By: Blonde Two
Dartmoor has a lot of water and any walker will tell you that it usually does a very good job of hanging on to it. Obviously at the moment, it has even more than usual and by the sound of all the flood warnings is doing its best to get rid of as much as it can, as quickly as it can. Here are a few river based facts (and Blonde opinions) for you;
Over 20 rivers rise on Dartmoor – one of the things on my Dartmoor “to do” list is to follow the Dart from its source to Dartmouth where it meets the sea. This is a tricky one that might require two Blondes at once as the East and West Dart rise in different places. This expedition could be double hampered by my stepping-stone phobia (see previous post).
In my days as a kayaker, I spent a fair amount of time in the River Dart and believe I still hold the Paignton Canoe Club record for the swiftest white water capsize on my first expedition (3 seconds). Paddling the bouncy sections of the Dart is a truly exhilarating experience and a lovely way to see parts of Dartmoor that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to). There are lots of organisations that will run training and trips for you – have a look at Spirit of Adventure for a start.
River crossings on Dartmoor are something that you should consider carefully when planning your route. The rivers rise quickly and in poor weather, crossing may not be safe/possible. There are a number of bridges and some of the stone clapper bridges are worth a visit in their own right. There are some fords marked on the maps which do exist but can be deeper than you would choose to walk through. To make rivers harder to avoid, the areas around river/stream heads is often very boggy. There is a variety of different advice about river crossing but the Two Blondes use the following; have a wet weather optional route, don’t cross rivers on your own, be aware of the rest of your party – keep an eye on each other and undo rucksack straps before attempting a crossing.
We would not advise removing your trousers and blowing them up to make a life raft as we were all taught during school life-saving lessons.