River Dart

From Academic Kids

The River Dart is a river in Devon, UK.

The Dart rises on Dartmoor, as two separate branches (the East Dart and West Dart), which join at Dartmeet. The paths along these rivers offer very attractive walking, and there are several small waterfalls. The rivers are crossed by a number of clapper bridges, notably at the hamlet of Postbridge.

After leaving the moor, the Dart flows southwards past Buckfast Abbey and through the towns of Buckfastleigh, Dartington and Totnes. At Totnes, where there is a 17 Century wier, it becomes tidal, and there are no bridges below this point. The Dart estuary is a large ria and is popular for sailing. The towns of Kingswear and Dartmouth are on the east and west sides of the estuary, and are linked by a vehicle ferry.

The river takes its name from a Celtic word meaning 'many oaks' due to the banks of the lower Dart being covered in ancient woods of native oak.

The River Dart is the source of much folklore on Dartmoor, where it is traditionally respected and feared - the waters have a tendency to rise without notice following heavy rainfall on the moors above, adding to the dangers of its rapids and powerful currents. This gave rise to the couplet:

"River of Dart, Oh River of Dart!
Every year thou claimest a heart."

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