The River Lyn Enquiry

The River Lyn Enquiry

Model Research Investigation in Geography

Research question: How valuable are the physical and human functions of the River Lyn drainage basin?

Hypothesis: The River Lyn catchment is primarily a natural hazard

Introduction and background

This site has been designed to support students of geography and their teachers undertaking an individual geographical research investigation either at GCSE or A Level.   The River Lyn and its catchment in Exmoor National Park are known throughout the world for the devastating floods which occurred in 1952.  This disaster remains the single largest loss of life from a British river flood and unsurprisingly this event is a frequent focus of geographical research.  As well as investigating in detail the causes and consequences of the flood this enquiry extends the geographical thinking of students beyond ‘river as hazard’ to understand and evaluate the broader ecological, social, economic, cultural and emotional value of the drainage basin.  Through adopting such a holistic perspective students are able to come to understand many of the principles which underpin river and drainage basin management in the 21st century and the concept of ecosystem services in particular.     As they answer the research question to test the hypothesis the students pursue a number of lines of enquiry underpinned by a range of ancillary investigations which ask them at regular intervals to "consolidate their thinking" before moving on.  Each line of enquiry directs students to key data sources and at various points there are suggested fieldwork activities also for those schools that are able to access the Lyn.

Lines of Enquiry

The four lines of enquiry below all look at different aspects of the River Lyn and its catchment. Each has a range of ancillary investigations, key links and resources that will support your enquiry.

1: The Lynmouth flood disaster of 1952

Key Question: How effective has flood management been since 1952 and what are the potential future implications of climate change?

2: The topography of the River Lyn and its catchment

Key Question: How do the characteristics of the River Lyn compare with the Classic Bradshaw model for rivers?

walkers Watersmeet

3: The benefits of the River Lyn ecosystem

Key Question: How can geographers assess the value of the natural environment?


4: Writing up your River Lyn enquiry

Key Question: How do geographers go about producing high quality research investigations?