According to King Harry’s Cornwall Area Map the Fal-Ruan Estuary Nature Reserve is populated by giant ostrich-sized waders that look a little like curlew. That is, of course, if you take their symbolic representation at face value. I can hear the real life curlew calling, but cannot see them. It’s such a recognisable sound, sorrowful and shrill, but for some reason it’s not a sound I can ever recall in my mind when I’m elsewhere. That sound belongs to wide waters and mudflats; which is exactly what this reserve is made up of. It’s difficult to get a good view of the site, partly because it’s a landscape of so little relief that when you’re standing on a level with it you can only really see what’s directly in front of you, and partly because there’s very little direct access to this part of the river as it’s surrounded on all sides by private farmland and unless the tide is right in the channel is un-navigable, reduced to little more than a wiggly blue worm meandering its way through the mudflats on the map. Even on a spring high tide it makes for treacherous sailing, as sandbars that would usually be exposed at high water on an average tide are immersed, though never covered by enough water to eliminate the possibility of running aground. Continue reading
– Lamouth Creek – Roundwood – Cowlands Creek (where?)
From Trelissick garden I meander through the wider estate to Roundwood Quay on the conjunction between Cowlands and Lamouth Creeks and the Fal. The tide waters haven’t made it all the way up here yet, and the creek mud is runnelled with mini-rivulets mapping out fluvial geomorphology speeded up and scaled down. This is where to find all the textbook river features denied the Fal by eustatic sea level rise: look, here’s some channel braiding, leading to a delta before the water drivels into the main body of the creek, and there’s even a tiny ox-bow lake over there. At the end of the creek the remains of an Iron Age fort stand in the woodlands. No one knows why it was built or what it was used for, but even so long ago the Fal must have been a geographical advantage. A troop of green clad National Trusties are wielding saws and shears in the undergrowth – probably removing more of those dreaded rhododendrons. Most environmental management is just gardening on a grander scale after all. It’s the same principle as the weeds in Mylor churchyard, just more plants growing in the wrong place at the wrong time: after all, these guys’ colleagues are weeding round the rhododendrons back at Trelissick.