IOPCC Trip Report

River Barle
Sunday November
13th 2011


Paddlers: Bertie Beckram, Mark Damen, Joe Oughton, Peter Wood, Henry Knight.

At 7am on a strangely sunny Sunday morning, six of us met up at Willowbed Hall in Chickerell for our river adventure. Six became seven after picking up an extra one in Bridport (newcomer Henry Knight) and we were off to conquer the River Barle on Exmoor. After arriving in good time we put an extra boat on Dobby's National Express Tours in order to travel to the drop-in point (Tarr Steps), we were all on the water for 10:15-not bad! Bertie gave us all (Dobby) some coaching skills in a small rapid upstream then after 10 mins decided we were ready for the big stuff...

The paddle was to be a Stage II River Run approx 10miles, the river was running fast & hard yet Dobby was sitting very low and slow in the water compared to the other paddlers? The young Oughtons were exercising their extensive paddling skills whilst Bertie was leading, with Mark bringing up the rear and kindly babysitting Dobby! We had to negotiate quite a few rapids which were very large (almost like the Nepal rivers that were displayed to us at the AGM on Friday night...)

Negotiating weirs and avoiding trees whilst Bertie attracted our attention to huge eddies and managing to protect our eyes from preying trees, we came across a huge gnarly rapid-running surf wave as big as a large lorry, everyone successfully managed to negotiate it, well all apart from one (Dobby) who thought he would investigate the river life...well the river bed did look lovely and clear - very different from the seabed he usually inspects...Dobby continued travelling down-river holding onto his boat, paddle and also trying desperately to cling to his dignity. Mark (aka David Hasselhoff) did the decent thing and rescued Dobby whilst everyone else had a welcome rest.

We got Dobby back in his boat and paddled downstream again, we had to portage around a dangerous weir due to ironworks in the water, there were a few other paddlers taking a welcome break for lunch around the weir part, we paddled on & came across a large rapid with a great little wave running, so Bertie, Mark and the Oughtons decided to have a welcome play. Then young Joe popped a cracking roll in the aftermath of the rapid, we proceeded to paddle the last part of the river down to our get-out point, we arrived at the car park (Pub) approx 3 hours after our drop in & were welcomed back with a few chips & fizzy pop.

A great day was had by and all.

Thanks to all who welcomed me/rescued me/laughed at me on my first river paddle...



Pictures of the paddle are on the
Galleries Page.

Mark watching for swimmers
Tom Oughton in the play wave
Tom Oughton

Dobby Swims from Mark Damen on Vimeo.

Back to the Trip Report Index

Report: Peter Wood
Pictures: Mark Damen & Peter Wood



Paddling on the Jurassic Coast