OCA Dart Estuary Trip

On 4/5 September Philip and Laurien drove down to South Devon with Philip's Wenonah for the OCA Dart estuary trip run by Pete Seymour, camping at the Scout hut in Stoke Gabriel. As it was being decorated we couldn't stay in the hut, so we all set up tents or tipis, with one or two people up at the nearby campsite as there are no showers at the Scout hut. Altogether there were about 10 on the trip, including Jax and Terry in their solo canoes.

It was a relaxed weekend, grey with some sunshine and wind. For those who don't know it, the Dart estuary is wide and open between Stoke Gabriel and Dartmouth and we saw egrets and masses of yachts, and bumped into another group of canoeists and kayakers from Ringwood in the New Forest, paddling from Kingswear to Totnes.

All were in open canoes, and Pete Seymour took us downstream to Dittisham both days, straight to a café overlooking the estuary with fabulous chocolate cakes, and a pub over the road. Jax and Terry went on down to Dartmouth, but the rest turned back. As we passed Greenway, Agatha Christie's house high on the hill, the wind across the estuary blew up enough to put up sails, or umbrellas, and we sped along.

We went on up to Bow Creek, towards Tuckenhay, where we came across a couple of twelve-seater canoes run by Canoe Adventures. By this time the tide was very low and it was very muddy getting the boats ashore at Stoke Gabriel. There's a dam across the creek built to create a millpond to power a tidal mill, and this made for acrobatics with the canoes as we struggled to lower them down at low tide.

Good supper at the Church House Inn up the path through the graveyard, though a little creepy coming back in the dark. The decorators had lit a bonfire and it was still burning late into the evening, with log-benches beside it on which to tell old seafaring tales. The church tower has been there since the thirteenth century and there's a yew in the churchyard reputed to be 1,300 years old - if you walk backwards round it three times, your wish will come true.

The weather was pretty ok most of the weekend, though the sun came out best just as the last tent was put in the car on Sunday afternoon. Altogether a lovely, not too strenuous weekend.

- Laurien