The heatwave continues, and Honey and I are heading downstream from Dartmeet today in order to veg out on a rock somewhere and get very wet as often as we possibly can. There is a smattering of people around, most of them in the river. When we jump into the first pool, a couple join us fully-clothed. They tell me they hadn’t intended to swim. The water’s gorgeous and it’s only the difference in temperature between the air (30°c!!!) and the water that makes the river feel cool. There’s barely a breeze.
I don’t know this upper stretch of the Double Dart that well, and there are endless shallow but swimmable pools, a couple on open moorland, then a sudden change of character as the river begins to rush downhill. In this lower part there are deeper, smaller pools, little canyons and waterfalls and the familiar ancient woodland hangs overhead. Trees grow through rocks and roots thrust down to the water. A holly bush some ten feet above the river is draped with dried grasses, little flags reminding us of the potential power of this summery and benign-looking valley.
We wander, swim, float, shoot down narrows and sit under cascades. In between we lie around on hot rocks. Most of these are flat slabs surrounded by river and it feels like floating as the water rushes past at eye level. I read my book, do a bit of writing in my little notebook, eat my carrot hummous and pitta bread and take photos. Honey rootles around in the undergrowth, or indulges with great focus and concentration in one of her absolutely favourite pass times; bubble-watching. It’s not often that I stop and just hang out somewhere and the solitude is exactly what I need.
Beautiful Desmoiselles are everywhere, and a bright orange butterfly plays around us for a while. I notice the layers of sounds that make up what at first appears to be the white noise of the Dart; soughing, plinking, deep hollow plops, tinkles, gurgles and then a sound like waves that ebbs and flows. We wander back up towards the car park when my skin begins to glow from the sun. I’m pretty tanned, but I have parts that are less well-acclimatised than others to an actual, full-on summer with sun and everything. We arrive back at Dartmeet some six hours after we set off; I scoff a wonderfully cold strawberry cornet while Honey crashes soggily on her van bed.