Swimming in the river
The farm has frontage on to Kingsmill Lake which is a tidal estuary just off the River Tamar a few hundred metres inland from the English Channel of the Atlantic Ocean. This offers the opportunity for wild swimming and other water activities during your stay.
Before taking to the water, it is sensible to understand the risks involved with wild swimming – there is a good summary about this here.
It is tidal salt water here at the farm – this means the sea water comes into the shore line and retreats far out to the centre of the river twice each day. The times of ‘high tide’ (when the water is up to the farm’s sea wall) and ‘low tide’ (when the water rolls back out to sea exposing the mud flats) go forwards by just over an hour each day.
To find out the current tide times, google ‘tide times Cargreen’ (e.g. devon-tides.com/cargreen-tide-times). Alternatively there are a number of free apps for smart phones that tell the tide times.
At low tide (and a few hours either side of low tide), the mud flats are exposed, and the numerous ground wading birds can normally be seen (obviously this is dependent on the time of year and the birds migratory patterns!). Snipe, curlew, heron, greenshank, redshank, avocet, oystercatcher, geese and ducks are common sightings.
At and around low tide it is possible to do a circular walk down the track on one side of the marsh to the cow barn, along the farm’s river frontage at the bottom of the sea wall and back along the footpath on the other side of the marsh.
The river frontage part of this walk is normally a bit wet and slippery from the seaweed. Wellies or walking boots are advised. At one point along the river frontage you need to go along the top of the sea wall gate. It’s the hole in the sea wall that allows water in and out with the tides to flood the Salt Marsh Nature Reserve. You need to take care here.
At high tide (and a few hours either side of high tide), it is possible to swim, SUP, kayak or just paddle. This is at your own risk and using your own equipment (although SUP and kayak hire is possible from Mel at Mai Adventures – she can also take you out on SUPs from the farm’s quay for a lesson from absolute beginners to more advanced adventures).
The gradient of the riverbed is not particularly steep here which is fun for the less confident swimmer and children. You may appreciate wearing wetsuit boots / neoprene shoes as the beach is shingle and also we get some holly leaves on the river bed (which when stood on by the unsuspecting can feel like a jellyfish sting!). Alternatively securely fitted sandals or even Crocs and trainers are also options.
During the warmer months the water isn’t particularly cold. Remember this is the UK, so warm couldn’t be used to describe it either! In colder months a wetsuit definitely makes the experience less of a shock though.
From the path which goes past the cow barn, turning left as you reach the river. A few yards walk takes you to our small private shingle beach area. This normally (subject to big tides and storms removing it!) has a large log for sitting on. It’s great for watching others in your group muck around in the water.
It is also a good place for a picnic or a sundowner.