Dart

dart.jpg Div A race. Description is based on the Dart Access River info page

NEWBRIDGE (SX712708). Between Newbridge and Holne Bridge the Dart makes a large loop just over three miles long which gives this section its common name. It is a good grade 3 at normal winter levels. Numerous natural drops together with some remoteness mean that this section is not suitable for novices. Access at Newbridge is from the car park on the left bank above the bridge. A road follows the river's left bank for about 1 mile as far as the confluence with the R. Webburn, after which emergency egress should be on the right bank.

On leaving Newbridge there is a fairly gentle section for the first half mile or so, although there is a tree on the right hand bank just beyond a split in the channel (SX715713) which can cause problems. After this and a few small rapids the first of the more interesting drops appears. 'The Washing Machine' as it is known is best shot on the right of the small island, but as near to the island as possible; go too far right and you will be in the middle of a nasty stopper.

A few rapids further the river bends sharply to the right indicating arrival at 'Lovers Leap'. This 100 metre long rapid contains some large boulders which can unseat the unwary at low flows, although they are mostly covered at high water. A line which follows the main flow, starting to the right of centre and then moving to the centre is usually the safest, but do watch out for the sheer rock face at the end of the rapid. All the water piles into this face with predictable consequences for any canoeist unfortunate enough to get in the way.

dart.jpg About 1/2 mile later, after another sharp right turn you will come to a small, shallow rapid which is closely followed by 'Triple Drop', a series of three increasingly large natural drops within 50 metres of each other. The line through these depends very much on the water level, . The river then straightens and flattens for a while before 'The Spin Dryer', another natural rapid which does not in itself provide too many problems. The eddies below it, and especially the one on the right, provide the sting in the tail though, with many competent canoeists falling foul of the highly unpredictable currents here.

From here it is fairly simple paddling through the last rapid to Holne Bridge (SX731706). The egress point for the end of the Loop is no longer at this point. The next weir which is only 200 metres below Holne Bridge must be taken with extreme caution at medium and high flows as the stopper and towback are fierce. Under these conditions it is best shot on the extreme left. The egress point is approx. 1 mile beyond the weir on river right, just above WATERWORKS BRIDGE.