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 and walking

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 a good sized car park in the immediate area and many more smaller car parking areas further away from which you can walk in, 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 themselves 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.


Directions to Spitchwick (Deeper Marsh/Spitchwick Common)

To visit, follow the road that runs from Ashburton past the River Dart Country Park towards New Bridge (Newbridge). 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.

Tracks run north to the upper area of grass and the River Dart. 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.

Wild swimming has become very popular on Dartmoor in recent years. This has put places like Spitchwick under increasing strain. There used to be two smaller car parking areas just north west of New Bridge (the road rises and curves from the main car park on its way to the Tavistock Inn and Poundsgate. On the corner, to the right, a narrow road drops to these two smaller car parking areas). These have now been blocked off even though they are still marked on Ordnance Survey mapping. Also note that in recent years double yellow lines have been added to the moorland lanes leading to Spitchwick. For example, you can no longer park on the steep lane that climbs Newbridge Hill from the Spitchwick area.

These measures were introduced to reduce the number of people visiting Spitchwick. We'd recommend wild swimming/pinicking elsewhere on Dartmoor in the high season (July/August). Spitchwick's popularity has become a real problem for those living and working in the area.


Other wild swimming spots in the local area

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.

Mel Pool is further up the river from Sharrah Pool.

See also our Best Dartmoor Wild Swimming listing.


Walking in the Spitchwick (Deeper Marsh/Spitchwick Common) area

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 Walk. 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.


Other picnic spots on Dartmoor

See our Best Dartmoor Picnic Spots listing.