The River Avon Estuary.

The lower reaches

 

The River Avon (originally  River Aune) starts it 21 mile journey to the sea on the lower slopes of Dartmoor National Park in South Devon. It’s a wonderful river that cuts its way through some truly beautiful countryside before entering the sea near Bantham on its eastern shoreline and Bigbury on its west bank. I’ve already posted a blog that looks at the rivers early stages on Dartmoor. (Click here to view  the gallery).This post will focus on the rivers lower reaches from Aveton Gifford to the coast.

High tide near the village of Aveton Gifford

The river is tidal to this point. Along the west bank of the river is a tidal road that gets totally flooded and impassable twice a day at high tides. It was at this point that I started my early morning photo shoot. This part of the river is beautiful at all times of the day but changes its character depending on the tide.

Boats at anchor.

I arrived here at about 4 a.m. It definitely wasn’t easy getting out of bed in the dark at 3 a.m but was really worth the effort. The early morning light can have a very unique quality. On this particular day and time it had a soft and pinkish quality that was simply wonderful.

The tidal road
Guide poles

The tide was on the turn as I arrived making it impossible to walk the tidal road. It’s amazing though to witness just how fast the water recedes. It was so quiet and peaceful with the only sounds coming from the many and varied birdlife. Just before the road becomes non tidal it crosses a small tributary. The roadway is marked out by tall wooden poles that are sunk deep into the ground. They act as a guide to prevent vehicles driving into the river. This looks fantastic at high and low tides.

 

The guide poles and road.
The tributary

The rivers course takes it through South Brent, then Avonwick before skirting Loddiswell moving south mostly then onto Aveton Gifford before entering the sea near Bantham and Bigbury. The landscape is wonderful and varied often with the backdrop of the moor in the distance.

The river cuts through this amazing landscape.
The village of Malborough

My original plan was to follow the public footpath all the way along the western side of the river until I reached Bigbury beach but having covered the first mile or so (mostly uphill) I decided against this. I made a mental note to lose 3 or 4 stone and get fit.

Not far from the coast

As the river gets nearer to the sea it becomes broader and takes on  a majestic quality as it twists and turns. I’d studied an OS map that had shown there was access to what looked like a beautiful area opposite the village of Bantham. It would be quite difficult to get to (in fact my first attempt failed miserably) but it looked like it’d be worthwhile. The difficulty in getting to this part of the river meant that very few people went there and those that did generally went by boat. On my second attempt a few weeks later I succeeded, it was early evening and the light was fab.

Bentham

Just before the final sweeping turn in the river the landscape opens up. The river becomes its widest and the terrain becomes broad and sandy above the tideline and full of flat greyish pebbles below the rivers edge. When I arrived at this point I noticed a few groups of youngsters who’d managed to cross the river. A few had made a small fire and were in a circle chatting.

Camp fire
At the edge of the river
Jumping in

The coastline surrounding the mouth of the river is equally wonderful. Its great for water sports and there’s loads of great places to eat and drink. It’s a place I know I’m going to visit again (and again) maybe next time in the middle of winter.

Shale beach
Warning sign
Where the river meets the shore
The boathouse
The final bend in the river
On the beach
Looking west from Bantham

To visit the gallery please click here.

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