Tamar Valley, Cornwall: Swallows, steamboats and signs of old industry bring this part of the valley to life
Upriver of Calstock, within one of the Tamar’s many meanders, polleny grasses and flowering rush intersperse with gullies and lagoons in a new wetland – for flood defence and conservation. On this dull afternoon, swallows dip above shallow pools and the chirruping of unseen birds, emanating from the recreated marsh, sound different from familiar woodland songs.
Outside the soughing reedbeds, on the ebbing tide, a double-masted yacht secures a mooring in the channel beneath Buttspill Wood, and by Tuckermarsh Quay a little steamboat puffs quietly downstream towards a gathering of enthusiasts’ craft. Ahead, Okeltor mine engine house and chimney are almost obscured by trees. Nearer, another monument to former industry is a trio of defunct limekilns with granite arches and cave-like interiors dripping limey water from dainty stalactites.