RIVER DART, England

riverdart

Coracle with oak branch paddle ("Dart" is the old Devonian word for oak) and water samples at Dartmouth, Devon, England. 2007.

People who worked for the Dart Catchment Project, sponsored by the Devon Wildlife Trust, gathered water samples from the twenty-eight-mile length of the river as part of a small Gathering of Waters. One can follow the path of this bucolic river, with its omnipresent swans and dripping lush green foliage, by the names of the towns -- Dartmoor, Dartmeet (where the east and west branches meet), Dartington, Dartmouth.

 

The coracle (currach in Scottish and Irish) is a shallow boat with no keel that is usually associated primarily with Wales, although similar designs can be found in many other countries. It is steered with one paddle that remains in the water following a figure 8 pattern. Lara Riley and I carry the boat made from ash lath and waterproofed calico, down a hill to a quiet Dartmouth cove and once we begin to learn how to maneuver this vessel, we pour the Dart’s gathered waters into its mouth.

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