By: Blonde Two
Thanks to Ordnance Survey for their Online Mapping snippets.
Those that paddle (kayak or canoe) it will tell you that you can divide the white water sections of the River Dart into three. As you move further upstream, the grade of difficulty gets higher and the rapids more exciting.
Although there was footage of somebody paddling the East Dart waterfall on social media this year; traditionally the most difficult paddling section of the Dart starts at Dartmeet, runs through the Dart Gorge and ends at Newbridge. The Gorge is a mysterious place; it is tricky to access so has few visitors but its roarings and splashings can be heard from the tors up above it. Drops in The Gorge have such worrying names as ‘Pandora’s Box’ and ‘Euthanasia Falls’. Only the very brave go there!
The next section of the Dart runs from Newbridge to just below Holne Bridge. Not very far at all by road (you can sometimes spot paddlers walking back up) but take a look at the map and you will see why this section is known as ‘The Loop’. Mr B2 has paddled The Loop many times, I have not. The main reason I have not is that I have watched Mr B2 being dunked (luckily he can roll a kayak back up) in such places as ‘Washing Machine’, ‘Triple Falls’ and ‘Spin Dryer’ too many times to want to.
The ‘Lower’ is outside the bounds of the National Park and runs from Austins Bridge (alongside the A384) to Staverton. This is a much more friendly section of river with rapids that a girl can quite happily bounce down (with or without her kayak). This section of the river (and the steam train that runs alongside it) feature in our book ‘Dart the River’. There are some beautiful still lengths as well as the more exciting, tip-you-over ones. One Christmas I paddled it dressed as Mary with a rather wet Baby Jesus strapped to the front of my boat.
I hope you have enjoyed my little guided river tour. Don’t go trying white water paddling on your own; you need a bit of training first and you definitely need to go with a group who know how to fish you out when you fall in … because you will, maybe not after 3 seconds like I did … but you will!