GUIDE TO THE RIVER DART

(Holne Bridge to Buckfastleigh)

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: Put-in at Holne Bridge or the River Dart Country Park.

Egress this lower section on Dart Valley Railway land, river right after the A38 Bridge. On med low flows you can egress river right just above a weir. On high flows egress just after the A38 Bridge. There is ample parking for cars in a large car park by the Butter Fly Farm via a very low bridge. For high vehicles and parking for accessing the river on high flow runs, there is a smaller parking area left though a open gate between the caf and the main station building, follow access road 300m until you arrive at an open space just after the railway yard.

Richard Elliot from Dart Railways has been very helpful over allowing us to use this facility. Please act politely and park sensibly, all Richard asks if the caf is open go in and have a coffee.

APPROX LENGTH: 3 miles.

TIME NEEDED: At least an hour and a half.

ACCESS HASSLES:

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It should be easy to judge whether this is paddleable by peering over the take-out bridge. If the upper sections are paddleable then this certainly is.

GRADING: Grade 2 for most of the river with a few weirs posing difficulties. I have not paddled this section in high water but given that the weirs deserve respect in lower levels, assume that they will be very dangerous.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:Weirs.

Chris Green (September 2002) - "I am nearing completion of the feasibility study that I am preparing on the proposed refurbishment of the weir at Buckfast Abbey. As people gear up for the forthcoming White Water season on the Dart, and in the light of my investigations, it may be worth reviewing the guidance given to canoeists using Furzleigh/ Abbey Weir. The fish pass on the left side of the weir is an extremely tempting route, especially in medium to low flows. I have shot it myself many times. But, the action of shooting each drop in turn leads boats to turn sideways and run slightly right and into the fast channel that forms the interface between the fish pass and the main weir face. In this channel, there is a 1m deep undercut at the right hand end of the third wall that is invisible to canoeists. I found it by wading around in the pools at low flows and poking about with a range pole. A colleague of mine in Teignbridge Canoe Club had a very nasty pin in the undercut a few years ago, but I only understand the danger that he was in now after carefully inspecting the weir as part of my work for the Abbey. I would be grateful if you could pass on this to other canoeists using that section of the Dart and urge extreme caution to anybody considering using the fish pass as a route down the weir."

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Holne weir which is only 200 metres below Holne Bridge must be taken with extreme caution at medium and high flows as the stopper and towback are fierce. Under these conditions it is best shot on the extreme left or it can be portaged on either side. Another tiny weir follows shortly afterwards; this has been developed into a playhole by Riverdart Adventures who own the land around.

After Waterworks Bridge, there are some one-off Grade 2 rapids to enjoy, the most notable being where the river funnels right past a small ledge, and where it drops steeply through waves and stoppers to the left of a big island. Eventually you see Buckfastleigh Abbey come into view on river right and this heralds the approach of Furzleigh Weir. Get out well above on river left above this huge weir...you have the choice of a long slide or a series of awkward steps down a fish-pass...or a portage, which is probably what you'll want to do in anything other than low levels. See the 'hazards' section above.

Note that there is another potentially dangerous weir not far downstream of the bridge...read the guide to the next section for details.

OTHER NOTES: Consider carrying on below Buckfastleigh...

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mark Rainsley, also Chris Green, Stuart Woodward and Dart Access.

 

 

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: RIVER DART (Waterworks Bridge to Buckfastleigh) -- pete thorn
2016 Dec 05 05:14:40 PM
Regarding the take out in Buckfastleigh....

I spoke to the cafe people today to see how the new arrangement is going. They are generally happy with it and are getting good custom. But, there are a few paddlers who seem to think they can

-walk in dripping wet

-use the loos without buying anything

-sit at their outside tables and eat their own sandwiches

-get fast service when the cafe is already busy and you are part of a large group

Please stop doing these things if you want the arrangement to last!

If you aren't aware, we can park there for free, launch and take out, provided we don't do these things listed above and do buy stuff in the cafe. It will only work if there is something in it for the cafe as well as for us.
Re: RIVER DART (Waterworks Bridge to Buckfastleigh) -- Mark Gawler
2016 Oct 03 05:57:56 AM
"buck197" wrote:
The egress situation has improved on the Lower Dart in that the Indian restaurant has shut and a new cafe, Salmon Leap Cafe, has opened. The cafe have developied the piece of land by the side of the property and are encouraging paddlers to use it for parking and partaking of the cafe. The actual egress is now shifted from just under the bridge to a spot 100 m further down on river left where a side stream comes in and this is before the A38 road bridge. There is a sign at the old get out which says the new get out is a further 50m but I think it is closer to 100m. There is space for maybe a dozen vehicles at least. Let's use this new egress point and support the cafe as they are kayaker friendly. I have photos but can't seem to load them. Remember the old and new egress point are on private land and if we abuse it then we may lose it.
Re: RIVER DART (Waterworks Bridge to Buckfastleigh) -- Environment-Agency
2015 Jun 25 10:55:38 AM
We at the Environment Agency are dealing with a serious outbreak of disease among migratory fish on many rivers in Devon including the River Dart. The Dart fishery has been in decline in recent years and this year a significant disease outbreak is estimated to have killed the majority of Salmon and Sea Trout that have entered the river so far.



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.
Re: RIVER DART (Waterworks Bridge to Buckfastleigh) -- kirtonkruzer
2014 Feb 20 11:27:48 PM
Unfortunately The Butterfly Farm car park has not been available to paddlers this winter. There is limited parking in laybys near Buckfastleigh Bridge. Take out river left immediately after the bridge and carry boats up the bank.

Access can be gained from Waterworks Bridge within River Dart Park or there is limited on road parking near Holne Weir giving the option to run The Anvil and School Rapids. There is no parking now at Holne Bridge.
Re: RIVER DART (Waterworks Bridge to Buckfastleigh) -- Suffolk Rich
2014 Feb 19 04:21:10 PM
So has this restriction been lifted and the access issue resolved? Walked down there today (Butterfly farm) and could no signs saying "no canoeists" and could see no fences blocking access to river.
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