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Fundraising appeal launched for urgent repairs to land at the River Dart

A fundraising campaign has been set up by British Canoeing Volunteers and the South West Regional Development team to raise funds for the land at the River Dart near to Holne Bridge.

River Dart Land 2

The land, situated within the beautiful setting of the River Dart in Devon is very special location, popular with paddlers, swimmers and anglers alike. Importantly, this small section of woodland is a crucial access point to the River Dart loop and lower Dart. Bank erosion has in recent years become a serious problem and urgent reinforcement work now needs to be undertaken. The recent flooding in the area has worsened the problem, meaning work is now more urgently needed than ever.  

The land at Holne Bridge was purchased in 1991 by two local paddlers. The site is owned by British Canoeing, but managed and cared for by dedicated local volunteers, Pete Thorn and Brian Taylor. 

Used by hundreds of paddlers every year, it is a valuable access point to the river for those tackling the popular ‘Dart Loop’. Peter Thorn, South West Regional Waterway Advisor has been looking after the site at Holne for over a decade and is leading the effort to raise funds for the site. Asked why this work is needed now, Pete said:

Over recent years, the bank has suffered from erosion, especially around the area closest to Holne Weir itself. The repairs will aim to reinforce the bank using local stone as well as pay for the planting of willow and grass to protect from further erosion.

– Peter Thorn, South West Regional Waterway Advisor

The South West Regional Development Team have received quotes for doing the repairs and are targeting a minimum of £15,000 to complete the work. Surpassing this target will enable other works to be carried out on site, including more planting and habitat creation for wildlife.

Permissions from the Environment Agency, Dartmoor National Park Authority and Devon County Council have all been sought, all that’s left now is to raise the funds for the repairs. 

Asked about the fund raising efforts, Pete Thorn said:

“The land at Holne is a very special place and really important for the whole paddling community, not just those who live locally. People come from all over the country to paddle the Dart, many of whom use this site to get on or off the water. We have no source of income for upkeep, it has always been free and open to people to come and enjoy and we want to keep it that way. Now we need some help to protect the site for the future”.

So far, grants have obtained from Sport England (£5,000 via the Community Asset Fund), RDT reserve funds and also an offer of a loan from the Canoe Foundation. This will not be enough to cover the urgent repairs needed, so paddlers are being asked to dig deep and support this vital work.

British Canoeing Places to Paddle Manager, Ben Seal, who supports all the volunteers who manage British Canoeing sites said:

This is a really important site and one which is of great value to our sport - It also happens to be a really beautiful place! We are extremely proud to be the custodians of this site, on behalf of all those who enjoy and share access to it. Maintaining sites like land at Holne Bridge is a major challenge for British Canoeing and all the amazing volunteers on the ground. I hope paddlers, swimmers and anglers who use the site will donate to the fund so we can undertake the vital repairs needed.

– British Canoeing Places to Paddle Manager, Ben Seal

The link to donate to the fundraising cause can be found here. Donations close on 30th June 2020.