31 August – 4 September: Back on the Water and The River Yealm

Friday: We arrived on Idun in Salcombe just after 4pm after a straightforward journey from home.  Took a taxi with all the groceries and had an interesting chat with our driver John about how to survive the slow months; in his case it means school contracts driving children who for different reasons cannot go on the school buses. We found we had new neighbours when we got to our buoy; a very nice couple in a Beneteau 43 who had been cruising along the south coast and in France for six months.   Quite similar circumstances to us, having changed their business to run in winter only, and grown up children living at the house at home.   We had a very quiet evening, and it’s clear we’re getting towards the end of summer, dark falling before 9pm.

Saturday: I woke up hearing cows lowing, not a sound I’m used to hearing either on land or on water.  There will be a bit of wind today, so we’ve decided to move on.  Emma and James won’t be joining us this weekend unfortunately, but they will definitely come another time.  We were dithering as to where to head for, and on our neighbours’ advice we settled for the river Yealm.

Leaving Salcombe

There wasn’t much wind in the end, and swells from the Atlantic, so a slow and quite uncomfortable sail.   We sailed past Bantham famous for surfing, and we thought of our daughter far away.  The highlight of the sail was a brief but wonderful sighting of a pod of three dolphins coming up to Idun!  They just said hello and then went on their way.  I read that dolphin sightings are down 50% here during the last ten years.  A very sad statistic.

We arrived at the Yealm an hour before low tide.   As instructed, we looked for the church, and the leading lines on the hillside, aligning ourselves to avoid the sandbar going across most of the entrance.  It was a bit touch and go with our depth across the narrow channel in Cellar Bay, but we made it around Misery Point and found a lovely visitors buoy, right in the middle of this river paradise.

On our buoy by Misery Point on the river Yealm

The harbour master came along and we had a nice chat about the village, boats and walks.  After supper we pottered in to town to find the cash machine and a pub.  Some friendly locals told us you just keep going, can’t miss it.  This was possibly the smallest Co-op in existence!  And further along the road there was a ‘put money in the pot’ stall with vegetables‘; fresh beetroot for supper tomorrow.

Sunday: What a lovely day!  After paying our dues with the Harbour Master, we tied up the dinghy on a tree and set off on a fantastic walk along the coastal path. Part of this path was apparently created for Queen Victoria, who enjoyed a coach ride along the river.  Our stroll took us through lush woodland, a steep climb up on to the headland above Cellar Bay, walking high up along the coast where we sailed yesterday.  Breathtaking views!  We wandered back along a farm road, saw fields of sunflowers, and enjoyed a steep descent with the loveliest view over The Pool.  We have seen several large marquees on what appears to be empty fields, during our travels and this has intrigued me.  Today I got the answer – wedding venues.  Farmers need to make clever use of their land!

View across Cellar Bay towards Wembury
Not a bad spot for your lunch break
My favourite view of the day – Yealm Pool, Newton Ferrers

It was hard to beat such a morning, but our afternoon’s very calm dinghy ride up river was magical.  We saw a man fishing alongside egrets.  Shoals of little fish.  Swans flying.  Just lovely!  After coffee on the boat and a snooze in the sunshine, we did some more exploring in the dinghy around Cellar Bay and up to Cellar Beach.  I had to jump in the water to beach the dinghy, and the water was so warm.  Almost tempting to take a dip.

Monday:  We had planned to take a long walk this morning, but work and stuff got in the way, as it does.   We did pop over to the village in the afternoon though, and did our version of a pub crawl; The Dolphin on the Newton Ferrers side, then walking across the dried out estuary across the voss, then across another part of the estuary on a second voss followed by the Ship Inn.  We enjoy the simple pleasures of life ha ha!

Waiting to cross the voss, a concrete walkway across the estuary only usable at low tide.

And Dominic had a little play with the drone.  Got some nice photos!

Idun from 350ft
Our entire boat home
Birgitta reading in the sunshine
Cellar Bay, looking over the Great Mewstone and the sea
The river Yealm and Newton Ferrers
Wembury and river Yealm, looking north

Tuesday: Another great walking day!  We took the water ferry across to the Wembury side of the river (you call the ferryman by turning a wooden board so it shows white!) and had the most fantastic walk high up along the river, over to the sea, and along to Wembury beach where you get a very good view of the Great Mewstone, a landmark with an interesting history: The Great Mewstone.

There’s an old mill by the beach that used the river down the slope for its power.  The millhouse is now a cafe with the millstones as tables.  After a very tasty vegan pasty we visited the church and walked back through the village, and after a short detour and a discussion with a helpful local bloke, we found the path we were looking for.  Our walk back was over fields with almost overwhelming views, down through woodland, ending up along the northern end of the river, before heading back to the clapboard to call the ferry.  4 hours of lovely walking, eating and thoroughly enjoyable Devon countryside!

Wembury beach with the Great Mewstone in view
Fantastic walls made from local stone.
Newton Ferrers seen from the fields above Clitters Wood, near Wembury

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