Monday, 6 April 2015

E is for Estuaries in Cornwall …



We have a range of estuaries – all with a varied history of their uses and development … many are recorded in early annals, and in the Domesday Book of 1086.

Carrick Roads on River Fal

Cornwall had numerous ports for its varied goods – fish, tin, copper, iron, lead, manganese ore, slate, grain and imports particularly of coal to fire the mines.


Tiny inlets were so important in the early years of Cornwall – transportation by boat and small ships were the easiest way to export and import goods, including slaves.

Cornish moorland lake



The rivers meander down from the moorland spine … bubbling away, creating marshy areas, through the tiny fields of the farms … through ancient woodlands, into the estuaries with their saltmarshes and mudflats.




The four south coast Cornish estuaries are Rias … created after the Ice Age from an ancient valley, which flooded as the melt waters caused the sea level to rise dramatically.  Typically rias are dendritic in outline – treelike – thus the estuaries are very irregular and indented ... giving plenty of coves and creeks.


River Tamar with its catchment area -
the boundary between Devon and Cornwall

The River Tamar gives us the border between the two very distinct counties of Devon and Cornwall … the border was declared by King Athelstan in 936.


The Tamar valley played a huge role in Cornwall and Devon’s agricultural, economic and mineral development … now Plymouth is Devon’s major port and dockyard … having seen many notable events … including the Pilgrim Father’s departure on The Mayflower in 1620.

1904 photo of China Clay landings
in Fowey

Further west on the south coast comes the ancient port of Fowey … it was on the trade route from Ireland, which ran overland from the Camel estuary, to the continent. 




The River Camel (in Cornish meaning crooked river) – it rises on the edge of Bodmin Moor and drains most of north Cornwall.

The River Camel 



The River Gannel (in Cornish meaning lovage (as in the herb) river) drains north towards Newquay … the estuary contains an historic boatyard and is an important location for migratory birds.







Hayle Saltings


Hayle, aptly named Heyl for estuary … was a convenient place to land coal from South Wales and then taken inland by mule.  Once the railway and steam ships came in – Hayle’s importance faded but its early history is fascinating: Neolithic finds, Bronze Age and even the Phoenicians were here.





Helford River on the south coast serves the local area – but Falmouth, slightly east, has much better deep water facilities.    Helford has the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, the Duchy Oyster Farm and many creeks – of which Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek is the most famous.


 
Frenchman's Creek, Helford River

Falmouth our last estuary – is a huge ria – with very large deep water moorings for naval ships, and in recent times for mothballing uneconomic container ships … though times are changing for those too and they are mostly gone.




Five sites of Special Scientific Interest have been designated along the River Fal ... nature reserves, wetlands, dry heath, ancient woodland, rich ground flora on the flood plain, mud flats and salt marshes – all preserving our heritage, wildlife of many sorts … birds, otters, as well as coastal life … algae, shellfish, worms, crustaceans etc


 
An illustration of the Fal

Cornwall as its peninsula shape dictates was a focal point for early marauders … while the estuaries served the locals, the economic way into England, as too invaders … the Vikings came by ship, the Romans built roads … it is a county that has had to constantly change and adapt with the times.
 
Container ships mothballed in the deep
water of the Fal estuary

That is E for Estuaries, environmental havens at all times, and economic ones throughout the reaches of time … existence, slavery to tourism …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

50 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

What an amazing area, Hilary. I wasn't familiar with Hayle, in particular, until reading this..sounds like it was quite the place in ancient times.

On another note, your descriptive writing is really flawless. I love the way you bring these real settings to life (usually with verbs, keeping the setting from becoming static. Something I need to adapt to my own writing).

Nilanjana Bose said...

Your posts are always a joy to read, so informative!

Didn't know that Phoenicians had travelled as far as Cornwall, wow!

Best always,
Nila
Madly-in-Verse

Vanessa Morgan said...

That picture of the Frenchman's Creek is enough to get me on my way to Cornwall ;-)

Jo said...

I didn't know about most of this Hilary, how very interesting. I had no idea Cornwall had been such a commercial hub in its time. Of course I know of the ports such as Plymouth and Falmouth but didn't know much about the rest of your information. Thanks again.

Manzanita said...

I've always liked the word "estuary." You present much history that is all new to me.

Sue McPeak said...

Such beautiful scenery with so much ancient history. Incredible to think of it's evolution through the ages. Enjoying this so much, Hilary. I would love to visit...maybe one day.
Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
AtoZ 2015 Challenge
Minion for AJ's wHooligans

Annalisa Crawford said...

The Tamar Estuary is the most beautiful of all... Of course, I might be a little biased :-)

Sophie Duncan said...

I've never heard of rias before, but the idea of them being dendritic with lots of nooks and crannies make them sound very picturesque, but maybe also difficult to navigate.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
FB3X
Wittegen Press

Out on the prairie said...

A nice area to bird, the river runs deep into the country.

Rhodesia said...

Interesting post with lots of history. Hope you had a good Easter. Diane

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Love your writing, Hillary. This makes me want to visit in a big way.

Mark Clough said...

Those estuaries are beautiful places. A nice post, thank you.

Lisa said...

you took us through the landscape and time Hilary, I learned so much, geography history told in fairy tale like, thank you

Chrys Fey said...

All of those places look beautiful. I'm loving your history lessons. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth – Hayle flows into St Ives Bay – so we know it well and love it ‘muchly’! I’m shattered at your complementary comment – especially as I just write: so many many thanks .. and I can’t believe my writing is going to influence you …! Life is full of wonderful surprises!!

@ Nila – thanks so much … I just like to add bits in that interest me too – so I learn .. and yes those Phoenicians travelled far and wide didn’t they ..

@ Vanessa – Frenchman’s Creek and reminders of du Maurier’s Cornwall … we look forward to seeing you!

@ Jo – well I’m delighted to read you’re learning new things too. Cornwall had no alternative – it had to look after its own, especially really early on …

@ Manzanita – yes we can conjure a river slowly wending its way to the sea and opening up with relatively large vistas as it does so. It’s great you’re enjoying the history too ..

@ Sue – it has wonderful scenery and yes there’s lots of history … and as you say it is incredible to think of evolution and its historical comings and goings. I hope you can get over to visit one day …

@ Annalisa – I was waiting for you to comment … I think it must be an incredible river ... I really should know more about it … but we dashed over on our way to Penzance! One day I’ll come for a proper Tamar visit …

@ Sophie – Rias are just a fun geological event .. and then that term of being dendritic is rather eccentric … and as you point out picturesque … and yes they can be difficult to navigate – lots of submerged land around …

@ OOTP – lots of bird watching areas down here … and I’d expect the Tamar to offer much along its course …

@ Diane – thanks so much .. I hope you’ve enjoyed your French Easter …

@ Teresa – thanks so so much – really appreciated. I do hope sometime you can get over ..

@ Mark – the estuaries are lovely, but somehow I’d rather have one of your Greek inlets!

@ Lisa – really appreciate your thoughts here Lisa – I’m delighted you enjoyed ‘my fairy tale’ along the estuaries …

@ Chrys – I’m so happy to read you’re enjoying the posts – history lessons and all ..

Cheers everyone – honestly I’m so chuffed with your complementary comments – they mean the world to me .. thank you!! I hope you all had fun, happy and peaceful Easters - Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

All that history reminds me how young our country is. It's great how those places learn to change with the times.

Botanist said...

These posts are bringing back memories. I remember visiting the seal sanctuary at Gweek, down a maze of narrow country lanes.

cleemckenzie said...

I always learn so much about your part of the world when I visit. This post was no exception. Your mention of Frenchman's Creek stirred the memory reading that story ages ago. Now I have the setting more vividly in mind.

Bob Scotney said...

I'm a fan of Cornwall's estuaries - especially that of the Fowey, and as I'm sure you will not be surprised to learn of Frenchman's Creek.

Joanne said...

just having water flow is a plus. Sounds lovely.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting the River Tamar starts near the sea and flows away from it to the other side.

Sharon Marie Himsl said...

A lot of history on your side of the world, Hilary! I like how the rivers define the borders on a map.

Susan Scott said...

O my word Hilary! Or, o YOUR words! Just lovely thank you. You really do make history come alive in your words and generosity in your descriptions and photos. Thank you so much! I want to come and visit Cornwall again ...

Suzanne Sapsed said...

Just read A through to E, couldn't resist! I didn't know about the Arthurian Halls - that stained glass is stunning. Hope it isn't in Tintagel, as I was there this summer and will be disappointed if I missed it! x

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Your writing is beautiful and amazing. Thank you for sharing so much!

Lisa said...

Wow, so many estuaries. I was impressed that the UK wants to keep so many areas 'natural' and safe for future generations. I get the feeling over here that all some folks want to do is turn every little area into a money-making machine, regardless of the cost. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

Bish Denham said...

I'd love to spend a long time in England/Scotland. So much to see and learn.

Elise Fallson said...

Estuaries have their own unique ecosystems. My father lives on an estuarium in North Carolina, it's quite lovely, though perhaps, not quite as diverse as what you have pictured here. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - your history is as old as ours .. just happens ours got recorded and mixed up with Romans and other civilisations. Cornwall has struggled to adapt, but times change and new people come along with great ideas ... it's not a very rich county.

@ Ian - how right you are .. the Seal Sanctuary is down a maze of country lanes ... mostly so narrow only one car get through. Glad you're enjoying the memory trails ..

@ Lee - it's great to know you can learn so much ... and I thought Frenchman's Creek would stir a few memories .. and this image does evoke it ..

@ Bob - ah you know the Fowey .. I only really know Hayle and Falmouth ... but can get the feel of the others. Another who is delighted by Frenchman's Creek - she was a brilliant writer and story teller.

@ Joanne - good to meet you .. and being by the water can be so therapeutic - you're right.

@ Alex - I hope you meant that the river flows down to the sea .. I'm sure you did! But I was surprised to see the catchment area right across the counties ...

@ Sharon - yes lots of history here ... keep you occupied for a few centuries! I'll have to check on other rivers and see if they match the boundaries they flow through ...

@ Susan - thank you so much! I'm delighted that you enjoy coming here .. I just enjoy doing what I do and am so delighted bloggers seem to be happy to visit ...

We look forward to seeing you in Cornwall again ..

Cheers everyone - thanks so much ... for all the lovely comments - Hilary

Out on the prairie said...

I did a slight revision in my blog to explain my huge dog better.

Nick Wilford said...

I love how your post reached far back in time. So much coming and going in estuaries for many purposes.

loverofwords said...

Hilary, I think you made all of us who don't live in or near Cornwall, want to visit there soon. And if we do, appreciate it even more. You are our cyber tour guide. Thank you!

Kern Windwraith said...

I'm so pleased to have discovered your blog! This was fascinating -- a bit of a lesson in geography, history and the environment, I look forward to reading more.

Ann Best said...

Estuaries. Sounds so romantic, as does Cornwall (to me) and anything British. What would the place be like without water :)

D.G. Hudson said...

Estuaries,and coastlines always interest me. I usually learn something at your blog each time I visit.

Currently watching shows about the Vikings, and they are about to attack Paris. I imagine they would have attacked English cities in much the same manner.

Karen Lange said...

Interesting stuff! This is a great choice for the letter E. There were similar waterways where we used to live in southern NJ, US. This made me a bit nostalgic. :) Have a great week!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Fascinating, as always, Hilary. I love to read about things like this. You know me, love wildlife and learning fun stuff about other places.

I'd love to visit the River Fal. I love all those nooks and crannies and reserves. We had some nice reserves attached to university in California when I lived there. Here in Missouri there has been quite a bit done to preserve and keep clean the river throughways. Conservation Department will put out calls for volunteers to help with cleaning so the professionals can add cleaning methods like rocks and such. The life and environment of a river is amazing isn't it?

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Karen Jones Gowen said...

It's interesting to realize how important waterways have been in the development of a country's history and culture.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Steve – thanks for letting me know a little more about Bruce the huge dog!

@ Nick – yes I do tend to cross the time divide in my posts don’t I. You’re right estuaries and navigable rivers are so important ..

@ Nat – well that would be wonderful if we get to see a few bloggers visit us here in the UK and particularly Cornwall – I’d love to see you.

@ Kern – how wonderful to meet you – and I’m so pleased you’re happy with what you found here .. looking forward to seeing you again.

@ Ann – they’re an interesting bunch of estuaries … when I talk about them like this .. not concentrating on just one. And what would our lives be like without water .. unimagineable. Romance happens in Cornwall …

@ DG – thanks so much .. so much coastline in Cornwall and writing about these Rias and normal estuaries have really opened my eyes …

The Vikings were a marauding lot … and I’ve written one post of the effect their language has on our place names today … they were bad, but they were good too …

@ Karen – thanks so much I only decided on estuaries at the last minute. Rivers and their estuaries are special and remind us of earlier days with family and friends … it’s good to be nostalgic sometimes!

@ Sia – it’s great having interested readers, who are happy to visit and glean a few snippets from me.

The Fal is an incredible estuary … a huge river entrance (well to us anyway!) … it is also very deep. As you say lots of nooks and crannies for boating along. We are into conservation here – though can struggle in some places – but we have a lot of environmentally aware experts and locals around. As you say the life and environment of a river is amazing .. it offers so much.

@ Karen – all waterways were the routes of the ancient peoples … and as you so rightly say affect our history and our culture in whichever country we live in ..

Thanks so much to you all – so pleased you’ve enjoyed this estuary post .. cheers Hilary

Sara C. Snider said...

I'm loving all the Cornish words. So much history is such a lovely part of the world. Thank you for sharing.

Clarabelle Rant said...

I want to do a river cruise down the "FAL" and have a picnic lunch at Frenchman's creek!

You can find me here:
ClarabelleRant

helen tilston said...

Hello Hilary,
Cornwall looks so beautiful and one day we plan on visiting. It deserves a good long visit. There is so much to see and one cannot forget the delicious food too.

Helen xx

M. J. Joachim said...

Preserving nature and wild lands is such an important thing to do. This knowledge and history you share about your estuaries is fascinating, important and wonderful!

Rhonda Albom said...

I had no idea your area was so dependent on the waterways, nor that it had such intricate system.

DMS said...

I learned so much! Love the pictures that go with the information. Beautiful!
~Jess

J Lenni Dorner said...

These are some fantastic pictures! I couldn't help but pin one. Lovely post.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - it's been fun putting the Cornish words in .. and I'm glad you're enjoying the history.

@ Clarabelle - that would be a lovely day out wouldn't it ... lunch at Frenchman's Creek, after a spell of gently paddling in the creeks.

@ Helen - well Eire is very special .. but I'm glad you're thinking of visiting Cornwall sometime. It does deserve some time - no point in rushing! Stops for food too ..

@ MJ - thanks for coming by - conservation is so important now - and somehow we need to help the younger generations understand the importance of our lands and waterways ..

@ Rhonda - well we were about two hundred years ago - before the railways and ultimately the car. Water was the only (heavy) transport route ...

@ Jess - that's lovely to hear .. and the pictures do bring ideas out don't they ...

Thanks everybody .. lovely to see so many of you .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi J .. you snuck in - but thanks so much for your comment .. cheers Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

Beautiful scenery with amazing history.
Hayle is amazing with the Neolithic finds, and links to the Bronze Age and even the Phoenicians.

I love the word 'dendritic'...
I remember the dendrite structures of the neuron branching out... which we learned about in biology... seems like ages ago...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Michelle - the different estuaries offer so much don't they ... there's Neolithic finds, Bronze Age finds and then we know the Phoenicians came ashore for the tin ..

Dendritic - I don't remember learning about neurons at school .. but certainly dendritic arteries abounded .. and as you mention - it is a good descriptive word ...

Thanks for the visit - cheers Hilary