British Canoeing has had to take the unfortunate decision of temporarily restricting access to its site on the banks of the River Dart near Holne Bridge.
In recent weeks, misuse of the land by members of the public has affected neighbours and caused damage to the site. Reports of glass in the river, bbq’s, fires and people using our land and neighbouring fields as a toilet has resulted in this unfortunate decision being taken sooner than anticipated.
Access to the land at Holne was due to be restricted this summer while bank repair works were to be carried out. Winter flooding has caused damage around the weir which is in need of urgent attention. Donations to undertake this work have been coming in from all over the South West Region. However, recent events following the lifting of lockdown restrictions has meant that temporary fencing has had to be erected sooner than planned.
Having been acquired in 1991, the thin strip of woodland at Holne Bridge has been maintained by British Canoeing as an important access point to the River Dart. In recent years, British Canoeing has been happy to see wild swimmers sharing the waters alongside the paddlers and anglers.
However, with recent warm weather the British Canoeing owned land on the Dart has been subjected to some entirely unacceptable behaviour by a minority. This behaviour has been widely reported across the media across many popular beauty spots, beaches and in National Parks.
On Wednesday, June 10th, local volunteers who look after the site on behalf of British Canoeing erected fencing and installed a temporary combination lock to the entrance. It is planned that this be a short term measure to prevent any further misuse and allow the site itself to recover while bank repair work is carried out.
Access for paddlers launching or landing can still be arranged by contacting [email protected]. Efforts are being made to contact local swimmers who use the site respectfully and responsibly so that their activity can also continue.
British Canoeing continues to champion the case for fair, shared and sustainable open access on all our waters in England through the Clear Access, Clear Waters Campaign. The paddling community has respectfully and responsibly used the land at Holne Bridge for decades and British Canoeing is committed to restoring open access to the water at Holne Bridge as early as is possible. For now, the organisation has a responsibility to prevent any further damage to our site, to protect the environment and to also act in the best interests of our neighbours and the local community.
We hope that all those who use our site on the River Dart responsibly will understand why we have taken these temporary steps. We will be working closely with local groups and paddlers in the South West to find ways of best managing the situation in future.