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.
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.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Fogey, Graham Kirkham, Dart Access and David Pearson.
The older access point just below the bridge, used for decades by paddlers, where the old mill has been converted into smart apartments, is now the subject of an application to recognize a right of way. One local club is continuing to use that egress point to maintain their claim while it is processed.
We are asking for the assistance of all water users, including fishermen, dog walkers etc. to help the river recover. For canoeists this would include careful entry into and egress from rivers, paddling in good flows only and avoiding contact with river beds wherever possible. We also encourage canoeists to only paddle where there are agreed access arrangements in place.
We are currently trying to establish the extent and cause of the disease affecting rivers across Devon and Cornwall. Until we understand more and are able to implement any suitable measures, our only option to limit the impact of this disease is to protect the surviving salmon and sea trout and their spawn sites. Fish will potentially start to spwan from late September and eggs remain in gravels until around April, so this is a particularly sensitive period.
Thanks for your understanding and co-opertaion on this matter.
If feeling less energetic, or if solo with a large canoe, about 150 yards downstream of the bridge on river left is a broken down old slipway. You can get up this easily, but it's then a bit of a walk back to the car park (again - if with a canoe, take your wheels!).