Across the Estuary
Had to get my sea legs on the other morning, well to be correct, my estuary legs. Goodness what a beautiful morning it was, brilliant sunshine a light breeze and the clear aquamarine waters of the river Torridge sparking against the golden, sun drenched stone of Appledore Quay.
I had arrived there, with my faithful friend Gypsy – yes Appledore is very dog friendly- to meet the Skipper of the historic ferry, which whisks you across the river to the sandy shores of Instow. We had agreed to meet at 9.30 am, on a Saturday morning, which is usually quiet – late sleepers in Appledore, – not this morning though, there was a queue of passengers waiting for the first ferry trip of the day, across the water to Instow. During the season, April to October the ferry only operates between the hours of 09.30 and 21.00hrs, running for two hours either side of high tide, dependant on the type of tide and weather conditions. Boarding the boat, – Gypsy most enthusiastically, – we glided across the water, passed a flotilla of sailing boats, white sails flapping in the breeze and headed towards the quay at Instow.
For centuries there has always been a boat crossing between Appledore and Instow . With the development of Appledore and the arrival of the railway in Instow a ferry became an important means of transport for workers, cargo and holiday makers alike.
Find out more about about the fascinating history of this crossing click the link above.
In 2007, due to a withdrawal of a grant and lack of support, the commercial ferry ceased to operate and the boats sold off. However, after public meetings being held in Appledore and Instow between 2009/10 uncovered a feeling of general disappointment. The public concern at the lack of a ferry, led to a group of determined individuals to start a working group. Toiling extremely hard in a period of recession they managed to obtain the necessary funding and licences to reinstate the ferry and test its popularity & viability. On the 25 June 2011, with great trepidation, the ferry was, once again launched into service. During this first season, which ended in September 2011 the ferry carried 8,400 passengers, which proved its success.
Martin Foot has been one of the skippers of the Appledore-Instow ferry for some eight seasons. The ferry is a Non-profit organisation run mostly by volunteers. although the skippers, because of their acquisition of licences and responsibilities are paid. As we set off on our short voyage, it became apparent, because of the number of passengers, Martin would not have time to talk to me. In fact when we got to Instow, Gypsy and I had to disembark! as there were a number of passengers and dogs waiting to board. Still, no matter, it was no hardship for me. I was quite happy being ferried across the river, between Appledore and Instow all day. As well as the skipper three volunteers are required for the crossing, one based on each quay, assisting prospective passengers and another accompanying the Skipper, helping with the mooring ropes at each side. In fact he had to move me on one occasion to level the weight distribution ??
The Appledore – Intow ferry is a great asset to both villages, giving both locals and holiday makers a great deal of pleasure, boosting the local economy and keeping the heritage of the river Torridge alive. Its really enthusing to see how the community spirit has come together, working hard to ensure the service was re-established and continues to thrive. From this “blow in” Thank you all.
To find out more about the ferry and its history visit their : website