GUIDE TO THE RIVER WEST DART
(Two Bridges to Dartmeet)
NAME OF RIVER: West Dart.
WHERE IS IT?: This trip is high up on Dartmoor, close to the road between Princetown and Dartmeet.
PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: Get on at Two Bridges (SX 6078 7500) by the hotel if the river is very high, or at the outward bound centre by Prince Hall. This trip finishes where the river joins the East Dart (SX 6719 7318) to become the main River Dart, just downstream of the get-in for the Dartmeet section.
APPROX LENGTH: 5 miles approx.
TIME NEEDED: Unknown.
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: Only worth paddling in flood conditions; when it's outstanding!
GRADING: 3, finishing at grade 3-4. Pretty continuous towards the end.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Remote in places.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Initially a small meandering moorland stream, it quickly grows into a steep grade 3 river with a good grade 3-4 stretch in the last mile. Very remote in places, with excellent scenery and extensive wildlife.
Initially a flat meandering moorland stream with the occasional rocky fall (some of which are tricky and worth recceing). The river expands and steepens into a pleasant steep grade 3, with some long continuous boulder strewn falls similar to an easy upper Dart. After Hexworthy Bridge the river drops steeply for the final mile. This section has some excellent grade 3-4, and is worth paddling as a warm up for the Upper Dart. It is normal to continue down the Upper Dart to Newbridge, but it is possible to get out on the left bank below the confluence, and walk 50 yards upstream to the carpark.
OTHER NOTES: An alternative start point, in very very high water, is the Black Brook flowing from Princetown.
The Swincombe also makes an interesting start in spate conditions.
CONTRIBUTED BY: Simon Dawson, www.simondawson.com.