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Anchoring in the River Dart

After a night on the visitor pontoon in Dartmouth we decided to head up river and explore what this beautiful part of the world had to offer. Last season we explored Dartmouth and the surrounding area in depth so we didn’t feel the need to do it again. Besides we had loved our time up the Fal last year so were hoping the River Dart would offer us the same tranquility and escapism we so craved.

White Rock Anchorage

We slipped up on the flood tide, heading to the anchorage at White Rock, at the entrance to Bow Creek. We dropped the hook but, as the tide later fell and with it being springs, we felt a little too close to shore for comfort. So we moved out a little to position 50°23.925N 003°38.095W and immediately felt happier. Holding was good and with 25m out and there just being the two boats in the anchorage we enjoyed a few days of complete peace in this idyllic little spot.

White Rock Anchorage, River Dart

Stoke Gabriel

Close to the anchorage is the little village of Stoke Gabriel. They have two handy pontoons here for tying your dinghy up too. Please be aware that the entrance is tidal and does dry so if you’re approaching low water you will need to use the pontoon at Mill Point (this has no access to or from the shore at high water). Otherwise if you’re approaching high water you can go up the entrance to the main short stay dinghy pontoon where you can tie up for a maximum of 6 hours. There is also a handy freshwater tap here for filling up Jerry Cans – worth bringing a threaded hose adapter and short piece of hose to help.

Stoke Gabriel Landing Pontoon at Low Water
Mill Point Landing Pontoon

The village itself is picturesque and quaint with a couple of pubs and a small, but well stocked, shop. However its claim to fame is the remarkable, and massive, ancient Yew tree in the churchyard – it’s reported to be over 1000 years old! If, like us, you feel a real connection to nature then a hug of this tree is in order! And apparently legend says ‘Walk ye backward round about me, 7 times round for all to see, Stumble not and then for certain, One true wish will come to thee’ 🌳

Church of St Mary and St Gabriel
The Yew Tree

Tuckenhay

Just 1nm up Bow Creek is the small hamlet of Tuckenhay. The creek is accessible for shallower draught boats around 3 hours either side of high water so we took the opportunity to dinghy up there one beautiful evening. 

Located on the riverbank is The Maltsters Arms, which was once owned by the late TV chef Keith Floyd. They have a small floating pontoon that you can tie up to. A short stroll along the lane is the Waterman’s Arms, a 17th century pub overlooking the river at Bow Bridge. Of course we just had to enjoy a drink in both, it would have been rude not too!

The Maltsters Arms, Tuckenhay
The Waterman’s Arms, Tuckenhay
Family of Geese on the River Dart

Totnes

Further up river is the market town of Totnes. Whilst it is possible to go all the way up at high water in a ‘bigger boat’ you need to be prepared to dry out. So we left the ‘bigger boat’ at anchor and opted for the safer option of going by dinghy!

It’s approximately 3nm up the river from the anchorage at Bow Creek. The river gently winds its way up cutting through the lush rolling, green hills and dense wooded areas of Devon. Not that we’ve ever been but we felt as though we were in bear territory in Canada – those that have been would probably disagree, but there was a distinct wilderness feel about it!

Riverbank on the River Dart
Approaching Totnes

On our arrival we were approximately 4 hours before high water so we actually had to hold back slightly on our finally approach as it was getting very shallow. Eventually we eased ourselves up looking for somewhere that we could land the dinghy. We spotted a floating (and empty) pontoon belonging to the Totnes Boating Association so we asked if we could tie up. They said No! 🤣 Fortunately the guys at Baltic Wharf Boatyard were more accommodating allowing us to tie up to their pontoon for as long as we wished, for a £5 charge.

Totnes Mid River Moorings
The Albert Inn and St John’s Church

The town of Totnes is rather bustling with quaint shops and historic buildings. We took the opportunity to stock up on a few supplies at the local Morrisons supermarket before catching the tide back down to our anchorage.

Sandridge Boathouse Anchorage

After a blissful few days up at White Rock it was time to head back down river, just 1.5nm down river in fact, to our next anchorage at Sandridge Boathouse, which is available for holiday lets if you’re interested!

Sandridge Boathouse Anchorage

We anchored literally in front of the boathouse and were joined by two other yachts. Our anchor bit well and we enjoyed a relaxing day on the hook, watching the local birdlife and even a lone seal.

As we approached the last two hours of the flood tide, and with the wind coming from the west (not the north as forecasted!) we started what we can only describe as a pirouette dance with our neighbouring yacht! Our shoal keel and relatively high sides seem to have contributed to this curious ‘Dancing on Ice‘ spinning routine around the anchorage with our partnering Bavaria yacht! An interesting few hours to say the least!

Anchor Track at Sandridge Boathouse Anchorage

Dittisham

Situated on the western side of the River Dart is Dittisham, just a short dinghy ride from the anchorage at Sandridge Boathouse. It is possible to tie your dinghy up on the floating pontoon for a period of up to 6 hours and rubbish can be disposed of on the dedicated floating pontoon nearby.

Dinghy Pontoon, Dittisham
Waste Pontoon, Dittisham

Dittisham is a small village, and to be honest there’s not a great deal here, but it’s still worth a visit. On the quayside you’ll find the Ferry Boat Inn (known locally as The FBI 🤣) and the Anchorstone Cafe. Further up the hill is St George’s Church and The Red Lion – a pub which also serves as a post office and village shop meaning you can have a pint, post your postcards (does anyone actually do this anymore? #retro ) and get a loaf of bread, all in one place! And of course if you love walking then you can hike to the top of Dartmouth.

St George’s Church, Dittisham
The Red Lion Inn, Dittisham

A short passenger ferry ride across the river will take you to Greenway, the holiday home of Agatha Christie. We visited Greenway on our last visit to Dartmouth and can highly recommend it!

Family of ducks on the River Dart

The River Dart is absolutely beautiful and we loved anchoring here. One thing we did notice, with it being springs, is the amount of logs and twigs that get dislodged at high tide and dragged down the river, so don’t be too alarmed if you keep hearing knocks on your hull! We only dropped the hook at White Rock and the Sandridge Boathouse but there are a few other places, namely on the Kingswear side of the large mainstream admiralty mooring buoys (close to Darthaven Marina), to the south of Anchorstone and just across the water from the boathouse at Blackness Rock, at the entrance to Dittisham Mill Creek. If you are prepared to dry out against a wall then you can go right up the river to Totnes, if not then White Rock is pretty much the furthest you can go. Harbour dues are payable of £1.05 per metre, per day on all vessels up to 24m LOA (prices correct May 2023) and the Harbour Patrol collect this either in the evening or first thing in the morning.

VIDEO: Exploring the River Dart

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