Another river scramble on Dartmoor; this time it’s the East Okement which cleaves the rock from Belstone Ridge through Halstock Woods. We have a nice little gang of explorers and, as usual for when Deb visits from Kernow, ‘things’ happen. Today we walk a couple of miles to the ancient Chapel Ford, where there is also a clam bridge and steps, and descend back to the flatter area below the falls in order to change into our water gear. At this point we are passed by an elderly and clearly vulnerable man, who stumbles and falls. He turns out to be missing from his home. Once we’ve escorted him back, slowly, to the waiting police and returned to our swim spot a good hour has passed.
We’re now wet from the rain, and desperate to join Lucien in the river. The fun and beautiful part of the East Okement is a long, narrow sequence of cascades overhung by indigenous deciduous woodland. The rock is black and slithery, rippled and ridged in a negative of the river. Each little basin and gully is filled and emptied at either end by waterfalls. We don’t dare to slide down the biggie which is around twenty feet high and which ends in a flat rock rather than a pool, although we lean over and marvel at its dramatic curved turns. We follow Lucien and climb in from below for a pummelling.
Each pool lurks beneath near vertical walls and trees and echoes with the sound of water gurgling and falling. Our breath mists the surface against the dark, dank rock and we’re soon chilled and shivering. Such elemental beauty overcomes any discomfort, although as Sophie says, we ought really have done this during the heatwave.
Thanks again to Allan Macfadyen for the photos.