Spitchwick (Deeper Marsh/Spitchwick Common), Buckland in the Moor, Dartmoor National Park

Spitchwick (Deeper Marsh/Spitchwick Common), Buckland in the Moor, Dartmoor National Park

Wild swimming/picnic.

On maps, Spitchwick is usually marked as Deeper Marsh/Spitchwick Common. Most people, however, refer to the area as Spitchwick.

There are a small number of places in Dartmoor National Park that can get exceptionally crowded. Spitchwick is one of them. A large, grassy area running along a bend in the River Dart, it's often heaving with families having picnics and wild swimming in the holiday season. It's known for its natural beauty and is easily accessible from Ashburton and South Devon beyond.

Despite there being three good sized car parks in the immediate area and many more smaller car parks a little further away, it can be difficult to get parking. In places, rough cut giant granite steps lead down to beautifully clean moorland water. Cliffs rise on the far side of the river at the top of its bend and you'll see people fling themsleves off the side into the far, deep channel of water. Thick woodland surrounds the grassy area and river. Upstream is the stunning Dart Gorge. Downstream, the river arcs through private land on its way to the River Dart Country Park.

We've positioned Spitchwick on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.

To visit, follow the road that runs from Ashburton past the River Dart Country Park towards New Bridge. You cross the skinny New Bridge as it spans the River Dart. The main car park and toilets are in front of you. From there, you follow the north bank of the river under New Bridge to the Spitchwick area. You'll see the grassy area open out in front of you with the bend in the river and cliff face behind. Zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting of the accompanying Google map and you'll see people picnicking.

Alternatively, drive past the main car park and the road rises and curves on its way to the Tavistock Inn and Poundsgate. On the corner, to the right, a narrow road drops to two smaller car parking areas. Tracks lead out to the upper area of grass and the River Dart. Again, these car parking areas are visible on Google's satellite imagery. There are many more sets of rough cut giant granite steps in this section. At the top of Spitchwick is a semi-circle of these steps and a super view down the River Dart. Great for wild swimming.

If wild swimming appeals, we'd recommend following the good track that runs west through the National Trust's Holne Woods into the Dart Gorge. You'll pass plenty of pools of water and cascades along the river. At the far end of Holne Woods, about a fifty minute walk from New Bridge, is a flat area of woodland next to a long pool of water. This is Sharrah Pool.

Spitchwick is in one of the most beautiful areas of Dartmoor National Park. If you fancy stretching your legs, we'd recommend following the Two Moors Way that runs through Spitchwick to Leigh Tor. From there, the way rises to Dr Blackall's Drive. The good, even path runs along the northern lip of the gorge. The views down into the gorge and across to Bench Tor are quite something.

From Spitchwick, we'd also suggest you drive up to Venford Reservoir. Leave your car in the car parking area just east of the dam wall. Wander out to Bench Tor. Views west and east down to the River Dart are exceptional. Refer to the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map or Harvey British Mountain Map 'Dartmoor' map for detail.