Wild Swimming on Dartmoor
Shilley Pool, Okehampton
This is a little secret gem! Its one of Dartmoor’s best kept in the wild swimming community. It can be found just below Blackaton Brook which feeds the tarn, It was featured in Roger Deakins timeless book, waterlog, which gives it its cult type status amongst wild swimmers.
It is a little way off the beaten track so beware of nearby bogs, particularly the area known as Raybarrow Pool which carries the infamous reputation as one of Dartmoor’s most dangerous mires. For that reason, please plan your route meticulously and stick to firm ground.
Haytor Quarry Pools, near Bovey Tracey
Haytor Quarry finds itself in the most idyllic location, surrounded by sweeping heath lands and ancient trails. With its natural rocky shelter keeps the pool out of the wind making it a great spot in the colder months. It does have some deep sections that may feel quite cold, so be careful and always go with others.
Sharrah Pool, near Poundsgate
This spot is simply stunning and very easy to get to. It can be quite busy in the hotter months as its quite easy to reach from Plymouth and Exeter. There is a track that runs along the river bank which proves popular with dog walkers and ramblers. That said it is definitely one for your list. The water is cold and crystal clear, the small rapids makes this a must for children and adults seeking something different. It is set in the hart of the woods, with steep rocky and tree strewn sides it can give the impression that your in a set from Lord of the Rings.
Spitchwick Common, near Ashburton
The waters of Spitchwick Common, also known as Deeper Marsh remain one of Dartmoor’s most cherished wild swimming locations. This is still the river Dart and is best just downstream of the Dart Gorge. It is close to Spitchwick Manor and the historic grounds of Buckfast Abbey. The town of Ashburton is also worth a visit. This is known to the locals as the gateway to Dartmoor!
Salmon Leaps, near Chagford
We have now moved over to the River Teign, to the West of Datmoor. This spot is close to the National Trust’s Castle Drogo, an impressive castle set up on the hills. The River is set in an ancient woodland and is easy to find. There is a series of square plunge pools, about a meter deep. You can, if wearing a wetsuit slide down from pool to pool!
Cullever Steps Pool, Belstone
Back to the North west of the moors now to a small village called Belstone. Here you will find the Cullever steps. They are one of the smaller pools on our list but still well worth a visit. The pool is fed by the East Okement River and can be found a little way downstream. Not far from the pool is the charming village of Belstone where you’ll find the Tors Inn.
Cowsic Waterfall Pool, Two Bridges
This is one of our favourite spots, possibly as we live quite close. It is set near the ancient and mystical Wistman’s Woods. You can park near the Two Bridges Inn and follow the track which runs alongside the Cowsic River. Follow this upstream, towards Beardown Farm. You may need to scramble to the waters edge, so this is the best spot for small children.
This is really easy to find and possibly the largest of all spots mentioned. It can be very deep and cold in places. This is a great place to watch swimmers from down below but go careful as the edges can be very slippery.