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Seasonal area

September 2014

Current Seasonal Area is here

The River Taw, which flows across Devon from Dartmoor to its shared estuary with the Torridge on the north coast of the county near Bideford, is perhaps best known - or at least, in a not overly pretentious way, hopes to be best known - for featuring as the river in the classic children's novel Tarka the Otter. Unfortunately, in a spirit of Missing Out this author has never read Tarka the Otter and so cannot comment upon it.

The Taw has a peculiar tendency to pass through or near places called Tawton, including South Tawton, North Tawton and Bishop's Tawton. It also encounters three rivers called Yeo - one near the mouth at Barnstaple, one near the source at Lapford and one in the middle which technically the Taw only drains rather than encounters since said Yeo has already converged with the River Mole some distance upstream.

Being a Devonian river, it is a long, sweeping affair, flowing steadily through fields and wide valleys and populated by trout and salmon. (Unlike Cornish rivers, which with the exception of the Tamar begin life as moorland streams, evolve into streams in deep valleys, very occasionally become shallow rivers in deep valleys and then form large tidal estuaries that occasionally go on for miles without ever really having a classic central river at all.)

All of this is worth observing upon, since at the point in the Taw's existence shown in the photo it is merely a decorative stream, fresh off Dartmoor, three miles from Okehampton and tumbling through a glade in a wooded valley called the Belstone Cleave. Belstone is at the top of this mile-long valley, which cleaves its way through the north-eastern flanks of Dartmoor. At the bottom end is the delightful little village of Sticklepath.

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Last modified 04/09/2014

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