GUIDE TO THE RIVER EAST DART

(Postbridge to Dartmeet)

NAME OF RIVER: East Dart.

WHERE IS IT?: This trip is high up on Dartmoor, flowing between Postbridge and Dartmeet.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There are two possible starting points.

Postbridge (GR 647788) is the higher access point, with good parking beside a National Park Information Centre.

The second option is a start at Bellever Bridge (SX 658774) which is a quieter spot and misses out the awkward first kilometre. This trip ends at Dartmeet (SX 672732), where the river joins the West Dart to become the main River Dart, just downstream of the get-in for the Dartmeet section.

APPROX LENGTH: 7 km approx.

TIME NEEDED: 1 - 2 hours.

ACCESS HASSLES: Paddling the West Dart or East Dart is seemingly not liked by the National Park or local Environment Agency officials. Of course, they have no legal jurisdiction over the navigation of Dartmoor's rivers whatsoever.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: It is only canoeable in near flood conditions. Although this can undoubtedly be paddled lower, it should be saved for high water conditions; partly to bring the rapids in condition, partly because paddling at low levels might affect spawning beds.

All rocks should be covered at Postbridge. Most or all rocks should be covered at Dartmeet.

GRADING: Mostly grade 2 with harder grade 3 sections.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Remote in places.

Wire fences crossing the river not far below the put-in. Trees.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Shortly below Postbridge, a strand of barbed wire across the river makes for a dubious warm-up. In the following hundred metres you are then strained through some awkward tree branches and under a low footbridge whilst negotiating steep grade 3 falls. The river soon overcomes its poor start and eases to grade 2 rapids interspersed with small weir ledges. The last makes a notable stopper and is just upstream of Bellever Bridge. If what has been described so far isn't your idea of fun, this is a good place to start your trip.

The river now flows through open moor on one bank and oddly, dense forestry plantation on the other. The continuous rapids frequently reach grade 3- and once the plantation is left behind, the river has more gradient and some great waves and stoppers to thrash through. A second plantation is reached, again on river right. The river enters its steepest section now with fast and furious grade 3. The good news is that this pretty much carries on, although the river widens and loses gradient just above the end. In December 2002 a single tree had fallen across the river a hundred metres upstream of Dartmeet.

OTHER NOTES: This is good fun, but in similar conditions the bigger West Dart is much more exciting.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Simon Dawson, www.simondawson.com from his 80's notes, rewritten by Mark Rainsley.

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: River East Dart - Postbridge to Dartmeet -- andy g
2016 Jan 12 09:10:28 AM
"Mark Dixon" wrote:
I've been speaking to a few people today about the East Dart as some have aspirations of doing it, if you take out the tree factor it is actually a really good step up from the Loop before tackling something like the Middle Tavy or West Dart, some were discussing a summer trimming trip, nothing detrimental to the trees but a bit of management in the right direction to make it an attractive option for smaller groups and open up the main channels.


Mark,

I agree with you about this being a good step up from the Loop, and as long it is paddled responsibly then it would be a welcome alternative to the more popular runs.



Please let me know if and when you are thinking about a pruning party and I will try to bring down some volunteers from London and SE to help.



Andy
Re: River East Dart - Postbridge to Dartmeet -- Mark Dixon
2016 Jan 10 04:02:23 PM
"andy g" wrote:
Mark



Your thoughts are similar to mine, an interesting river to have done , but not sure if would choose to repeat it, especially if there were other options.



Several of my club members do want to run one day, I am trying to work out if I want to accompany them. It needs a small tight group of trusted paddlers who are capable of paddling above Grade 3. A swim would be very tricky to deal with.



Andy


I've been speaking to a few people today about the East Dart as some have aspirations of doing it, if you take out the tree factor it is actually a really good step up from the Loop before tackling something like the Middle Tavy or West Dart, some were discussing a summer trimming trip, nothing detrimental to the trees but a bit of management in the right direction to make it an attractive option for smaller groups and open up the main channels.

There is good parking top and bottom and access is good, I think if its cleared a bit I am sure it would be run a lot more often.

I have heard from some its a sensitive river but in modern times paddlers are aware of their responsibilities.

I'll post here if anything becomes clearer.

Mark



Edit:

BTW we put in at Bellever Bridge to avoid the top barbed wire and strainers.
Re: River East Dart - Postbridge to Dartmeet -- andy g
2016 Jan 10 09:09:06 AM
Mark



Your thoughts are similar to mine, an interesting river to have done , but not sure if would choose to repeat it, especially if there were other options.



Several of my club members do want to run one day, I am trying to work out if I want to accompany them. It needs a small tight group of trusted paddlers who are capable of paddling above Grade 3. A swim would be very tricky to deal with.



Andy
Re: River East Dart - Postbridge to Dartmeet -- Mark Dixon
2016 Jan 09 09:13:14 PM
Finally got to paddle this section, parking in the Forestry car park (£2 pay and display) level was just over a metre. Lots and lots of overhanging branches and tree lined sections a bit concerning at times but just about managed to stay in boat without portaging. There were 2 river wide trees just passable nearer the end of run.

It was an interesting grade 2/3 (more grade 3 than 2) excellent scenery. I think we just about got level right considering trees and wouldnt want to risk taking a group in much higher levels. I think its worth it for the novelty factor as it was good paddling at times, not sure I'll be rushing back though...

Mark
Re: River East Dart - Postbridge to Dartmeet -- Environment-Agency
2015 Jun 25 10:56:12 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.
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