Encircled by the village above the Ham is a big green space by the river, surrounded by trees, and with a fantastic view of the Dart. Residents and visitors alike enjoy to walk (with and without dogs), to sit on the benches and take in the view, to have a picnic, to let the kids play in the playground. There is a car park owned and run by the Parish Council with all profits going back in to help pay for community projects such as maintaining and improving the Ham. There is also a toilet block.
You can access the river through the far end of the car park, which is also where the sailing club building is be be found.
At the other corner of the Ham a path gives pedestrian access to the Level if you take the right hand fork, or to Manor street (and the Ferry Boat Inn and Anchorstone cafe) if you go left. At low tide you can walk along the side of the river to get to the Ferry Boat Inn and Anchorstone cafe, or of course just to enjoy a walk.
The Ham Playground Project
Playgrounds don’t last forever and some of the equipment had reached the end of its life so was taken down before becoming unsafe.
The Playground working group took on the project and as a starting point carried out a consultation to find out how our local community use the Ham and what they would like to see in terms of play equipment. We had a great response and the results let us clearly see they types of activity which we had to cater for, and there was a surprise or two too, which really justifies carrying out the consultation. As well as the need for play equipment, which was expected, there was also a demand for some picnic tables, a BBQ area and a path around the Ham. To make sense of it and to split the project into manageable chunks we divided it up into phases.
For Phase 1 we chose to replace the main piece of play equipment. We identified the minimum specification for what was needed and put it out to a competitive tender process.
The chosen provider was Wicksteed who make a piece of equipment called the “Pinta Galleon”. Very soon this proud new play galleon will be installed, facing out towards the Dart.
The galleon allows for sliding, climbing and will of course fire up imaginative play, all activities which our consultation highlighted.
Picnic tables, a BBQ area and a new swing are part of Phase 2. The existing wooden framed swings are nearing the end of their life so they will need replacing and at the same time new surfacing installed.
Although technically fires are not permitted we all know that many people enjoy to picnic and BBQ on the Ham. This has meant some burnt patches of grass and the occasional stone robbed off a wall. We felt that a pragmatic approach would be to provide a safe and pleasant place for what was already happening. This will likely take the form of a big stone slab in the ground near a couple of picnic tables. An advantage of picnic tables is that they should hopefully provide a place for the elderly to picnic more easily: sitting on the ground it not always the best option.
Phase 3 will be the path around the Ham which is rather more ambitious. The path would provide easy access to the benches by the river for those who do not find walking easy, or those who use a wheelchair. It will also provide a circular route around the Ham which we hope will encourage walking (and jogging perhaps) and be a good place for children to learn to ride bikes. Its also an opportunity to put some drainage in place as the Ham can get a bit boggy at times, especially on the side near the car park.