On our first day we paddled in wembury bay which is very pretty with a striking looking rock called the great Mew stone about a mile off shore. The winds were light and most of the party paddled out to the stone at the end of the paddle. It is a bird sanctuary with lots of cormorants or shags (we weren’t entirely sure which). There was a nice little stone hut there, which perhaps had been inhabited by some brave hermit once upon a time. A massive seal spotted us as we circumnavigated the island. We were able to finish off our visit to the bay with the first of many local ice creams from the cafe next to the big national trust car park above the beach where we had left our cars. But left enough space for one of Naomi’s famously tasty curries.
Day two was chosen as our non paddling day, due to an unpromising weather forecast, and, while Fi and mark headed towards Salcombe, the majority held a discussion about the fate of the boatshed in chiswick before heading to Plymouth to do the tourist thing. We walked along the hoe and past the old smeaton lighthouse and the beautiful grade II listed Tinside lido. There is a big naval base at Plymouth, but the most notable ship we spotted was the EU fishing control vessel. We finished a visit with cocktails in the Plymouth gin distillery, which was a lovely bar full of character.
On day three we returned to Plymouth Sound in our kayaks. We launched from bovisand bay to get there more quickly. It involved a long carry downhill with our boats, but the paddle was fascinating once it began. We were able to see the sights on the hoe we had explored on foot the previous day before crossing to mount edgcumbe in Cornwall where we ate lunch, read the blurb about what TE Lawrence did after Arabia and peered at the bee hives before enjoying another ice cream. Afterwards we paddled out to the massive breakwater and the sinister looking Martello tower. The sea conditions were again favourable, so most of our group paddled past bovisand and back to Wembury, for a spot of rescue practice before finishing what was a long day. Our thanks go to our two ‘shuttle bunnies’ for facilitating the final bit of paddling!
Day four saw us head to Bigbury bay. We launched at the beach car park near the golf club at Thurlestone and headed north west to burgh island. This is the site of an exclusive Art Deco hotel, but it is possible for the great unwashed to visit – by the high tractor or (at low tide) on foot or, like us, by kayak. We ate our packed lunches outside the (closed) pub and pottered up the hill for photos. Almost circumnavigating the island was fun, because there were plenty of rocks to paddle between and again the sea was calm so we were able to get right in close. On returning to thurlestone, mark and dan chose to return by car to the farmhouse to watch England win a famous victory against Germany in the euros while others continued their paddling with a visit to Hope. This involved passing a very attractive rock arch. The day finished with a quick trip to Plymouth to buy some take away fish and chips from harbourside (recommenced).
On day five for variety we switched to paddling a ria. We launched from the public slip at kingsbridge which looked like a prosperous town and after Matt and mark and Fi had run a shuttle we joined lots of paddle boarders heading south with the ebb tide. It wasn’t terribly easy to spot frogmore creek which we had identified as a good way of adding a bit of length to the trip. It was worth searching for though and we had it more or less to ourselves. Salcombe was much busier of course when we reached it, but it has a nice beach which tourists reach via a ferry and a good cafe selling ice cream. Our paddle ended at north sands beach. In the evening we enjoyed a delicious meal out at the odd wheel pub in Wembury.
Our final paddle began at Wembury and involved paddling up the Yealm ria before we returned to the mewstone. The yealm is generally narrower than the kingsbridge and has more trees along it, so is probably prettier. There is also less boat traffic. We spotted egrets, a breed of bird which tends to find the most attractive locations. We had time for several of us to pull up our boats for a coffee at a cafe at Noss Mayo while the rest of our party explored newton creek and later we had lunch on a quiet beach accessible only to boaters. Our trip finished with a pleasant swim from Wembury beach (minus boats).
I would like to thank everyone for making it such a successful and enjoyable holiday. Particular thanks go to fiona R, sarah, rob and stephen for coming up with plans for paddles, Fiona M and Naomi for writing recipes and cooking and Mark and Matt for driving.
Some photos can be found here