Being on or beside the water always has a calming effect, soafter a busy working week, what better place to relax than onboard theimpressive 110 year old Salmestone Dutch Barge, peacefully moored in the heartof the pretty medieval town of Sandwich in Kent?
We were lucky enough to spend a night on this incrediblyspacious barge on the picturesque River Stour, which flows out into the NorthSea at Pegwell Bay (a great place for seal-spotting, and lucky guests atSalmestone may even spot some venturing up the river past the barge at times!).
On a particularly sunny Saturday afternoon we were met atthe Marina entrance by friendly owner Archie, who has spent years lovinglyrenovating this historic and well-travelled barge and is clearly most in love with it – andrightly so! The barge sleeps up to 6 guests and is pet-friendly, with doggielife jackets provided on request. Although we had no pooch with us on thisoccasion, I can imagine that it would be a great adventure for a four leggedfriend!
We boarded the barge via a gangplank and ladder and Archieshowed us around and ran us through everything we’d need to know – from alittle history of the barge, to how to work the AGA stove and tips for placesto eat (after all, in a place called Sandwich how could we not think about food all the time!).
We were really impressed at the enormous deck area strungwith solar lights, kitted out with benches and a fabulous wicker hanging chair,and the view towards the Toll Bridge with the river gently flowing past. Nothaving stayed on a boat before, we were expecting a little bobbing around, butit was incredibly robust and static.
Through the wheelhouse there was a little area to sit at thebow, and inside the cabin area the steps led down to the lower deck, through acharming and well equipped galley kitchen with aforementioned stove.
The main living area which had comfy sofas (one of whichconverts to a double to sleep two guests), a large Captain’s table and chairs(complete with obligatory Captain’s hats!), flat screen TV, lots of info on thelocal area and two adult-sized bunk beds which were too tempting not to climbinto! The wood panelling gave the space an incredibly cosy and calming feel,which coupled with the view of the willow trees and gently flowing riverthrough the port holes created an idyllic haven from normality.
There was a family bathroom with shower and WC, and themaster bedroom also had its own ensuite as well as an extremely comfortable largebed. Throughout the barge owner Archie’s own artworks added fabulous brightpops of colour.
Once we had settled in, we decided to go and exploreSandwich which is full of hidden gems dotted around through the narrow twistingstreets. We popped into a sweet little antiques shop, emerging with sometreasures, and admired the offerings of the various tempting cafes and tearooms, before stopping for a refreshing drink outside the riverside Crispin Inn(a fascinating place which originally dates right back to 1491 as a dwelling,before becoming an Inn in the late 1700s).
All that exploration meant we had worked up an appetite, sowe decided to try out one of Archie’s recommendations, Pizza Giovanni at theDrill Hall (above), just a short amble up the riverside from Salmestone. The Drill Hallis a large communal space also housing a bar and with gelato made onsite, andlooked like a very comfortable and welcoming place to spend a few hours – but aswe had our own little spot of bliss to enjoy, we opted for takeaway on thisoccasion and scurried away with our delicious wood-fired pizzas to enjoy in thecomfort of our barge.
The remainder of the evening was spent sipping Prosecco onthe deck as the sun set, and watching the many twinkling solar lights on thedeck flicker on in succession as the light faded and the river rushed gentlyby. We challenge you to imagine a more relaxing spot!
After a peaceful night’s slumber, we awoke to the sunpeeking through the portholes, and indulged in an alfresco breakfast on deck, whilstpondering what we should do with our day.
There is so much to see in the area that we were spoilt forchoice, but as it was a nice sunny day and we were feeling in the seaside mood weopted for a firm favourite, the quirky and arty town of Margate. After a raid ofthe excellent vintage shops, we headed to the retro-tastic Dreamland amusementpark and spent our day in utter kitsch seaside bliss involving arcade games,rides, ice-cream and more ice-cream.
After a full day of fun, it was then time to head home toeveryday life – but our Kent barge adventure had left us feeling relaxed andbuoyant, and ready to face the working week again.
If you like the sound of a relaxing river break onboard themighty Salmestone Dutch Barge, you can find out more or enquire to book here.