East Dart Waterfall
The first waterfall in my new blog series ‘Waterfalls of Cornwall and Devon’ is East Dart Waterfall, or as I prefer to call it, Sandy Hole Waterfall. It’s less than half a mile downriver from Sandy Hole Pass and I’ve always visited both at the same time and so grouped them together.
Last weekend I decided to undertake my first wild camping trip alone on Dartmoor, in fact, I think it was my first wild camping trip alone anywhere. Sandy Hole Pass holds fond memories for me from my Ten Tors days when it seemed every route ended up passing through the pass and over the top of the waterfall. Back then I was too busy putting one leg in front of the other to photograph it and so I made it my mission to walk there and have a proper look around. The route below is the quickest way there and can be done in an afternoon.
There are plenty of free small car parks along the road either side of Postbridge which you can park at if you don’t mind the slightly longer walk and happy to plan your own route across the moor. Alternatively you can stop at Postbridge car park or Bellever Tor car park. As always when walking on Dartmoor, make sure you wear sturdy walking boots and come prepared for rain.
The waterfall cascades diagonally off large granite slabs and then down into a large pool. It’s not the tallest waterfall or the most dramatic but the location in the depths of Dartmoor and near the head of the East Dart river sets it apart from the rest.
Once described as a “wild and deserted spot”, this has now become a seasonal description. It fits for the colder months but during the summer the pool is popular for swimming and you will often find people having picnics, sunbathing and swimming.
A message that was reiterated to us many times on Ten Tors training weekends was that you should always undo your hip belt when crossing a river, as it allows you to easily slip your rucksack off if you were to fall in – which makes sense and I still do it when crossing a river swollen with rain. When we arrived at Sandy Hole Waterfall on one of the training weekends we all undid our rucksacks as usual, but what I had forgotten is that I tended to stuff the map inside my waterproof jacket and along with the hip belt it provides an easy to access pocket when its drizzling. You can probably see where this is going… I was mid way across the waterfall when out falls the waterproof map. I make a lunge for it but it’s already too late and the map is happily tumbling its way down the river. It had been a wet week and we gave the map up as lost.
If you happen to visit after heavy rain consider going back the same way you came to avoid crossing the waterfall. The crossing point along the top can get very slippery and if my map is anything to go by, the water is very powerful.