The neverending quest for beautiful places to swim in the wild in Britain continues. This time my lovely friend Kate took me to seek out a deep cold pool in the river Dart.
Wild swimming Sharrah Pools, Dartmoor
Follow the winding river Dart far enough and you’ll come to a deep, glassy pool of crystalline water. Sharrah Pool is an otherworldly spot, flanked by woodland – it looks like a place where water babies and Dartmoor pixies might congregate for a swim. You’ll know you’ve found it when you come across a clearing in the trees and a wider, still part of the river where the water is so clear you can peer down at the bottom. There are wide, flat rocks where you can sunbathe or discard all your cothes and dive into the water, which is skin-tingingly cold all year round thanks to the fresh, flowing river. It’s a bit of a shock to the system, but once the first wave of cold passes over your body a tinging sense of calm, almost of warmth, takes over and it feels blissful.
Dartmoor native Kate, Immy, the Wild Rambler and I went hunting for the pools on a drizzly day. We followed the river path through the woods, past a flowing waterfall and then found the pools and egged each other to dive in despite the chill. When we’d clambered out and piled all our layers back on we cooked up hot chooclate laced with whisky on my stove, warming up our bones whilst our swimming costumed dripped from tree boughs. I can’t think of a better way to wild swim than that.
How to get to Sharrah Pools
Start at New Bridge (there’s a handy car park here) and cross the bridge – you’ll find a forestry footpath winding upstream through Holne Woods. Cross a waterfall and you’ll descent to a flat, open area of woodland next to Sharrah Pool, which will be on your right at SX712708 – it’s recognisable for its big, flat rocks and sandy spots, and there’s also a rope swing on the opposite shore.