A Medley of Pools on the Far Side
Jackie, Allan, Honey and I are scrambling through bright sunshine and delayed-spring bluebells along the Poundsgate side of the Double Dart. The track is rather more suited to goats than humans and in places it’s a mere foot-width across, hanging above the precipitous Dart Gorge by threads of roots, scree and loose soil. The bluebells are slightly faded but their scent is still tangled with the roar of the river and the bright green leaves that oscillate and flicker the light so that I feel a physical shiver.
We dip first below Mel Tor in one of the beautiful pools fed by falls that become part of the rapids in spate. There’s a luteous tinge to the water and splodges of acid green leach from the trees. It’s almost warm.
Wandering on, we stop of course at Sharrah, and plunge in from the rocks below the cascade. The northerly wind funnels down the gorge and ruffles the surface which shows its temperament of currents and eddies in a pointillist paisley of foam, like wrinkles on a face.
There’s a mucky and slippery climb and descent over pink, polished rocks before we float into Lower Sharrah, a pool that’s invisible from the Holne side of the river. It’s a beautiful, fairyland place, heavily shaded by the high gorge on the far side. We step in to the puddle of light by the bank where the sun pours over the oaks above like a waterfall. A cave is secreted at the bend, trailing with ivy and protected from swimmers by the force of water from the cascade.
Finally, we stop at Bel Pool where Allan uses the rope and iron ladder to climb down from the track and leap in from the rocks. Jackie, Honey and I watch from the gods as he swims, diminished in size like an insect in amber. On our way back we are mesmerised by a fluttering of butterflies and moths, brimstone, orange and blue, around bluebells and wood anemones. The May trees are finally beginning to bloom, a month or so late.