Mel Pool, Holne, Dartmoor National Park

Mel Pool, Holne, Dartmoor National Park

Wild swimming is popular in Dartmoor National Park. Mel Pool is one of the most beautiful, and remote, places in which you can enjoy it. A stretch of cascades and calm pools of water on the River Dart in the stunning Dart Gorge, it's relatively difficult to get to although nothing too challenging for a fit person.

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

The Dart Gorge is an amazing steep-sided gorge cut by the River Dart as it flows from the north moor down to Dartmouth. Mel Tor is a rocky outcrop on the north lip of the gorge. Bench Tor is another rocky outcrop on a spur of land on the south side of the gorge. Between Mel Tor and Bench Tor, all the way down at the bottom of the gorge, is Mel Pool where the Dart bends through particularly wild woodland and runs towards another wild swimming area called Sharrah Pool. Heavily wooded gorge walls tower above you and amplify the sound of water as it flows east.

To visit, follow the road that runs from Ashburton to Holne. Continue past Holne to Venford Reservoir on the edge of the south moor. There are two car parks on either side of the reservoir. Start from the car park to the east. From that car park, walk north west to the corner of the railings that surround the reservoir dam and water works. Drop down to a disused road. This runs round the spur of land on which Bench Tor is located. Follow the disused road for a few minutes and you'll see a track to your left that cuts down through bracken. It runs alongside Venford Brook as it drops to the edge of the River Dart. A path runs east. Follow the river downstream. You'll pass cascades, a waterfall and other pools of water in which you can swim. Somtimes you walk by the river. Sometimes you leave the bank and walk above the river. Mel Pool is located on the bend of the river as marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL28 'Dartmoor' map. There are giant slabs of granite and stretches of calm water.

Note that you can follow the river on foot down to Sharrah Pool. It's very difficult walking on narrow tracks and across slippery rocks. There are some steep climbs and drops so be very careful. Don't try this route if you are not a confident walker or reasonably fit. That said, we've done this with young kids so, in the scheme of things, it's not that difficult.