Patrick's Pub Trawls: Patrick McCaig visits one his favourite pubs, The Ferry Boat Inn at Dittisham
PUBLISHED: 10:30 23 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:25 24 February 2015
In his regular series of columns for Devon Life, PATRICK McCAIG of The Otter Brewery takes us on a trawl of some of his favourite pubs
The Ferry Boat Inn,
By rights, a pub that is only accessible by foot or boat should put off all but the hardiest of pub-goers. But if you embark on the steep road down through the village of Dittisham (pronounced Ditsum) to the water’s edge you will be rewarded with this month’s jewel in our county’s crown of pubs - The Ferry Boat Inn.
In my view, the best time to see and support our pubs is in the ‘quieter’ months. This is our time, when Devon belongs to Devon. As such, we all need to pull together and keep these hostelry’s beer engines flowing whilst the seasonal visitors are not around. Of course, the beauty of this time of year is smallish establishments like The Ferry Boat aren’t packed to the gunnels, which allow us to really enjoy the depth of what they can offer without being in a bun fight for bar space.
At the pub’s helm are Barry and his stepson Slugger (sometimes known as Simon) who both fit into this 300+ year old establishment with ease. They are the sort of entrepreneurial, creative, enthusiasts who, clearly enjoying what they do, provide the same rousing welcome to everyone and make a good pub special…and in this case, legendary!
Once inside, the low slung ceiling flies a flag from Luppitt (aka Otter Brewery) amongst other national flags which meet a large panoramic picture window. This frames a spectacular view of the ever changing River Dart, its moorings and a jetty that supports life in Dittisham. Across the water sits Agatha Christie’s former home – the Greenway Estate.
We arrived on a bright, frosty winter’s afternoon and immediately fell for the appeal and beauty of Dittisham. As I stood defrosting by a roaring log fire, my hat was nearly removed by a flying Otter which was attached to a rope that moved up and down through a series of pulleys as the pub’s door opened and closed. Quite unexpected but again creative, as I said!
Drawn to the bar, their beers are great…I say no more apart for the fact that the Otter Amber was kept spectacularly well! Slugger grinned as he clocked my gentle groan of pleasure after the first gulp.
Now, one of the pressures in a busy pub is to keep the food good, local and tasty. The curry is always on the board and is a must; the beer battered fish and chips are excellent and their own cold-smoked salmon is to die for. The menu is classic pub grub. What you find on your plate though, is a reminder pub food done well is about as good as it gets and as much a part of an English pub as its line-up of beer.
I have to say, The Ferry Boat is one of my favourites (both now, and in high summer when their beach barbecues take place). As usual we stayed far too long in the comfort and warmth of the pub, chatting to locals and some, not so. Clothed in our winter togs and bracing ourselves for the walk back up to the car park, the flying Otter nearly took my hat off for a second time. A couple sprung in the door from the cold, sporting the biggest smiles you can imagine. He had just popped the question outside the pub by the water’s edge and she was clearly happy - they both needed to celebrate! Thankfully, Mum was driving home!
Otter Amber and FBI Bitter, Otter Brewery
Doom Bar, Sharps Brewery
The Ferry Boat Inn, Manor Street, Dittisham, Devon, TQ6 0EX.
Tel: 01803 722368