‘There’s many a time that I’ve had a mullet jump into my kayak or into the gig!’ laughs Bev Reason, secretary of the Combwich Boat Club, ‘and when the tide is in and the sun is shining, being out on the River Parrett is one of the best places to be.’ Combwich, pronounced ‘Cummidge’ means ‘settlement in a valley’ and forms part of the wider parish of Otterhampton. It’s location as the first in-land development along the river from the Bristol Channel has, over countless generations, made it a key port. Nowadays, although utilised by EDF for the further development of Hinkley, the trade has diminished vastly and the majority of watergoers are recreational.

Commodore of the boat club, Trevor Reason is keen to promote the club facilities to those in the village and beyond, ‘We’re incredibly fortunate to have a slipway for launching, a boat lift, storage facilities, a safety boat and a viewing deck across the Parrett. The club has been here a long time and we continue to evolve to give our members what they need, plus we’re one of the cheapest boat clubs in the county because we’re all hands on. Whether you’re a yachtsman, kayaker, boat owner or Cornish gig-rower, all are welcome!’

There’s no arguing that the welcome here is warm. Having been greeted with a bacon bap and fresh coffee on arrival, I’ve already met many locals, all of whom are eager to share their love for their village and their good news stories. A recent grant of £500,000 from EDF has seen many improvements including the development of a new playground and the addition of solar panels to the village hall. Sue Barton is chair of the Otterhampton Village Hall Trustees and has lived here for over 20 years, ‘We’re a real village with real people. Combwich has so many different people from different backgrounds, there’s a real blend of Hinkley Point employees and Somerset folk and everyone is integrated. People come here to work and end up staying because they love it so much!’ With a thriving community supporting the darts, skittles and short mat bowls teams each week, the village hall also has its own Harbour View Bar opening a few days a week so as to work alongside the village pub, The Anchor. Regular fitness clubs, art classes and a monthly market complete the offering before the local band, Apalachee Nation, take to the stage for their regular rehearsals of Southern Rock and Blues.

In harmony with the activities, there is also a key element of peacefulness to be found here. Just a short walk along the riverbank is the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Steart Marshes. Nicole Turnball is the Engagement and Learning Manager there and benefits from living in Combwich and regularly walking to work, ‘Steart Marshes has without doubt transformed my life. We are so fortunate to have the footpath network which has made nature a whole lot more accessible which is in turn fantastic for everyone’s health and wellbeing. The riverbank is my favourite place, the vistas are so dramatic, and when it’s low tide the mud flats remind me of wet hippos basking in the sun!’

Barry Leathwood who chairs the Otter Wheels community car scheme says, ‘Although we’re a cul-de-sac village without many pavements it actually means that villagers are obliged to walk on the quiet roads. This in turn naturally facilitates people talking to each other. On average, a 3-minute walk to the post office can take me up to an hour!’

Ancient Walkway

It is believed that Combwich plays host to one of the country’s oldest ‘herepaths’ dating back to the 9th century when King Alfred was on the run from the Danes. Still visible on a very low tide are the remains of an ancient ford where rock lies beneath the exposed mud of the River Parrett. In more recent history this crossing was used by Pilgrims travelling from the West enroute to Glastonbury. Annie Cole grew up in the village, ‘When we used to camp in the garden as children, we were told that on a quiet night you could hear the footsteps of the Pilgrims walking through the village – that was always quite spooky!’ Today the footsteps of hikers’ following the 50-mile River Parrett Trail are more likely to be heard, though now and again local boatmen have been asked if they will ferry long distance walkers across the water to Pawlett as they pick up the England Coast Path.

Did you know?

91-year-old Bill Johnson has lived in the village for 60 years and has a wealth of local knowledge. A copy of a map dating from 1884 shows the location of a landing stage, ‘It was here that ships replenished their gun powder supplies. In those days trading ships needing to be fortified!’


693 (Census 2011)

Stay or buy


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