GUIDE TO THE RIVER DART

(Buckfastleigh to Staverton)

NAME OF RIVER: Dart.

WHERE IS IT?: The classic SW paddle, this trip is on Dartmoor, would you believe it, not far from Ashburton and the A38 Plymouth - Exeter road.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Launch below Kilbury Weir after parking on the Dart Valley Railway’s land (SX 747662); see the guide to the previous section for details.

Finish 6 km downstream at Staverton Bridge or continue to Totnes.

Staverton Bridge (SX 785637) has parking near recently re-developed mill buildings. Unfortunately, at time of writing there have been attempts by residents to restrict access on foot to the river here; Totnes Canoe Clubs are attempting to have a Right of way recognised here.

APPROX LENGTH: 6 km.

TIME NEEDED: At least an hour and a half.

ACCESS HASSLES:

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It should be paddleable throughout the winter months.

GRADING: Grade 1 and 2 with a weir.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: A weir.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Directly downstream of the put-in, you encounter Salmon Ponds Weir (aka Kilbury Weir). This consists of small steps and chutes but is currently quite dangerous. Launch below as there is metal junk which offers a serious pin hazard.

The good news is that the rest of the trip is easy and danger-free, once you have portaged/ paddled the weir. Small rapids maintain interest all the way to Staverton bridge, where you can finish or carry on to Totnes.

OTHER NOTES: 

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Fogey, Graham Kirkham, Dart Access and David Pearson.

 

 

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River Dart - Buckfastleigh to Staverton -- Mark Dixon
2018 Oct 12 11:26:10 AM
"pete thorn" wrote:

Glad you enjoyed the trip. Official access in Buckfastleigh is from the Salmon's Leap Cafe where we have an arrangement with the owner.


Peter this is not ideal to access this section of river as Buckfastleigh Weir has dangerous underwater metal and is very difficult to portage as land around has been fenced off, so bad advise IMO.

We at Totnes CC have always got in at Austens Bridge where access is perfect, there is sufficient parking in nearby laybys as well.

I would only advise Salmons Leap as a take out for the section above and always avoid the weir
Re: River Dart - Buckfastleigh to Staverton -- pete thorn
2018 Oct 11 10:30:28 AM
Glad you enjoyed the trip. Official access in Buckfastleigh is from the Salmon's Leap Cafe where we have an arrangement with the owner.
Re: River Dart - Buckfastleigh to Staverton -- rss
2018 Oct 03 04:38:41 PM
Easy entry off a little lay-by on the side road that is Austin's Bridge, half a mile downstream from Buckfastleigh. Had a good trip in my canoe down to Totnes last week. Only tipped her over twice, which i thought was Ok for my first experience of rapids ( I know it's not exactly extreme!) Wimped out on the weir chute below Staverton Bridge and lowered her down by rope, also portaged round the big weir near Totnes. Stopped at Totnes and did the tidal estuary to Dartmouth with the tide the next day. Great fun!



Some of you may have spotted that the picture is not much like the River Dart! It's the Parrett, nearer home for me.



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Re: River Dart - Buckfastleigh to Staverton -- pete thorn
2018 Oct 03 10:26:13 AM
Looks like the gully upstream of the bridge at Staverton has been trashed with a digger to make egress/access there very difficult, plus two signs. People have used this point as a take out for forty years but the new owner, who bought from the church commissioners, is hostile to paddlers and won't meet to discuss without all sorts of preconditions. Be aware on this stretch.
Re: River Dart - Buckfastleigh to Staverton -- pete thorn
2018 Mar 16 06:53:33 PM
I have been advised by the owner of the river bank that Dart Angling Association do not own the fishing rights of this bank (Riverford Bridge to Staverton Bridge, river left. Also he is not a member of DAA. His concern is one of liability for any possible injury when paddlers use this route to access or egress the river. British Canoeing will be working constructively with the owner to see if his concerns can be resolved.
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