28/08/2016 by Carl Reynolds
Before the Dart becomes the Dart, it is the East Dart, the Swimcombe, the West Dart and a number of nameless streams. To walk a circuitous route from Dartmeet, is to encounter swim and dipping spots galore (admittedly some are only ankle deep; but nonetheless refreshing to a walked upon foot) in all three; the magnificent; scramble-able, with enough frisson to be exciting; Bellever Tor, with long, uninterrupted 360 degree views; ancient woods and wayfares, and; the odd cluster of human habitation or visitation.
Most of the walk is based on Matt Newbury and Sophie Pierce’s – Wild Swimming Walks, Dartmoor and South Devon, route number 9. But we added an intentional and two unintentional, but illuminating nevertheless, diversions. The intended one to Believer Tor; and the unintended; a slight confusion around Hexworthy (go right out of the farm yard, not left) and; a diversion via Bellever, and then through the forest to Laughter Hole House. The latter providing us with the opportunity to refill fast depleting water bottles at the YHA. Thank you!
And then instead of hacking up Yar Tor to meet the marked footpath to Dartmeet, we deployed a “let’s follow the path down the side of the East Dart” approach…which brought us via a final dip back to Dartmeet car park. We were joined, from the beginning, by Jo Culf, who provided wonderful companionship, unbridled enthusiasm for swimming, assistance in matters existential, and a willingness to get slightly lost for moments with Mrs Ape and I. Around six hours for 12km(ish), with time for three dips, a few more rests and a fairly consistent amble. A fair bit of up, but we like up.
Notes – park at Dartmeet and go! But only once you have purchased aforementioned and hyperlinked book, packed a map of the area, come equipped for the conditions and weather and brought some grub, lots of water and your cossie. Starting Grid Ref 673733. Go SW direction.