Another post about our weekend in Dartmoor? We definitely managed to squeeze in a lot of adventures into a couple of days…
During our stay at Paschoe House for my birthday, we also spent time exploring Dartmoor – first at Fernworthy Reservoir (read the blog post to find out my mum’s spooky story about this spot!) and then for a long walk and wild swim on our way home.
I’ve been camping and wild swimming in Dartmoor before, many years ago, but the trip ended in a downpour so heavy it flooded our tent and we had to pack up and go home half way through. However, we did make it down to Spitchwick, which is a popular picnic stop and wild swimming area in Holne area of Dartmoor. This time the weather was MUCH nicer (a beautiful 20 degrees sunshine, in fact), and I wanted to head to the same area but find the infamous Sharrah Pool instead.
Sharrah Pool is a well-known wild swim spot that I’ve read about many times in various outdoor blogs, and I’ve been determined to visit since our trip to Spitchwick. Spitchwick, while very beautiful, gets very busy in peak season due to being conveniently close to the nearby Newbridge car park without the need to walk very far. I’d heard Sharrah Pool wasn’t too much of a walk either, but tended to be slightly quieter.
Even though our visit was mid-September, it seemed as if the whole of the UK was still on holiday at that time due to months of lockdown in the summer. We certainly found in Cornwall that the tourist season this year (2020) ended up lasting until at least the end of September, so places were still pretty busy. And who could blame everyone – the weather was fantastic too!
Anyway, as we expected, Newbridge car park was utterly packed – one man genuinely nearly started a fight with us over a parking space that he had been hovering by but we hadn’t noticed 😂. We just laughed and told him to calm down, but this was the level of busy it was – after all, it’s actually only quite a small car park. We did manage to get a space, but in the chaos forgot that neither of us had any phone signal, which I had been planning to rely on for directions to Sharrah Pool.
With the dogs at our sides, we decided to head off roughly in the direction of where I thought Sharrah Pool would be. We had all afternoon and the weather was lovely, so we were happy to go exploring. We strolled off down the footpath at the back of the car park along the river, roughly in the direction of Holne Wood.
It was a stunning walk along the river, with plenty of spots for the dogs to run around and play in the water, but after about 30 minutes we definitely began to question whether we were going the right way. The directions I’d been told to Sharrah Pool had definitely mentioned a waterfall, of which we had seen none, and we both suspected we were on the wrong side of the river…
After an hour, the path started getting a little tricky; we’d kept close to the river the whole time and it ended up in a few steep trails going up the riverbanks. I was about to suggest to Alex to turn back, when he spotted a path back down to the river. He went to investigate, and then called the dogs and I on once he found it was safe.
It turns out we had stumbled upon our very own private wild swimming pool in the river!
There was a perfect deep pool with plenty of space for proper swimming, and a tree for us to rest our stuff on. Plus we even found an old iron ladder that you could climb down to a rocky ledge that was ideal for jumping off. And there wasn’t a soul in sight!
Our spot was total paradise and we spent ages here dipping into the icy cold water (honestly I think River Dart water is colder than the Atlantic – it was freezing even on this hot day!) and Alex did lots of jumping in from the ladder ledge too. Maisy also loved jumping in and out (she loves swimming when we’re in the water).
It was such a secluded spot that we had even considered going nude, but were glad we hadn’t when some other walkers came by the spot too. We needed to head off anyway to get back to the car, so we scrambled back up the path to leave them to it.
We both decided we would be naming this spot Ladder Pool, but after a bit of research I’ve found that the official name is ‘Bel Pool’. It’s a much quieter, secluded spot than the Sharrah Pools area, so we were so glad to have stumbled upon it while we were lost looking for that part! It was very lucky and just made the perfect end to a perfect birthday weekend.
If you’re on Dartmoor out looking for the ACTUAL Sharrah Pools (I will get there some day), Sian from The Girl Outdoors shares some directions in her post which might be clearer and stop you from getting lost like we did!
Or you can embrace getting lost like we did, and stumble upon your own peaceful paradise…