Samphire and Seals on the River Deben
A popular destination with our guests is the River Deben at Woodbridge, just 25 minutes from Woodfarm. We’ve covered lots of things to do along the Deben, but this Blog Post is all about my up close encounters with the seals and samphire picking here.
The River Deben is my favourite spot for getting away and relaxing. Running my Suffolk holiday cottage business means I don’t really get to go on holiday like normal people but I am fortunate enough to be able to get away to my boat for at least 24 hours every week to recharge my batteries!
This week I managed to get away for a few days and the great thing about it is that I can still work, answer online enquiries and the phone, and come up with ideas for these Blog Posts to keep you informed about things going on in Suffolk. I have been known to take enquiry calls whilst kayaking!
One of my favourite spots along the River Deben is an area called ‘The Rocks’, where we drop anchor and unwind with only the sea birds for company. Usually! We are often very lucky to also see seals along the River Deben!
We anchored up this week and then headed off in the ‘tender’ (little dinghy to get ashore) to go down a narrow creek between Waldringfield and Hemley, to pick samphire as it grows in abundance here. I never buy it in the shops as it’s expensive and I know where there is more growing than one could ever eat for free! We usually cook the samphire within hours of picking it and it is so salty! We do wash the salt water off first!
There are often one or two seals about, although they never come too close. It’s always very exciting to see them in such proximity in their natural habitat. But this week was a real treat as for the first time we saw a mother sunbathing, whom we often see, and then one by one we saw three pups too!
Then later we saw them all together on land, along with Dad! Such an awesome experience to see a family of five wild seals right in the middle of Suffolk! And to top it all we saw another lone seal just around the headland too! He/she may have been part of the family too of course.
Mum was the first to be spotted and she was very nonchalant, just chilling on a summer’s day, and actually rolled over as we approached. We cut the engine when we saw her as they don’t like the noise, and then just rowed past her, round the creek.
This is where we find lots of samphire and as you can see, it’s a muddy process to get it! The mud is very warm and soft so I think I have very pampered feet after this. Free beauty treatment as well as free samphire!
It grows along the edges of the water and at high tide is completely submerged so it’s clearly a very hardy plant!
As we came back past Mama Seal, we then spotted, one by one, her pups; three in all! They’d obviously been out playing when we came by the first time. We just drifted around and they were very playful and inquisitive. They kept bobbing up and down looking at us, then would disappear under the water and come up the other side of the boat. It was so nice just drifting and letting them do this.
We then headed off down the opposite side of the creek just to see where it goes and when we came back the pups were all on the land with Mum. And dad! What an amazing sight to see a family of five seals, totally in their own habitat just yards away from the river where so many boats pass every day. Then on our way back down the creek to join the River Deben we saw the lone seal I mentioned too! Six is definitely our record in one day!
Then back on board to wash and prep the samphire.
As I say, we often spot the seals on the river itself but they do tend to maintain their distance. We’ve been very lucky on a few occasions to have them come into the yacht harbour and swim about near the boat.
After our seal-spotting adventure, we enjoyed a nice prawn and samphire salad for lunch.
Woodbridge is such a great spot just 25 minutes from Woodfarm and I do feel very fortunate to be able to come and enjoy the very best of nature on my days off. You can check more details about the area in a couple of my other Blog Posts – this one about Woodbridge, and this one about Sutton Hoo.