East Dart River, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

East Dart River, Dartmoor, Dartmoor National Park

The East Dart River rises at East Dart Head on Dartmoor's high north plateau. For much of the year, it's a boggy area that's unpleasant to walk around. It becomes much more accessible after periods of dry and windy weather and is very much worth visiting. The famous Dartmoor letterbox Cranmere Pool is a short, if difficult, walk north west of the East Dart Head and many of Devon's main rivers rise in this section of the National Park.

From these headwaters, the water runs south. This close to the source, the East Dart River is skinny so it's easy to step, or jump, across its channel. Whitehorse Hill rises gently to the east and Black Hill to the west. The water runs past a couple of ruined tinner's huts before it widens around Kit Rocks. It's still possible easily to cross the river at this point. Cut Hill Stream and Cut Hill Water run down from the high ground of Cut Hill to join the East Dart River by Kit Steps. From there, the East Dart River flows through an extraordinary mining landscape on the west bank of the river and an area of marsh to the east until it comes to the impressive Sandy Hole Pass. Further downstream the water tumbles down the East Dart River Waterfall and then arcs around the mass of Broad Down towards Postbridge.

Having run under Postbridge Clapper Bridge, the river skirts Bellever Forest past the ruined Bellever Clapper Bridge towards Laughter Hole Stepping Stones. The East Dart River meets the West Dart River at Dartmeet from which it passes through the extraordinarily beautiful Dart Gorge.

Crossing the East Dart River

Crossing Dartmoor's many rivers can be a frustrating experience. After periods of wet weather, many rivers become impassable unless there's a solid bridge to cross. Below is a list of crossing points for the East Dart River that we've used over the years. Some apply all year round. Others are impassble when the water is high. The list works from the East Dart Head down to Dartmeet. We'll add further information as we cross the river in future years. We'd love to add your suggestions as well.

East Dart Head to Kit Rocks. The upper stretch of the river is very narrow. You can step across much of it. Around Kit Rocks, there are chunks of granite in the water that act like stepping stones.

Kit Rocks down to Kit Steps. Kit Steps is not marked on the Ordnance Survey OL28 'Dartmoor' map but it's a waterfall located close to where Cut Hill Stream and Cut Hill Water join the East Dart River. This is a popular crossing place. Even so, after periods of heavy rain, we'd still recommend heading further upstream to cross the river.

Kit Steps to East Dart River Waterfall. When the water is high, we find this section of the river impassable. In dry weather, however, there are numerous crossing places with shallow water flowing over beds of stones. For example, in dry weather it's easy to cross at the southern end of Sandy Hole Pass. You'll also see small 'beaches' of sand in this stretch of the river which normally signal a crossing place. The most popular crossing place on this section of the river is the East Dart River Waterfall. There are big slabs of granite you can walk across. Again, all these crossing areas become impassable after a spell of wet weather as the water is too high and the current too strong. Do not try to cross in these conditions. Head upstream.

East Dart River Waterfall to Postbridge. Downstream of the waterfall, the river tumbles through a rocky valley. In dry weather, you can hop across rocks on sections of the river here. Again, we always head further up the river or down to Postbridge after wet weather safely to cross the river. Where the river bends sharply south near the Beehive Hut, there's an area of shallow water flowing over a wide bed of stones. We've crossed here. At Postbridge, there a chunky granite bridge or the famous clapper bridge.

Postbridge to Dartmeet. To cross the river by Bellever Forest, use Bellever Bridge next to its ruined clapper bridge. There are Laughter Hole Stepping Stones on the southern boundary of the forest but these are impassable in wet weather. There are more stepping stones near Babeny. Dartmeet has another chunky granite bridge used by cars, lorries etc.