Despite the fact that everyone who has ever been there will instantly recognize it, I’m not going to name this particular cove. Half the fun of these places is in the seeking out of little clefts and nooks that provide shelter and safe anchoring for someone prepared to study the charts. A degree of solitude in the most incredible surroundings can still be had by those of us happy to do the job diligently and for that diligence the prize is not being crowded or deafened by hoards of fast water craft directed there by the likes of a guidebook or indeed this website.
The south west has the perfect piece of coastline for a bit of adventurous over-nighting, having headlands, river estuaries and deep coves in abundance to provide shelter from most directions. I do now have to be a little more careful about depths, rocks and tides than I was with Macavity due to Idris being long keeled and reluctant to stand up on her own, but it’s still a doddle with a large scale chart and a weather forecast. I’m relatively new to all this sail cruising lark though and am inclined to ‘er on the side of caution, a weekend in a coastal anchorage will only happen if it coincides with good weather and the correct wind direction.
So it was on the 16th of July. Good sunny forecast with light winds from the south west, perfect. I got down to Idris early on Saturday morning in order to scrub the seagull crap off of everything and get organized (engine check, bail out bilge, fill flask, tidy up ropes,etc) before setting off. I thought I had a good idea of what to expect when I got there after studying the charts and looking at an old guide and was excited about living a weekend on a sunny beach with my boat. The previous trip down to Dartmouth with Bob had proved just how comfortable a home Idris could be and I wasn’t even going to need the charcoal stove this time. A very slow drift along the coast in a light breeze made for an extremely enjoyable day. No timetable, no stress and the same tack all the way apart from the odd time I wanted to take a closer look at something, I couldn’t be more contented. I had plenty of brewing up time and the tea did floweth to accompany the various tasty sausagey, cheesey, olivey meals I was knocking up along the way.
Yes, I thought I knew what to expect of the place. I was wrong, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer beauty of this cove when I eventually got there. Steep wooded banks on one side, jagged twisted rocks on the other with a deep set, sandy beach for landing, swimming and sunbathing. All this and not a soul about, I dropped anchor in 3m of water under the cliffs and rowed ashore to explore. There was a disused section of the beach with a derelict footpath up the cliffs and then a more readily accessible side with a well maintained concrete path. I chose the easy path as it was nearing dusk and hiked up to the top to get some photos. Owls were screeching among the trees and a furtive fox was rather surprised to have to share his highway at such an hour. It was dark by the time I rowed back over to Idris, sleep came very easily in such peaceful surroundings.
The temptation to dive in and have a dawn swim around the bay proved too great for me and it wasn’t until the first holiday makers appeared on the beach a couple of hours later that I actually felt the need to put some clothes on. I was nicely warmed and dried by the July sun so decided on a little dinghy trip around the broken cliff line, trying in vain to film the flamboyant holidaying jellyfish as I passed over them. An unexpected phone call from Bob on his way back up from Plymouth resulted in his turning up for lunch before we both made our way back to the Exe again. For myself a round trip of no more than 25 miles but my enjoyment of the place was far out of proportion to the effort of getting there. Small adventures can often be the best type I think.