Spitchwick - An Idyll nestled on the banks of the river Dart, Dartmoor
When you think of Dartmoor you probably conjure up images of vast moorland, stretching out across all the horizons, perhaps dotted with ponies or sheep. This is not what you’ll find at Spitchwick.
What you will find is a little idyll comprised of a green common, the river dart idling by carving out little private nooks and crannies to lounge on, or widening to create larger, wild swimming opportunities. That’s what Spitchwick provides. And it sits right at the heart of Dartmoor.
Whilst you’re in the area be sure to check out the ancient, twisted and stunted trees over at Wistmans Wood as well!
You can either approach from the Devon Expressway (The A38) from the South or the B3357 from the North and deeper in Dartmoor.
Approaching from the North takes you along narrow, steep and winding roads and forces you to traverse the narrow streets of Poundsgate. From the South it’s just a short jaunt from the main road and a much easier drive.
However please note that from the South direction there is a narrow(ish) bridge of 2.3 meters (no weight restriction) so if your vehicle is too large then consider the other route – longer, trickier, but no narrow bridge.
When we visited, we were in our campervan which is 6 meters long and 2.05 meters wide and we arrived from the north and left to the south just fine.
Parking at Spitchwick
Newbridge carpark is a simple affair, £2 for the day (as of April 2021) with space for approximately 50 – 60 vehicles, so if you’re visiting during tourist season or on a particularly nice day it is definitely worth arriving early or you might be out of luck as it is a popular place.
What is quite nice though is that because it is a smaller car park it stops Spitchwick from becoming absolutely overrun even on the most popular of days.
Facilities at Spitchwick
All your basic needs are covered with free toilets, large bins (although they get full on busy days, and if so, please just take your rubbish home with you), often an ice cream van and even a post box!
Accessing the Common & River Dart
The path up to the common and the swimming areas begins beneath the bridge and is approximately half a mile to the common. The path is fairly rocky, rooty and steep in places (see below).
Therefore, it might be tricky (we’d say impassable ourselves) for wheelchairs, pushchairs or those with reduced mobility.
A long strip of perfectly green grass, the river on one side and woodland on the other Spitchwick common is the perfect place to pass the time bbqing, hanging out with friends, swimming, playing ball games and generally making merry on a nice day.
Please be sensible with bbqs and protect the grass if using a disposable one. And don’t leave leftovers or rubbish behind. The summer months are becoming renowned for heaps of rubbish and anti-social behaviour. Let’s be part of the solution and not the problem! A short account of the troubles of recent years can be found here or here.
The common is partially separated into different areas, so around each corner you may be greeted with an area full of revellers, a deserted spot or a game of football, cricket etc.
Spitchwick is fully dog friendly but perhaps it is best to keep most dogs on lead or under very close supervision if people are eating, cooking or laying about sunbathing.
You may be able to snatch the odd bit of off lead time here and there to let your pooch burn off some energy but don’t go there assuming it will be appropriate.
Wild Swimming & SUPing on the River Dart at Spitchwick
Plenty of places to swim present themselves at various entrance points along the way.
Choose between mingling with the crowds at the first large green or find yourselves a little private beach somewhere along the walk.
The river is usually gentle, not too deep but pretty cold. So whether you want to just cool off your feet or have a proper swim there will be somewhere for you to indulge.
We decided not to SUP on our visit but others were out on their boards. On our visit in April the river was often too shallow and to go any meaningful distance would have meant a lot of jumping off and pushing the board to avoid grounding. But if you’re just after a leisurely float, or somewhere to give it a go then you won’t go far wrong.
Places to stay around Spitchwick
Hotels & B&Bs close to Spitchwick
Camping at Spitchwick
While camping is not feasible at Spitchwick itself you do have a number of options close by:
Ashbourne Woods – 20 minutes by car (approach from the South route)
Wray Valley Camping – 30 minutes by car (approach from the South route)
Westdown Farm Wild Camping – 1 hour by car (approach from the North route)
Tavistock Camping & Caravanning Club Site – 30 minutes by car (approach from the North route)
So, if you’re after something a little different on Dartmoor to spend the day relaxing, playing sports, swimming and eating good food then get there early and we reckon you’ll have a cracker of a day.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve been to Spitchwick and what your thoughts are.