A Day Walk on the River Dart

I arrived on the tors high above the River Dart in the Holne Valley on Dartmoor, just as the pale sun rose shedding a golden light through the misty Autumnal valley. I sat on a large granite boulder and did my daily nature ritual where I honoured the four directions in a clockwise circular motion visualising the animals, trees and plants that I have in my ‘nature ritual wheel.’ This ritual helps to deepen my sense of connection with the natural world and its seasonal cycles.

A large buzzard soared up into the chill morning air above the valley and I had that joy of feeling in the right place at the right time.

It had rained through the night and I could already hear the roar of the Dart far below. I decided to make my way down to the river passing the ochre bracken and heavy-berried Hawthorn trees with their attendant song birds. A robin stopped to look at me curiously, his head cocked to one side, before continuing on with his morning routine. I scrambled on down through the steep-sided oak woodland and gathered a few fresh acorns along the way. I was glad of my trusty hazel walking stick as I stumbled over the slippery moss carpeted granite rocks.

At last, I came out onto the path just above the river. I climbed down to a locally well known wild swimming spot called ‘Sharrah Pool’ where a water chute pours out into a long, deep swimming channel surrounded by carved granite walls topped by gorse bushes still bright with their sun yellow flowers. The bronze, mineral, waters fizzed over the rapids and swept through to the pool. I decided not to risk a swim today, but a cormorant on a boulder at the centre of the river had no such qualms and dived into the white foaming waters for her fishy breakfast.

I then had a tricky scramble over the granite river cliffs to my favourite waterfalls. As I picked my way along the narrow path, I was comforted by busy, twittering, long-tailed tits that seemed to accompany me along my cliff-top climb. I made it back down to the river and was rewarded with a smooth granite sit spot surrounded by the swirling river sweeping down the ancient valley. I slowly ambled up to the crashing waterfalls where I soaked up the cooling river spray which made fleeting, shimmering, rainbows in the late morning sunlight.

Wild water on the River Dart

I spent the remainder of the day making my way up the river from one beautiful sit spot to the next, visited along the way by nodding grey wagtails and electric blue damsel flies. The long song of the river sang into my ears, the cool wind caressed my skin, the dappled sunlight warmed my heart, and I i felt ever more deeply connected to this wild and wonderous place.

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