DOGS and ducks, sheep and sparrows, all life is here on the River Lym. We’ve pitched a tent just 30 minutes’ amble over the Dorset border, in sublime Uplyme – just us and 16 pints of Cheddar Valley cider.
This part of Devon, Hook Farm campsite, is half an hour’s drive from the office. It’s peaceful, yet surprisingly noisy. Church bells and a determined and sustained tweeting from the birds fails to drown out a zombie chorus of sheep growling, barking and shrieking on the hillside.
We set up our new barbecue and enjoy spying on our neighbours. Sometimes we use the binoculars, when we are not training them on the buzzards crying and circling above. We watch campers grapple with inflatable mattresses and speculate on how old they are, and what they’re smoking. Inexplicably, someone has hung up four socks on sticks stuck into the ground.
As dusk settles in, we can’t distinguish birds from bats any more. The sun sets on my right and the moon rises to my left.
Next morning we head for Lyme Regis, just over a mile and a half away. It’s hard to know if we are in Devon, or Dorset. We cross a bridge that’s badged up with the Wessex Ridgeway Trail - surely now we must be on home turf.
Uplyme is sublime – large character cottages shrugging under thatches and fighting off vast swathes of wisteria. Gardens are bursting with tumbling blooms. The footpath cleaves through clumps of pungent wild garlic and follows the twists and turns of the River Lym as it wends its way towards the sea. There’s stinging nettle leaves as big as my hand, and brightly coloured bungalows cluster at the waterside.
We emerge where the Lym trickles and gurgles into the sea. We climb up Broad Street to The Volunteer Inn, and sit down for a well-earned pint of Otter Ale and large glass of pinot grigio. We lunch on excellent whitebait, and ham sandwiches, then turn into Langmoor Gardens for a stunning view down to the ancient harbour of Lyme Regis, flanked by Golden Cap (golden no longer, thanks to encroaching bracken).
Seagulls scream and dive as our four lines pull in seven fine fish for tea.
We head home (via the Harbour Inn for a pint of Cornish Rattler and Town Mill). On our way back we see a mother duck keeping a close eye on her brood of fluffy ducklings. A lamb watches us pass. I harvest armfuls of wild garlic for us to cook with our fish. Mackerels plucked from the sea and slapped on the barbecue in under three hours. Heavenly.
We drink more Cheddar cider and head to the Talbot Arms for a top-up. We stagger back to the tent. Not a drop of rain all weekend. The sun sets on some very happy campers.