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Heading upstream

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

The principal port on most West Country rivers was not something-mouth but the head of the tidal navigable river. Thus, Truro not Falmouth, Totnes not Dartmouth, Exeter not Exmouth, Kingsbridge not Salcombe (no actual river here so no ----mouth). There was a simple reason for this, the catchment of these inland ports was much greater than a coastal harbour. Plymouth is a bit of an exception but that was home to the Navy who had to stay afloat though much commercial loading of copper and agricultural cargoes was done at smaller wharfs up river such as Cargreen and Cotehele.


Snark is a sea going sailing barge and is particularly well suited to cruising these river and estuary. In celebration of this heritage we have decided this season to explore all of these wonderful rivers and their historic ports. The first of these is Totnes.


Passing Duncannon on the Dart


As mentioned in my last blog the last commercial Thames barge to unload there was probably the Will Everard delivering a cargo of Norfolk thatching reed in around 1965. We have been here a number of times and it has good drying berths and excellent rail connections as well as being a particularly pretty and enlightened place. So our second voyage will take us from Totnes down the enchanted Dart River and around to Brixham were we will join in with the Heritage sailing festival, possible doing some low stress ‘racing’ and certainly attend the onshore festivities. Then back around to Dartmouth and up the Dart again to disembark in Totnes.


Long Reach approaching Totnes


In future voyages we are visiting Truro, Cotehele and Kingsbridge, and at the end of the season we are planning to head up to Topsham and take the Exeter Ship Canal all the way into the heart of the City of Exeter, but more on that in future blogs.


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