Until the 20th century, most goods and people travelled around South Devon by water, it's a lot easier than the winding narrow lanes! Now the rivers and creeks offer miles of quiet waterways from where you will have the very best views of the countryside wildlife and waterside villages and access to some of the most picturesque country pubs.
With no engines to create noise and pollution, it's easy to spot birds, seals and other wildlife, undisturbed by our presence. Explore under your own power and you'll feel a sense of wonder and achievement, feel refreshed and gently exercised, and know that you've left only ripples as a result of your trip.
Probably one of the most enjoyable four or five hours to be spent on the river Dart, Canoe Adventures offers a unique and stunning way to see the estuary which is considered to be one of the most beautiful navigable rivers in the country. A favourite starting point for Canoe Adventures trips is the sheltered waters of Bow Ceek at Tuckenhay, or Longmarsh Slip in Totnes. Further "ports of call" included Dittisham, Stoke Gabriel and Dartmouth. Many other stopping points are available such as Ham Point, Hackney Creek and Langham Spit, these being only accessible from the water.
Along the way there are stunning views of the rolling South Devon countryside and spectacular steep wooded slopes which look like they have been the inspiration for the Tolkien books! Keep an eye and an ear out at all times, as the plethora of wildlife to be seen is truly amazing.
In Bow Creek at the starting point, you will no doubt see a number of inhabitants, look out for the little egrets which are small heron-like birds that are pure white. They stand in the shallows and on the mudflats searching for invertebrates as the tide rises. These birds have become a common sight, but only over the last fifteen years since they migrated from their traditional ranges in Europe and Africa. There are also plenty of mallards and often a pair of mute swans which through the summer months may have cygnets accompanying them (if they have had a successful breeding season).
Look out also for coots and moorhens which have similiar habits to one another. In the past moorhens have tried to nest in one of the moored canoes! Shelduck are a common sight too, particularly in Spring when you will see them in pairs herding their ducklings, which look like striped humbug sweets.[img:02 align=float_right]
Notes taken from 'Wildlife Wonders' - Discovering the wildlife of the South Hams, published by South Hams District Council. (This is an Adobe Acrobat PDF document, for which you will need the free Acrobat Viewer).