I’m lying in a lorry inner tube on a more or less deserted beach with my dogs. The Boy is riding down the river letting the current take him all the way to the sea.
There are no tourists here. All the locals are on Mothecombe Beach at the head of the Erme Estuary, having paid the princely sum of £4-50 for the entire day’s parking in a beautiful field.
Coastguard’s Beach is 5 mins walk down a hill – once on the beach turn left and head upstream / away from the crowds to where the really local cognoscenti enjoy peace and quiet & river swimming with shade from trees to hide from the full heat of the mid-day sun.
You can walk a couple of miles upstream an hour after high tide and be confident that you can make it back within 8 hours. The river can be crossed easily for several hours, meaning that you can enjoy the delights of Wonwell Beach without the nightmare of parking on a narrow dead end lane.
Unlike Mothecombe Beach, which is only open on a Wednesday and at the weekends, Coastguard’s Beach is open every day and is dog friendly – its best not to ask about lighting a fire, but the old concept of forgiveness being easier to seek than permission seems the best way to approach that one.
Mothecombe is less than 30 mins drive from Plymouth. Check the tides before you leave.
You can find details here: http://www.flete.co.uk/beaches/.
A really great Map of the Estuary can be found here