The River Barle, and the valley it runs through, are designated biological sites of scientific interest. The pretty, mainly grade 2 classified river, flows through several beautiful areas with rare plants and kingfishers. There are several sections to note on the river.
The sections of the River Barle
The upper sections of the Barle above Simonsbath provide around 3 miles of grade 2-3. As with much of the river, care should be taken to avoid sheep fences. Note that the river can change rapidly in high water. As this section is close to the source, care should also be taken when the river is in spate, or very full, such as after heavy rain.
The section between Simonsbath to Withypool, which is around 6-7 miles long is a great place for adventures and exploring. It feels very much like you’re in the wilderness at certain parts!
Again, you should be aware of several sheep fences along the river which will need to be portaged. Otherwise, this continuous set of small rapids is a delight to run and practice white water skills. Care must be taken in high water though.
From Withypool to Tarr steps is around 5 miles of grade 2-3, with the difficulty level rising in high water. The highlight of the section for most paddlers is the long grade 3 rapid within the final mile of this stretch.
The final section to note is the section between Tarr Steps and Exe Confluence which is around 7 miles. Classified as grade 2, it’s great for those learning white water skills at low and medium levels.
However as the water rises, so does the difficulty, and paddlers should be aware of the caution here.