By: Blonde Two
The River Dart and I have an interesting relationship. I have walked beside it, slept next to it, sought out its source, had a wobble (literal and mental) on stepping stones over it, written a book about it, swam (on purpose and by accident) in it, kayaked on it, canoed on it, jumped across it, rowed on it, carried the baby Jesus (not the real one) down it and (unsuccessfully) attempted to avoid vomit in it.
The Dart is a wonderful river, it is made up of many parts and a journey down it from source to sea would take you through some of the best landscapes that Devon has to offer. Our children’s book Dart the River takes in many of these landscapes (through its beautiful illustrations by Ali Marshall) and activities and is our bestseller so far.
Despite having spent so much time in, around, on top of and crying at the River Dart, I didn’t feel like I knew enough about it, so I did a bit of research. Here are my 5 favourite River Dart interesting facts:
The River Dart’s name is derived from an ancient word for ‘oak’. The same is true for the River Derwent and the River Darent. More about the etymology of river names here.
The Dart Estuary is a flooded non-glacial valley (ria) and the river is tidal up to Totnes weir (I have not yet met the seals who sometimes swim there).
The source of the East Dart River (550 m) is around 10 metres higher than the source of the West Dart River (540 m) (both are boggy and require some commitment to reach).
Copyright Ordnance Survey 2017
The lowest bridge across the Dart is at Totnes where the water of the River Dart is 20 metres above sea level. Below Totnes you have to be good at swimming/kayaking/sailing/buying a ferry ticket to get across the river.
The section of the River Dart between Newbridge and Holne Bridge is known as ‘The Loop’ by kayakers and includes water features with names like ‘Washing Machine’ and ‘Spin Drier’. If you swam this section of the river (apart from ending up very mangled) you would swim for 4.9 kilometres, if you walked on the road between the two bridges, you would walk for 2 kilometres.