When the river level rises and more and more debris becomes trapped by the trees on the riverbank the flow bottlenecks around the islands at Staverton and floods over the sandbanks and drowns the paths. Last winter there was one day of extreme flooding, some of the highest levels recorded on the Dart and it shows. Several huge trees are strewn about, along with countless large branches, with one 10 foot long log caught high up a tree. It is all free firewood until someone says otherwise, so I’ll come back for that piece later.
Still Pool lives up to its name. The river is glass smooth as down here amongst the trees even the slight breeze has been nullified and now a little sunshine is pushing through the thinning clouds causing the water to sparkle.
The water is however nothing like as clear as it has been the last couple of weeks, in fact it is positively murky, a dirty khaki green, quite disappointing. The muddying of the water is directly linked with the rising temperature, last Friday it was just over 8C but it must be 13C today. There is certainly no ‘bite’ as I step into the shallows and wade out over the soft edged pebbles, sending concentric ripples over the surface.
A new rope swing hangs from the oak but my attention is snatched away by a kingfisher which flits onto a perch then darts away in a whirl of iridescent wings. That’s the second I’ve seen this year on the river. They were scarce last year but plentiful in both 2013 and ’14 let’s hope there will be many more this year. And then just as I go to drop in the water a nuthatch flits onto the oak tree opposite and dives into a small dark hole in the scar left by a fallen branch. After a moment the bird’s face appears at the window, takes a look around and then is off foraging again.
My swim has been short but this is a favourite spot right through to October and especially so in June and July. Once the water has properly warmed it is a fabulous place to come first thing in the morning, walking down through the stand of towering redwood trees in that special early morning silence to the pool absolutely still which just for that first hour of the day catches the full sunshine.
I will just have to be patient until that day.