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Swing Bridge to Topsham

Tuesday, Mrs W’s day off – so we drop ‘the lad’ off at school and slip away for a little ‘backyard adventure’. Canoeing down the Exe Estuary. We pop the canoe in at the Exeter’s Swing Bridge. Ours is an Old Town Charles River, which is graceful and easy to paddle, but a little heavy.
The tide is still coming in, so we are paddling against the flow – but it doesn’t really matter.
The sun is out, no wind and we do not have a care in the world. We are not making much noise, but still, the elegant Egrets and Herons take off when we draw near. I remember, several years ago now, when I first saw an Egret on the Exe Estuary. How excited I was. That was when I used to pass on the train, heading down to Cornwall. There are many here now but they are still a pleasure to see. Today there are also a lot of fish jumping near the surface. Many head our way with their heads and a fin on the surface – mouths open, then diving as they spot us at the last minute.

We glide past all the moored boats at Topsham.
Close to the end of the ‘Goat Walk’ (southern end of Topsham) we pull up on a little secluded beach for our lunch. The sun is baking hot, so a long drink is in order. We could get close to here by car in a few minutes, from home but coming the way we have it seems like a different world. Resting on a deserted beach.

Featured sketch above:

Down the Exe

Watercolour ~ a little over A4
Looking down the Exe Estuary from our lunch stop. Blue washes, I’m trying to capture the intensity of the light. Dawlish Warren on the horizon with boats moored in the distance. Our canoe pulled up in the foreground.

Materials Used

Just a few things here, I’ve used a Daler Rowney, Langton 14 x 10”, ‘Not’ watercolour pad. My Winsor & Newton, watercolour field paint box, with a couple of round brushes – sable no.6 & a no.1 & a 6B pencil.

Nick Watton sketching in the sun on a beach.
Sketching in the sun on the little beach.


Heading back the way we have come, the tide is now in and the river flows as normal. So we’re still going against the flow!
We only went a little way down the River Exe, but it seemed like a world away.

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