It’s really important not to have your plans for a pleasant morning’s paddle messed up by a pumped-up storm called Diana, with its promise of sixty mph winds and an inch of rain.
However down by the Tamar it certainly was weather for ducks. I wasn’t expecting to see anything resembling another human.
And oh yes did it rain:
But at least it was warm, and down in the bottom of the valley it wasn’t as blowy as I had expected.
The incoming tide wasn’t a match for the outgoing flow of the swollen river Tamar so it was quite a challenge to sneak up close to the banks and creep about amongst the branches to avoid the adverse current. One of the advantages of being in ‘Puffing Pig’ my inflatable kayak is that it is extremely manoeuvrable compared to my sea kayak that has the turning circle of a supertanker.
As usual a drab day was enlivened by the wildlife. It was great to see a couple of tiny Little Grebes (aka Dabchicks) in the river… they are regular winter visitors to the Devon coast but I can’t recall the last time I saw one here.
A Dipper zipped over my head before I got to Morwellham, no doubt in search of one of the clear rushing streams flowing down the hillsides because the main river was completely brown. Dippers love clear water and rocky streams and are not at all happy with mud.
I just managed to stick my nose around the corner at Morwell rocks before my forward speed exactly matched the current moving the other way. So turned about and drifted down the river in complete silence, supping a cup of coffee, at three mph.
I nearly leapt out of my drysuit when there was a loud snort about two foot behind me. I cranked (and cricked) my neck around to see that I was being eyeballed by a medium-sized seal.
It shadowed me for a mile as I drifted on down, and when it popped up in front of me after a long dive I saw the flash of a fish in its mouth.
It wasn’t a piffling little fish…it was a decent-sized salmon (distinguishable from a sea trout by its slightly forked, not square-ended, tail).
Somehow the seal managed to peel off the skin like taking off a glove, in about a minute. Slicker than any fishmonger.
And then it really enjoyed the tasty-looking pink flesh that made my breakfast of muesli mixed with Jordan’s country crisp (with dried raspberries) look a bit amateurish.
The next surprising encounter was with one of the police launches that protect the naval ships at Devonport (15 miles) downstream. ‘Which way to Plymouth?’ , one of the officers joked.
Absolutely superb, I hadn’t expected to see anything today apart from wind and rain.