canoeing on the carrick roads

When it’s warm and sunny in Cornwall there are other places to be rather than the beach. The calm, quiet rivers of the Carrick Roads offer a secret retreat, away from the crowds and hoards.

A few years ago the man got rather itchy about living surrounded by water but not getting ‘out on it’. So he built a little boat. One made from plywood and painted green. It’s small, the size of a Canadian canoe, but with a flat back so we can fit a motor on it. And we named it ‘The Black Dog’, so whilst we don’t take the black dog out on it (the experience is hair raising to say the least), I figure as his namesake it deserves a spot on the blog.

Over the past few years Sunny Corner has been our launch place of choice for canoeing on the Carrick Roads, it’s a little corner of Truro with a public slipway on the road to Malpas – it’s quiet there, a sunny, calm backwater. But it’s very tidal and if you don’t time it right there’s a whole world of thick smelly mud to contend with – which we have, on a few occasions, but that’s a different story, one involving rowlocks in the wrong place, the dog, lots of mud, a flock of swans and a fierce current pushing us up stream in the direction of Tescos.

This year, for one reason or another – the tides, the weather, the wind, right time/right place – we’ve only got the canoe out a few times. So despite the tides not looking ideal, we got up early (for a Bank Holiday Monday) and headed out to try out Roundwood Quay – another favourite place of ours and one with a launching spot closer to the channel and perhaps less muddy.

We got there just after high tide, about 9.30am, put the canoe straight in the water and once we’d pushed out into the cool, subdued waters of Cowlands Creek, cracked open the flask of tea and unwrapped the breakfast pastries. I couldn’t think of anywhere I would have rather been. The best weather of the day bounced off the thick green rippling water, herons, cormorants and sand pipers roosted in the trees and swooped overhead, and it was quiet, beautifully so, meditatively so. We just pottered about the quay for a while, paddling up the creeks, soaking up the heat.

Then we headed down river on the motor, past the King Harry Ferry, the grandeur of Trelissick House, out past Turnaware Point and Looe Beach and over to a small beach at St. Just in the Roseland, where I collected perfect yellow shells and we drank more tea. And despite only having a 5 ltr mineral water bottle lid serving as our petrol cap Рwhich had inadvertently slipped into the water on the first refuel Рwe ventured our furthest yet, round the corner to St. Mawes and into the Percuil River.

Seeing places from the water gives an entirely fresh perspective, it’s like stepping back from something and examining it like you might admire a picture, it seems somehow easier to take in. We pottered up past St. Mawes, enjoying the quaint waterside ensemble, and almost capsizing just the once as we cut across the jet ski area dodging kids in fast, expensive boats.

And homeward.¬†We didn’t get back to Roundwood Quay until about 2pm, just an hour before low tide, but there was just enough water to slip our flat bottomed boat over and up onto the shaley beach.

The black dog would have loved it and one day we’ll get a bigger boat, one that’s not so prone to mis-balance every time he lunges for a buoy in the water.

The Carrick Roads, the view from Cowlands Creek

Roundwood Quay, the view down into Cowlands Creek

Roundwood Quay, the view down into Cowlands Creek

The Carrick Roads, the view from Cowlands Creek


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