- River Dart
name = River Dart
image_caption = The River Dart
country = England
region = Devon
region_type = County
discharge_location = Austins Bridge,
discharge_average = 11.04
discharge_max = 40
source_name = West Dart
source_location = Lower White Tor
source_elevation = 450
source1_name = East Dart
source1_location = Kit Rock, Whinney's Down
source1_elevation = 510
source_confluence_location = Dartmeet
source_confluence_elevation = 210
mouth_name = English Channel
mouth_lat_d = 50
mouth_lat_m = 20
mouth_lat_s = 33
mouth_lat_NS = N
mouth_long_d = 3
mouth_long_m = 33
mouth_long_s = 51
mouth_long_EW = W
mouth_elevation = 0
The River Dart is a
riverin Devon, Englandwhich rises high on Dartmoor, and releases to the sea at Dartmouth. Its valley and surrounding area is respected as a place of great natural beauty.
The river begins as two separate branches (the
East Dartand West Dart), which join at Dartmeet. The paths along these rivers offer very attractive walking, and there are several small waterfalls. The rivers are crossed by a number of clapper bridges, notably at the hamlet of Postbridge.
After leaving the moor, the Dart flows southwards past
Buckfast Abbeyand through the towns of Buckfastleigh, Dartingtonand Totnes. At Totnes, where there is a seventeenth century weir(rebuilt in the 1960s)Fact|date=August 2007, it becomes tidal, and there are no bridges below the town.
A passenger ferry operates across the river from the village of
Dittishamto a point adjacent to the Greenway Estate. Formerly the home of the late crime writer Agatha Christie, this has stunning views across the river, and the house and gardens are now owned by the National Trustand are open to the public.cite web | title = Dittisham Departures | publisher = Greenway Ferry Service | url = http://www.greenwayferry.co.uk/dittishamdepartures.htm | accessdate = 2008-09-24 ]
estuaryis a large riaand is popular for sailing. The village of Kingswearand town of Dartmouth are on the east and west sides of the estuary, and are linked by two vehicle ferriesand a passenger ferry. The deep water port of Dartmouth is a sheltered haven.
The entrance to the river from the sea is a rocky entrance with cliffs either side. On the East side
Kingswear Castlesits very close to the water's edge, and on the west side Dartmouth Castleis built on a rocky promontoryat sea level. The castles once operated a defensive chain across the estuary, which was raised at dusk to destroy enemy ships attempting to attack the harbour. The remains of the operating machanisms for the chain are still visible in Dartmouth castle.
The river takes its name from a Celticvague word meaning 'river where oak trees grow' [ISBN 0-19-852-758-6 Oxford Dictionary of British Place Names] due to the banks of the lower Dart being covered in ancient woods of native
oak[http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/aurawprdeco6 Dartmoor National Park Authoritypress release on restoring ancient woodland in Dartmoor's valleys]
The flooded ria that forms the lower reaches of the Dart, with its deep water and steeply sloping valley sides, is a considerable barrier to crossing traffic. There are no bridges below
At the mouth of the river, it separates the communities of Dartmouth and
Kingswear. There have been proposals to bridge the river here, but these have come to nothing. Instead the two places are linked by, in order going upstream, the Lower Ferry, Passenger Ferry and Higher Ferry. The Lower and Higher ferries both carry vehicles.
Some convert|2.5|mi upstream of Dartmouth, the
Greenway Ferrycarries pedestrians across the river from the village of Dittishamto Greenway Quay.cite web | title = Dittisham Departures | publisher = Greenway Ferry Service | url = http://www.greenwayferry.co.uk/dittishamdepartures.htm | accessdate = 2008-09-24 ]
A further convert|5|mi upstream is Totnes, where the river is spanned by two road bridges, a railway bridge and a footbridge over. Totnes Bridge is the nearest bridge to the sea and is a road bridge built in 1826-28 by Charles Fowler. Some convert|1000|ft upstream is Brutus Bridge, constructed in 1982 as part of a road traffic-relief scheme. A further convert|0.5|mi upstream, the railway bridge carries the
National Rail London to Penzance Lineover the river. Immediately upstream of the railway bridge is a footbridge, built in 1993 to provide access to the Totnes (Littlehempston) terminus of the South Devon Railway.cite book
title=The Buildings of England — Devon
author=Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner
isbn=0 14 071050 7] Cite book | publisher = Devon Books | isbn = 0-86114-817-7 | last = Hawkins | first = Michael | title = Devon Roads: An illustrated survey of the development and management of Devon's highway network | location = Exeter | date = 1988 | pages = 52 ] cite book | last = Taylor | first = Alan | coauthors = Treglown, Peter | title = South Devon Railway - A Visitors Guide | publisher = South Devon Railway Trust | date = May 1999 | pages = 23-28 ]
The lower section of the River Dart forms Dartmouth Harbour, a deep water natural harbour with a long history of maritime usage. In modern times, the port's commercial activity has declined, but it is still a busy port for local
fishing vessels and a wide variety of yachts and other private boats. Several local companies specialise in shipbuilding and repairs to small tonnage craft.cite web | url = http://www.dartharbour.org/commercial-vessels-guide/ | title = Commercial Vessels Guide | publisher = Dart Harbour & Navigation Authority | accessdate = 2008-09-25 ]
Dartmouth is also the home of the
Britannia Royal Naval Collegeand as a result is routinely visited by sizeable naval ships. Smaller naval tenders are often seen carrying out training exercises in the harbour and river. Large cruise ships are occasional visitors, with the largest visitor to date being the MV "Royal Princess" (30,277 GRT).cite web | url = http://www.dartharbour.org/commercial-vessels-guide/ | title = Commercial Vessels Guide | publisher = Dart Harbour & Navigation Authority | accessdate = 2008-09-25 ] cite web | url = http://www.dartharbour.org/visiting-ships/ | title = Visiting Ships | publisher = Dart Harbour & Navigation Authority | accessdate = 2008-09-25 ]
Upstream, the Dart is navigable to sea-going vessels as far as the weir in
Totnes. The river almost dries out for convert|2|mi below Totnes at spring tidelow water, but vessels drawing up to convert|3|foot can proceed to Totnes from one and a half hours after low water. Above the weir, the river is navigable only to small craft such as kayaks and canoes.cite web | url = http://www.dartharbour.org/harbour-river-guide/sailing-directions/ | title = Sailing Directions | publisher = Dart Harbour & Navigation Authority | accessdate = 2008-09-25 ]
Several companies operate trips on the river, including
Dart Pleasure Craft Limited, who also trade as "River Link" and operate the Passenger Ferry between Dartmouth and Kingswear. These include cruises from Dartmouth to Totnes, which can be combined with journeys on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railwayand an open top busbetween Totnes and Paigntonto create a circular trip.cite web | url = http://www.dartharbour.org/harbour-river-guide/river-trips/ | title = River Trips | publisher = Dart Harbour & Navigation Authority | accessdate = 2008-09-25 ] cite web | url = http://www.riverlink.co.uk/PDF/TimeTable2008.pdf | title = Time Table 2008 | publisher = Dart Pleasure Craft Limited | accessdate = 2008-09-18 | format = pdf ]
The harbour and port are popular leisure boating locations, and several
marinas and boat yards are located on the river. The Port of Dartmouth Royal Regattatakes place annually over three days at the end of August.
Canoeing and Kayaking
The upper reaches of the Dart, and especially those on
Dartmoor, are a focal point for whitewater kayakers and canoeists. The best known sections of the river are:
Upper Dart" from Dartmeetto Newbridge (Grade 4, advanced run) [http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/upperdart.htm] .
* "The Loop" from Newbridge to
Holne Bridge(Grade 2/3, beginner/intermediate run) [http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/dart.htm] .
* "The Lower" from Holne Bridge to
Buckfastleigh(Grade 2, beginner section) [http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/lowerdart.htm] .In the past, sections of the East and West Dart above Dartmeet, as well as the Webburn have been paddled, but the access agreement now forbids this.
The lower reaches of the Dart, including the estuary are suitable for flat water touring.
Angling is very popular in the Dart Valley. The
West Dartis notable ground for salmonspawning redds.
Literature and Folklore
The River Dart is the source of much
folkloreon Dartmoor, where it is traditionally respected and feared - the waters have a tendency to rise without notice following heavy rainfall on the moors above, adding to the dangers of its rapids and powerful currents. This gave rise to the couplet: :"River of Dart, Oh River of Dart!:Every year thou claimest a heart."
The 1951 non-fiction book "The River Dart" by
Ruth Manning-Sanderscentres on the river and its history.
Rivers of the United Kingdom
* [http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/index.php?section=champions:cycleau Devon Wildlife Trust's Dart Catchment Project]
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