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  • Writer's pictureAlex Clasper

Top 5 Wild Swims on Dartmoor

Co-founder Tom and I grew up stomping around Dartmoor looking for peaks to climb, woodland to explore and pools to plunge into... what more could you want from your back garden. This is certainly a location that sits very close to our hearts and has undoubtedly formed our love, passion and appreciation for the outdoors, something in our mind that is certainly worth sharing. Dartmoor holds some magical gems when it comes to outdoor adventures and wild swimming is certainly one of them. If you are looking for adventure, serenity, or a wild remoteness that will leave you feeling like you have visited another world, get yourself to Dartmoor. With over 2 decades of exploring Dartmoor, we have narrowed down our top 5 wild swim spots on Dartmoor to get you started, here they are.

1. Sharrah Pools

The River Dart, New Bridge

Swim Location: 50.5301170, -3.8402752

Walk Distance: 2 miles (each way)

Walk Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Swim Type: Deep calm pools and cascading rapids

Tucked in the heart of a magical woodland along the River Dart Sharrah Pools is certainly a spot that will leave you feeling invigorated and at one with nature. A stunning 2-mile woodland walk from New Bridge car park along a well-packed track (with some reasonable incline and decline along the way around) will land you at the glassy waters of Sharrah Pools. With easy access and a range of deep pools, rolling rapids sit under and the odd plunge from a rope swing this really is a spot that will leave you feeling like you have been on a true adventure. For those of you looking for more excitement continue your walk up the River Dart for some more hidden gems...

2. Spitchwick,

The River Dart, New Bridge

Swim Location: 50.525827, -3.813775

Walk Distance: 0.5 miles (each way)

Walk Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Swim Type: Deep river swim

A stone's throw away from Sharrah Pools, the stunning common of Spitchwick offers an equally exciting adventure, well suited to families and those looking for a day out in the wild. Heading downstream from New Bridge car park along a short-lived but adventurous footpath that runs above the river you will find the woodland opens up into a beautifully flat grass common. Those of you looking for easier access, follow the road past New Bridge and take the first right (it's a steep turn) and drop passengers off along the boundary stones for a flat walk (mind the cows and ponies!). On the far side of the common, you will find a deep and glassy section of the river that offers fantastic swimming pools, and shallow rapids further downstream (worth taking a rubber ring). With rocks to jump from, beautiful swimming and an open common Sptichwick truly is a day out in the great outdoors to remember.

3. Cullever Steps,

East Okement River, Okehampton

Swim Location: 50.714638, -3.976972

Walk Distance: 0.5 miles (each way)

Walk Difficulty: Easy

Swim Type: Small river pool with small rapids

The stunning and inviting plunge pool of Cullever Steps is well worth a visit. Ideally located a the north end of Dartmoor this beautiful spot has easy access for those looking for a quick dip or anyone wanting to plan a longer adventure the local moorland has a mass of wonderful walks and areas of interest to visit, from rugged Tors to historic stone circles it's well worth exploring. The Pool at Cullever offers a small but tranquil swim. With the peaceful sound of the rapids above the pool and the inspiring backdrop of moorland, it's a definite favourite of ours.

4. Salmons Leap,

The River Teign, Drewsteignton

Swim Location: 50.692373, -3.810256

Walk Distance: 1 mile (each way)

Walk Difficulty: Easy-moderate

Swim Type: Small River Pool

Nestled in a stunning woodland Valley beneath Castle Drogo sits the upper river Teign. The Teign holds a number of beautiful swimming spots and Salmons Leap certainly is a contender for the top spot. Offering a range of square Victorian plunge pools to relax in and flowing rapids to invigorate yourself this spot really offers something for everyone. With a reasonable woodland walk (don't worry there is a pub when you get back) along the banks of the river there are a number of areas to stop, picnic and take in the scenery. The exhilarating pools are well worth the walk, for those of you that want a calm swim the lower section offers some deep areas to dip in, but for those looking to really indulge in a Wild Swimming experience like no other make your way up to the plunge pools for cold water jacuzzis and flowing rapids with smooth slides out of them that leave you with the ultimate sense of adventure.

5. Bellever Forest,

East River Dart, Yelverton

Swim Location: 50.578834, -3.896909

Walk Distance: 100ft

Walk Difficulty: Easy

Swim Type: Small river, a number of pools and small rapids

Bellever Woods is a remarkable and magical place, even without the East River Dart snaking past its borders it would make for a fantastic day out for any budding explorer, but thankfully it does and it is a brilliant place to swim. Bellever really is well located and offers easy access for those that need it and is surrounded by some of the best valleys, moorland and woodland that Dartmoor has to offer for those looking to adventure further. The East Rivers Dart touches the edge of Bellever and is lined by towering trees that open into flat grass patches, making it perfect for those looking to picnic, swim and spend the day in all of Dartmoor's beauty.

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