When it comes to river places, we all have our hidden gems.

That babbling brook tucked behind your local corner shop, the tyre swing hanging above a glistening pool that you stumbled across one Sunday afternoon wandering along the riverbanks…or maybe that wildflower island that sits where the river splits in your neighbour’s field.

These are the rivers we love, where wellies are outed, where picnics are spread, wildlife is admired and memories created.

Elly Greenway

Elly Greenway

Evidence and Engagement

These are the rivers we keep to ourselves.

But we’re not great at keeping these things secret at the Westcountry Rivers Trust. We’re lucky enough to spend our working days out on the river, exploring some of the Westcountry’s most unchartered riverscapes. It would be a shame for you to miss out.

So we’ve put together a pick of 5 hidden gems we really think you should know about…

1. Holne Wood, The River Dart (SX 71721 071705)

The River Dart boasts some of the most iconic river honeypots in the Westcountry. But it takes a certain amount of exploration and inside knowledge to chance upon the River Dart as it meets the River Webburn within Holne Wood. Just to the east of Poundsgate, the river is right off the beaten track and just the place to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.

2. Cow Castle, The River Barle (SS 79259 37244)

Tucked into an Exmoor valley, you could be forgiven for overlooking the River Barle at Cow Castle. A few kilometres upstream of the River Barle’s confluence with the River Exe, it winds its way through the expansive moorland valley and alongside the Iron Age hill fort of Cow Castle. Pull on your walking boots and take the Two Moors Way to Cow Castle.

3. Dendles Wood, The River Yealm (SX 61645 061377)

Places as untouched as Dendles Wood are hard to come by. Here the crystal-clear River Yealm pours around mossy boulders, through dappled beech and oak woodland and along banks aligned with blankets of sorrel and fungi. It is certainly worth the trek up from the nearest village of Cornwood.

4. Lady’s Edge, The Holford River (ST 14138 39840)

Many venture along the footpaths along the top of Crowcombe Gate on the Quantocks Hills. But how many have made their way down the hillside to Lady’s Edge? In this pocket of woodland, the tributaries of the small coastal Holford River begin its life before emerging 4.5 km later at Kilve Beach. This is the perfect fairytale setting with its trickling stream, clumps of whortleberries, winding pathways and native woodland.


5. South Brent Island, The River Avon (SX 69517 060299)

While many of our hidden gems are concealed in some secluded corner of the countryside, many can be uncovered within our towns and cities. One of these discoveries was the South Brent Island. Just a short stroll from the centre, a trip to the town can be tied in with a picnic and a dog walk on this peaceful island formed within two strands of the River Avon.

What hidden gems are you willing to share?