One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

The Prehistoric World of Turn Teign

Floating in My Funky Shorts

Honey and Joe

I heard about this pool on the river Teign after an entertaining, chance conversation with a 90 year-old Chagford woman who used to swim here.  I stuck a quick request on Facebook for anyone who’d like to come with me to find it, and was immediately contacted by Joe who’s always up for an adventure. It was a sunny, June afternoon, and there were still bluebells in the woods. We found the pool after a protracted scramble down the occasionally treacherous cleave through bogs, trees, rocks and undergrowth.  At some point this must have been in regular use as evidenced by the remains of an overgrown boardwalk and a clam bridge downstream from the pool.

The top end of the pool is plugged by massive boulders cloaked in moss, like something out of an Indiana Jones film. Knowing the power of Dartmoor river spates we speculated that these were most likely sent crashing down here in a huge storm many years ago. The water trickles thorough the boulder plug to the pool, and also from a tiny brook through a mini side-gorge. As Joe said: ‘I feel like we’re intruders in a primeval landscape’, and there was indeed a sense that a dinosaur might suddenly materialise from the crazy tangle of undergrowth, mossy boulders, ferns, contorted trees, and oozing peat the colour of dark chocolate.

The water was fresh and surprisingly warm, and as we swam we stirred up swarms of feathery, long- rotted vegetation like baby pterodactyls. We spent 50 minutes swimming and floating, bathed in grass-green light and ivy-green water, sunlight glinting gold, and with just the sound of the river and the birds, and a view of the faraway blue sky and another world through the trees above.

Joe waves from deep in the pool

Fellow Swimmers

Honey and Joe


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6 thoughts on “The Prehistoric World of Turn Teign

  1. Great photos, especially the flowery shorts and the dog!

  2. kris. on said:

    can you please tell where this pool is, we are going for a stay near Castle Drogo, 200 yards from the River Teign, so we are most likely of walking distance of this pool.

    • Hi Kris,
      the pool is in a gorge near to Batworthy (Chagford is the nearest town), below Kes Tor – it’s not really within easy walking distance from Drogo. See http://wildswim.com/turn-teign-pool for map. There are other pools upstream on the moor too.
      However, Drogo has some lovely pools on the estate. The river valley is mostly wooded and very beautiful with an easy path along the river. The first sport to find is above the Salmon Leaps – it’s a huge pool dammed by Drew (who had Drogo built) for fishing. The salmon leaps are lovely too, you can sit in them and get flung around in the bubbles like a big jacuzzi, as long as the water’s not too high http://wildswim.com/drews-weir-and-pool. Also, downstream from there about 20-30 mins walk is a lovely pool above Fingle Bridge with a nice pub nearby http://wildswim.com/fingle-bridge. Between the two are several swimmable pools and dipping spots. Hope this helps. It’s well worth visiting the Dart on the high moors too if you can get up there! Also Castle Drogo is beautiful. Hope you enjoy your visit 🙂

  3. Ahhh…you describe this place so wonderfully 😊 and beautiful pictures. Is this the swimming spot near Batworthy could you tell me please? I went to see the settlements around that area couple of weeks ago and I am hoping to go back to the swimming spot. I was just wondering I this is that very spot? Many thanks 😊 🏊

    • Hi there Bil, yes it is indeed near Batworthy, down into the cleave from Round Pound at the downstream end of the little island near the old concrete water works (we think) hut. One heck of a scramble and very overgrown, but well worth the trip and it’s not very far! Have you been there before?

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