The Lyn

My Local Run

Let me start this by admitting my opinion of this river is grounded in fairly heavy bias. It cuts through a landscape the victorian poet Robert Southey christened "Little Switzerland" but a landscape that for me will forever be home. I am from the town who's name comes from the river in question. In the cruel irony of life however I did not quite know what I had until I left to university.


Finest piece of white water in all the land.

It was for the best that I didn't know the treats found in the glorious gorges of the Lyn, my ability as a kayaker was not up to the challenge of the Lyn before university. It is a difficult river to navigate, there are undercuts, siphons and strainers. There is constant risk of wood, and tight, technical turns with only one route down. The Lyn can bite back, it has gone viral and in 1952 the beast destroyed the hamlet of Middleham and flattened much of Lynmouth killing 34 people. The even made it into the curriculum of my primary school and in hindsight kickstarted my fascination with rivers.

Ok so now you should know I look at this river with rose tinted glasses, and if ownership is claimed of anything in this world then Lyn, is my river. I don't assume that every run I have down is super smooth or that I know her better than any other paddler, but to me she is family. I learnt to paddle in the section that was built after the floods. She's made me cry, laugh and is always able to test me. - ok personification overload but you get the gist. I'm attached.

Shut up and tell me about the river.


The river is split into two main sections. Brendan to Watersmeet and Watersmeet to the sea. -oh yeah this river finishes in some of the best surf in the UK-

The Top section Brendan to Watersmeet starts with fairly placid moving water perfect to warm up a bit and get accustomed to the water. The section as a whole gets better with more water and is made up of difficult but rewarding rapids containing must make moves and wholesome boofs. The section is a serious test piece of white water and one rapid in particular you will want to scout is called long pool. There is a small eddy above this rapid river right with room for two boats so its good to take the river slow and not miss those eddys. After long pool there is a lot of lovely read and run and a great section for a mega train.

The second half (from Watersmeet down to the sea) provides a paddler with a playground, at medium levels at least there is opportunities for a little bit of experimentation and if you have the time the chance to re-run most of the rapids as you go down until your happy with each placement of your paddle. The gorge should always be scouted on the first run of the day, unstable forests surround you and the shelter of the valley can mask tenacious winds.


That lovely gooey feeling

The rapids that you uncover when descending through the Lyn valley is only half the draw. Catch exmoor when the sun comes out and you leave Brendon only to be transported, the light streams through the trees and dances on the white water causing the particles of dihydrogen monoxide to rise into an excited state. This when combined with the constant change of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy causes a portal to form, leading the unsuspecting kayaker into the fictional yet very real middle earth. That last part may not be true, but the Lyn Valley has magic inside it that only kayakers can experience.

So to surmise, the Lyn is the best river in the World, fictional and otherwise. 

Please let me know if you think I'm wrong in the comment box below, tell me your favourite river and why.

Photos courtesy of Dad, or as other people know him, Rupert Kirby

Martyn KirbyComment