Swimming and exploring South Devon, from Dartmoor to the sea
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
The Dart Slither (Part 2)
Having completed part 1 of the Dart Slither earlier this summer - between Dartmeet and New Bridge - it was time to attempt Part the Second. And so bright and early one Sunday morning Anna, Rachel, Judy, Ellie and I slipped in under the majestic arches of New Bridge, ready to swim, slide and slither down the Holne Chase section of the Dart, to the weir below Holne Bridge. The river runs mostly through private land, so we were setting off into virgin territory. The first bit - Spitchwick - was familiar, and enlivened by some great mushroom spotting from the water, of some splendid Penny Bun specimens (which we returned later on to pick). Then, past Buckland Bridge, we started getting into waters new. The river ran over a series of stickles - this, according to the writer Eric Hemery, is a Dartmoor word for rapids - and then opened out and we passed a fishing lodge, complete with antlers around the door. We then came across a cascade, which I believe the canoeists call "The Washing Machine" where we braced ourselves against the water and got head massages. Then we passed under Lovers' Leap - a spectacular cliff, where, legend has it, Wilfred, a young monk from Buckfast Abbey, jumped to his death along with his lover Rosine. It was a relief to get to Holne Bridge, where the river is deep all the way down to the weir; we were carried along gently by the current and emerged on the bank, four hours after we started.