This summer we will be following the adventures of Arthur Fuest, as he makes his way along the River Exe. Check in regularly to see what how he is getting on!
Here is what Arthur has to say…
Summer is rapidly arriving in the UK and with it I am getting increasingly excited for the potential to explore British rivers and their catchments. In September I will start a Water Science and Governance master’s at King’s College London leaving me with roughly four months to get outside as much as possible and engage with the water sector outside of the university world.
The objective is simple; walk the length of the Exe from source to mouth. In doing so I hope to gain a greater appreciation for the river and its valley and understand the pressures on it. The River Exe is an important river in my life providing the backdrop to many adventures and family trips whilst growing up on Exmoor. More recently I was able to use several sites on the upper reaches of the Exe and the Barle for my undergraduate dissertation therefore the Exe therefore seemed an appropriate river to start with.
In a very exciting development I will be supported by the Westcountry Rivers Trust (WRT) and promoting their work on the river! The WRT have been instrumental in the development of the Upstream Thinking project, now in its second cycle, working with land owners in the valleys of Exmoor to help decrease the amount of defuse pollution and in the restoration of the Exmoor Mires. This partnership gives me the opportunity to take data on a number of metrics relating to water quality along the length of the river and write a mini blog series. I hope to release three blog entries to describe the headwaters, main river and the estuary. Whilst on the walk I will, of course, be Twittering.
So with all that to get excited about I have motivation to start planning! As usual with these types of solo trips the potential difficulties have a habit of being the first things to pop into my head. The major issues are likely to be gaining access to the river when it runs through private land and dealing with the soggy West Country weather. The right to roam in England is highly restricted. Beyond public footpaths any areas identified as open access (fig 2) are available and beyond this permission has to be sought to access these areas. A detailed guide can be found at the ramblers.org.uk web page. I will therefore rely on contacts to get access to the river, in particular within Exmoor National Park, and for the rest be happy to restrict my self to the path.
As for the weather, I plan to bivy, so if it rains I’ll just have to just zip myself up and hold off for a warm bath at the end of the week. Having suffered a month of being continually wet working on rivers in Brunei I am potentially a bit foolish for wanting to do it again!
The river is roughly 87km long, a distance that I expect to take me four or five days depending on distractions. I will set off in the second week of June and with a bit of luck will be shortly lounging on a beach near Exmouth! Adventure awaits ..