A River Runs Through It


We have a print hanging on our sitting room wall called River Dart by Terence Millington.

The River Dart at Holne

Devon is one of our favourite holiday destinations and this week we’re staying near the lovely Stannary town of Ashburton. Our cottage is on an estate that borders the beautiful River Dart. There’s a path from our cottage that takes you right down to the swift-flowing river which borders the Holne Chase estate.

The River Dart near New Bridge

This 42 mile long river rises as 2 branches – East and West Dart – in the Okehampton area of Dartmoor.  The two branches join on Dartmoor at Dartmeet and from then on the single river slips past our cottage ‘home’, flows swiftly down under Holne Bridge and then runs parallel with the road and the railway line towards Totnes, from where for the final 8 miles the river is navigable.

At Steamer Quay, Totnes

It was  at Totnes, on a beautiful November morning, that I boarded the Dart Venturer for a gentle cruise down the river to Dartmouth.

Sharpham Vineyard

Not far from Totnes is the Sharpham Estate, an award-winning vineyard that hugs the right-hand bank of the river for about two and a half miles.

We passed three villages: Duncannon, Stoke Gabriel and Dittisham, Agatha Christie’s former home Greenway (above) and Sir Walter Raleigh’s boat-house. As the boat glided through the still waters it was fascinating to look out for wildlife along the banks – we even spotted a seal bobbing in the water. Bird life included egrets, herons, swans, a cormorant, a buzzard and masses of Canada geese.

As we neared Dartmouth (and its opposite neighbour, Kingswear) the river broadens and we watched naval cadets (above) from the nearby Britannia Royal Naval College for Officer Training (below),

and saw empty and forlorn looking boat building yards that had supplied the nation with over 400 craft during the Second World War. Have a hanky ready if you want to watch the following video about the demise of Philip’s.

At Dartmouth we disembarked from the cruise an hour and a quarter later at the only railway station in Britain that has never been served by a railway line. It was built in anticipation of the railway reaching the town but local efforts to prevent it crossing the Dart were successful and in the end the line had to terminate at Kingswear.

The Dart Estuary at Dartmouth

7 comments on “A River Runs Through It

  1. You are in the right place to read and listen to Alice Oswald’s wonderful poem Dart, Barbara. I listened to it whilst driving across the moor to home from Totnes one very hot summer’s day and immediately had to divert up to Postbridge and dabble my toes in the peaty brown river under the ancient Clapper Bridge. It was memorable. Have you been to Agatha Christie’s Greenways too?? I think you can land at the quay on the River Dart and walk up.

  2. How I long to be at home! I’m from Ashburton and I love these pictures of yours. I live just outside Bristol now, in a small village where the neighbouring countryside reminds me a bit of the rolling hills around Totnes. But, really, nothing compares and I often miss the beauty of home.

    • Ruth, welcome to my blog and thank you for your comment! We love Ashburton and are staying very near there. This evening we ate at a favourite restaurant in the town – Agaric. At least you are much nearer to Devon than we are in Leeds. We do so love our week here.

  3. Thanks for mentioning ‘Dart’, Lynne. I had heard of the poem and have been looking out for it all week but I didn’t know that it was available on audio. I shall toddle over to Amazon to find out more.

    I have been to Greenways and posted FlickR pictures here :

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bernesealp/sets/72157622152699524/with/3860249134/

    I took my mum and was advised after calling in advance to reserve a parking place as the walk up from the landing stage would be too much for her. I was glad we had done that but look forward to doing the roundtrip by boat and on foot some time in the future.

  4. sherry says:

    What a lovely ride you had!
    Your print of the river is very like the real thing.
    I like your wallpaper, too.

  5. Sherry, it was most enjoyable and I was extremely lucky with the weather – the downpour near the end soon cleared up.

    Yes, we thought that when we bought it but we still haven’t found the exact spot.

    ‘Medway’ by William Morris.

    http://www.historicstyle.com/williammorris/wallpapers/medway.html

  6. Lynne, My CD of Dart arrived today and I listened to the first couple of tracks. I love it! I especially love having it recited to me as I am useless at reading poetry in my head. Thank you for encouraging me to give it a go!

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