And this is exactly what I did… for five days in October, when I visited Dartmouth, Devon. A tourist destination on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart (I didn’t actually need my passport).
I spent the first three months of 2013 travelling Australia and New Zealand but on my return trading in the experience for a 9 to 5 job. Despite this, I still have a love for travelling regularly, and firmly believe it is possible to find opportunities, gain new experiences and ‘find yourself’ without jumping on a plane and travelling the world.
This is probably why I ‘found myself’ in a kayak on a mild Tuesday morning on the River Dart, with a guy called Tim…
Tim is an instructor at The Dartmouth Yacht Club; he is a volunteer and extremely passionate about kayaking and the Dartmouth area.
Tim grew up in Dartmouth and even took the local stream train to school in nearby Paignton. The Dartmouth Steam Railway still runs now from Kingswear (opposite Dartmouth) to Paignton. It runs every day between April and October with additional low season running in February, March and November.
Tim’s knowledge of the local area is fantastic and during the three hour lesson, we explored the tremendous views around the River Dart and even saw a local Dartmouth seal.
The session cost £25 per person and all equipment is included including wetsuits, with the money donated to the Dartmouth Yacht Club.
Tim emails all pictures to you after the trip, which makes the experience even more memorable, especially when he encourages you to jump off the (extremely high) harbour wall into the River Dart.
Now I like a challenge, and despite the (extremely high) height, I jumped. I trusted Tim and the thrill was fantastic. I even did it again. (I trusted Tim, but wanted to give him two chances to get a decent photo)…
Dartmouth is not just about kayaking; it’s also full of boats, and pubs – an absolutely fantastic combination in my opinion.
During the five days, I was on a boat every day, some days more than one. And I was also definitely in a pub every day, (some days more than five…)
One memorable boat trip was a trip from Dartmouth to Dittisham, two miles upstream from Dartmouth to visit Greenway, the historic holiday home of the author Agatha Christie and her family.
It was a fantastic experience taking a twin decked passenger ferry river cruise up to the famous house, and on our return Dartmouth, we visited the on board bar to enjoy drinks on the deck. With the sun shining, and an empty boat, it was a beautiful experience. (Similar to the time I visited Australia and explored the Whitsundays via boat, sadly I was extremely seasick that time…)
Dartmouth’s rich history also (luckily) extends to a number of historical pubs to explore and meet new people. One pub steeped in history, and serves great pints and allows dogs, is the Cherub Inn. The14th-century pub, located on the Higher Street, is the oldest building in Dartmouth and still has many of its original features, (including a very narrow staircase that makes going upstairs a decent challenge after a few pints). The pub still has some of the old ships’ timbers, and its original use is thought to have been as a Merchant’s House.
Dartmouth also has a beautiful high-street, impressive Naval College and 14th-century castle.
Personally, I would recommend visiting Dartmouth during the off-season, the place is beautiful to explore with so much to do but can be packed full of tourists during the summer, especially during Regatta week (the last three days at the end of August).
It is possible to turn your life to travel and escape the every day within a yearly holiday allowance; who needs the sunny beaches, when you have the beautiful River Dart to explore…
For more information on Dartmouth visit: www.discoverdartmouth.com