It’s a warm and perfectly still morning in Salcombe. We’re sitting in the cockpit at 8am, drinking our morning coffee and admiring the stunning surrounds. Now, this is what we signed up for! Absolute perfection. We were thinking of leaving today, but now… well, I don’t want to go anywhere.
But first- Dartmouth. We visited Dartmouth last year, and sometimes when you return to a place that you have positive memories of, the second experience doesn’t quite live up to expectations. However, this did. It was a short motor-sail from Brixham- we barely had time for a cup of tea- around the headland, then into the Dart River. Dartmouth on one side, Kingswear on the other and a huge amount of activity on the river between. Last year we came during summer holidays and had to stay on one of the island pontoons, meaning a fairly long dinghy ride to Dartmouth town. This year, we were lucky enough to secure a walk-ashore town pontoon mooring, and we had prime position for people watching. Not for the first time, we were glad of our mirrored windows. We could peer out and curiously watch all the people milling on the pontoon, waiting for the passenger ferry. Out of the starboard windows, we had an excellent view of the quayside, and all the activity taking place there.
On the Friday my friend Kate caught the train down from London, bottle of Prosecco in hand- she’s a good girl. We immediately made a beeline for the pub, where we had beer and burgers to celebrate the beginning of the bank holiday weekend.
Saturday morning, we emerged to warm sunshine. Sitting in the cockpit, in the sunshine, in shorts for the first time this year, drinking coffee and eating our fry-up brekkie, whilst watching the quayside slowly become busier and busier was absolute perfection. Once fed and energised, we all got into the dinghy- miraculously, Kate didn’t fall in the water- and went for a jaunt upriver. The scenery was just gorgeous. Green rolling hills and woodland rose up on either side of the river, dotted with the odd pastel-coloured house or hotel.
Once back, it was 11:55, which only meant one thing: pub.
In the afternoon, we managed to rouse ourselves to go for a walk- well, two of us did. Nick had a nap. Kate and I walked along the river towards its mouth and the castle that stands at its entrance. We had to pay to see the castle, which was just not acceptable, so we spent that money much more sensibly: on a cream tea in a cafe overlooking the English Channel, which was still as a pool and full of sailing boats. Bliss!
Sunday, Kate returned to London, and Nick and I did very little. Monday, we cast off and made our way to Salcombe, a nearby seaside town which had a reputation for being very beautiful and very busy. Well, it certainly lived up to that reputation, and more: as we entered the stunning river, it appeared to be very similar to the approach to Dartmouth. However, as we rounded the bend and Salcombe came into view, the differences became apparent. One was the series of small beaches to our starboard side, all of which were practically overun by beach-goers. The other was the sheer number of people around. This was the busiest waterway we’d ever experienced. Salcombe itself was beautiful- like Brixham and Dartmouth, a hillside of pastel houses and a teeming quayside. However, we weren’t really able to enjoy the view, since we were busy dodging boats at anchor or on mooring buoys, racing boats, dinghies, paddleboarders, jet-skis, ferries… you get the idea.
We finally found the visiting pontoon- about a mile upstream, which was so peaceful and a world away from the madness of Salcombe town- and tied up. It was just so beautiful, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
We had a quick lunch, then jumped in the dinghy and joined the throngs of holiday-makers in Salcombe. We explored the town, which was mainly full of expensive nautical shops, and delis or ice-cream shops, not to mention the hoards of middle-class families enjoying the bank holiday and half-term. The yacht club was our next stop, which had an excellent outside courtyard with a commanding view over the harbour. All the tables were taken, so I milled around outside looking for somewhere to sit while Nick waited for drinks inside. And that’s when I managed to roll my ankle.
It was embarrasingly undramatic. There were two steps leading down to the lower seated area, followed by a little tiny mini- almost microscopic- step. It was only about 2 inches high, if that, and, looking around for a seat, I didn’t see it. To the casual observer- and there were plenty- it looked like I’d simply walked down the steps and then froze in place, bent over, and clutched my ankle, effectively blocking the pathway for everyone else. I’m not sure if a spectacular fall would have been more or less embarrassing. A lovely lady helped me to a low wall, where I sat and tried to appear polite and thankful, while effectively telling her to just leave me alone. Nick walked out of the bar and, beer clutched in each hand, spotted me sitting opposite. Needless to say, he was like, “I leave you alone for five minutes…”
My ankle was quite literally ballooning in size in front of my eyes, and so I sent Nick back into the bar for ice. He came back with a glass of water, and some ice in it. Back in he went, this time for a tea towel. Finally, we got an ice pack sorted, the people on the table next to us cleared off, and I was able to sit with my foot elevated on a chair. We were stuck there while the ice and elevation did its thing, so there was only one thing for it… a beer in the sunshine!