While searching for new places to swim and explore, I came across Drew's Weir and the Salmon Leaps near Castle Drogo in Chagford. I sort of skipped over it to start with, but then an old school friend posted pictures of him swimming there, which peaked my interest a bit.
We often swim on Dartmoor, usually at Spitchwick, so I know how lovely it can be to swim in the middle of nature with no cars and very few people around. I also know what it's like to swim in very cold water, which is always what you get when swimming in Dartmoor rivers.
When we got to Chagford, we found it a bit busier than we had expected. It seemed we had chosen to go on the same day as the Chagford Show was happening. While this meant the roads were fairly busy, it also meant packing was faitlu simple as there were several large car parks set up in fields near by. We had already been told not to park at the castle as the walk was longer and there were charges to pay.
Unfortunately, the show made it a bot more difficult to find a route to the weir because the one we were going to follow wasn't open unless we wanted to go into the show. We ultimately found Hunters Path, which took us above the river along a wooded path that was incredibly quiet.
The first site we got of the weir was when we were crossing a bridge and it looked beautiful. It was incredibly quiet and although there were a few people on the path at points, no one was heading in for a dip. The river formed a huge pool that was really calm and had brown trout swimming it.
Rather than a natural waterfall, which would have meant the water flowed too quickly for swimming, there are three pools, which were built during the Victorian times. These were originally built to allow wild salmon to jump up river - hence the name Salmon Leaps - but are also great natural jacuzzis.
The weir also has a jetty and boulders laid out to make getting into the water a lot easier, which my mum and I really appreciated!
It was incredibly peaceful swimming around in the slow moving river in an area completely surrounded by trees and with only the sounds of birds in the air. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this was my favourite wild swimming experience so far.
We spoke to a few people as they walked past who couldn't quite believe that we were swimming in the river, but other than that, we had the place totally to ourselves, which was lovely.
We still ended up racking up just over 15,000 steps all before lunch. It was totally worth it though, as we found a new favourite place that we'll be going back to in the future.
If anyone happens to find a faster route to the weir and a better place to park, let me know!