Dittisham je t’aime!

The Ferry Boat Inn and its park-at-your-own-risk parking lot…

Some places just seem like Happy Places, and that’s how I felt about Dittisham. It felt like a happy trip to the lake back in Austin, with grown ups, kids and dogs crowding the pier and pub, crabbing, drinking beer, throwing sticks to wet doggies… Nothing fancy, lots of smiling and friendly faces.

But first, the boating stuff! We motored the short distance up the river from Dartmouth and once in Dittisham, we put ourselves on a mooring. The wind was seriously kicking up, and the current was strong. However, the harbour patrol asked us to move to another buoy, where we had to tether up to another boat belonging to a very nice sailing couple from the UK. The wind did not let up all afternoon, and we were already getting a little nervous about the prospect of having to ferry our guests from shore to Opsimath in our little tender.

We were right to worry. Peter’s old friend Nigel is a very big man, and not in the best of shape. Peter went into Dittisham in the dinghy to get them, and delivered Ella first with no problem before heading back for Nigel. Unfortunately, poor Nigel veritably fell into the dinghy, and by the time they made it to the boat, none was sure he’d be able to get out of the tender and onboard Opsimath. Though we had not planned it that way, in the end, they stayed the night. We had a delicious dinner on deck, as well. However, the experience lead me to 2 conclusions about inviting people on board.

Tips: 1. Water taxis are not expensive and generally available in any port, large or small. Don’t take any risks with a small tender (poor weather conditions, strong currents, too many people or people who are not physically adapted…)! Call the water taxi, spend a few bucks, and play it safe. 2. We ate dinner in the cockpit, and after wine, catching up with old friends was very noisy. We should have eaten inside, or gone inside early, as we greatly disturbed the nice people next door.

This photo looks out from the Ferry Boat inn, at the bottom of the hill at Dittisham. This is the busy peer where everyone and their dog hangs out on summer days. We were moored to the right of where this photo was taken, up the river a ways.
There are only two public places at the bottom of the hill in Dittisham: The Ferry Boat Inn, and The Anchorstone Cafe which looks like a very good seafood restaurant.

If you walk up the hill, and up and up, eventually you’ll wind your way around to a second pub, which is also the Post Office and a grocery store,. It’s small, but very well-stocked!

St George's Dittisham.jpg

Next to that is St George’s Church. Now I really love old churchyards, and we always enjoy poking around old churches, and this one is very pretty. Peter spent quite a while looking at the parishioners’ photo album, that tells the stories of local residents and church supporters. I looked through several brochures and learned about an association called ITF Seafarers which helps crew members from abandoned vessels find their way home. It’s not something I’d ever even thought of, but there are a lot of shipping boats abandoned out at sea, and often, crews get left behind, for months and even years…

On the other side of the Dart from Dittisham, is Agatha Christies gorgeous summer family home and gardens! Greenway is National Trust property, and it is beautifully maintained.

I would have LOVED to see the inside of the house, which looks to be decorated in the best of taste with refined English furnishings. However, we were too late; because family still lives in the house, they close down for visits at 5pm.

However, we did have a delicious cream tea at the small café, and then we visited the gardens.

We searched around to find this: it’s the Christie family’s pet cemetery, where beloved members of the household were laid to rest on a little crest in a shady, fern-covered part of the garden.

The grounds are extensive, with orchards, herb and flower gardens, water features, and large walled gardens. Agatha Christie used one of these parcels for the local school, so that kids could come and work on developing their green thumbs. She was very attached to Dittisham and local residents.

The entire time we were here, the days were punctuated by the hourly passing of the Dartmouth Steam Railway which stops at Greenway. Part of a larger network of steam trains in the past, the vintage train still brings tourists to visit this pittoresque and idyllic part of the UK. (Peter, we need your footage of the train!).

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