Torridge Boat Trip

Up the Torridge today on The Cheeky Monkey , from Appledore to Weare Giffard. A cold Sunday afternoon, with sunshine breaking through the cloud. It was a fabulous trip, another world, a completely different view of home surroundings, as the vibrant history of boats and shipyards was laid out before us.
leaving Appledore

leaving Appledore

abandoned fishing vessel at Northam

abandoned fishing vessel at Northam

- Norwegian icebreaker and Thames tug (it has 3 rudders for manoeuvrability).

- Norwegian icebreaker and Thames tug (it has 3 rudders for manoeuvrability).

fishing boat at Bideford - catching whelks

fishing boat at Bideford - catching whelks

The Old Bridge - Bideford

The Old Bridge - Bideford

As we passed under the old stone bridge at Bideford, with its oddly sized arches where the starlings roost, I could not help but think of Henry Williamson’s ‘Tarka the Otter’. The book made such an impact on me in my youth, that the bridge was significant many years before I ever saw it.

flight over the Torridge

flight over the Torridge

further up. The woods have always been here, as the steep sides of the valleys were too steep to plough.

Further up. The woods have always been here, as the steep sides of the valleys were too steep to plough.

It grew quieter as we sailed onwards between densely-wooded hills, sending flurries of birds rising from trees and undergrowth. Birds everywhere: redshanks, oyster catchers, buzzards, egrets, kingfisher, swans, curlew… We passed old lime kilns and the entrance to a disused canal half hidden amongst the reeds. Idyllic cottages with little boats moored alongside, were clustered along the banks in clearings. Once or twice we came across people fishing, and exchanged cheery greetings. And from time to time, under the trees, I saw the entrance to a secret stream, or a steep track climbing up into the darkness of the woods.

mysterious reflections, shadows and half-hidden hollows along the riverbank gave me a sense of being watched by hundreds of little eyes..

mysterious reflections, shadows and half-hidden hollows along the riverbank gave me a sense of being watched by hundreds of little eyes..

Now I was feeling like Wind in the Willows! Obviously this leisurely progress up the river had sent me back into a magical era that only existed in my imagination. Or has it always been here, unseen?

spectators (malllards)

spectators (malllards)

one of the many old lime kilns in the area - used for fertiliser, wall wash and mortar.

one of the many old lime kilns in the area - used for fertiliser, wall wash and mortar.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

the Toll Bridge at Weir Gifford
the Toll Bridge at Weare Giffard

Although it was coming up to high tide, after days of heavy rain, the weight of fresh water was still running down, swelling the river and slowing our progress.  The return journey was much faster.

About throughstones

I am primarily a visual artist, living on the North Devon coast, a beautiful semi-rural area in South West England. I am interested in full engagement with 'place' and the eternal movement of life - particularly as it relates to what we call 'the natural environment'.
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