Unbroken sunshine greeted us this morning, but we soon discovered that it came with a nip in the air as a record number of us gathered in the car park. There were 37 in total so the lady from the Beech café panicked slightly when she saw us all and wandered over to see how many of us would be dining in the café at the end of the walk. After a show of hands, we wasted no time in setting off to walk along the well-maintained Tamar Trails here at Gulworthy. Alongside the perimeter fence we all walked, re-acquainting ourselves with the Shetland ponies beyond the fence as we passed them and later walking through an underpass beneath the A390 and on through this cutting to reach a quiet lane.
Lying ahead was Hatch Wood with a path leading down towards Chimney Rock where instead of damp mud, the ground beneath our feet now contained a mixture of broken slate, twigs, long, thin cones plus some tiny round cones and many layers of fallen pine needles while to both sides of the track stood the majestic conifer plantations and all the while, that characteristic pine smell hung in the air.
As we stroll along close to the River Tamar on our weekly walks, the water is often just meandering its way through the valley, hardly appearing to move while at other times when the tide is on the way out the rich, muddy feeding stations for wading birds can be seen lining either side. Today our walk continued through woodland high above the river when only those that scrambled down to the rock face and leaned over the edge got to glimpse the water way down below. The photo on the right was taken from Cornwall and shows the aptly named, Chimney Rock over in Devon and there near the top is where the few that did just that were soon standing and looking across the river towards Gunnislake while if we looked to our left we could even see the weir.
The steep hillsides bordering the River Tamar bear all the characteristics of a land carved out when a glacier melted millions of years ago so who said global warming is a new phenomenon?
There have been five or six major ice ages in the history of Earth over the past 3 billion years and on such occasions, Earth’s temperature rose just enough for part of a glacier to melt. Unbelievable torrents of water like those above would have soared through the landscape on their way to reach the oceans carrying with them great rocks and boulders along with uprooted trees and the carcasses of dead animals such as Wooly Mammoths, Wooly Rhinoceros and Megaloceros.It’s almost impossible to imagine a time before the first humans evolved whenthickly coated giants would have roamed the earth.
With Chimney Rock now behind us it was time to walk through ancient woodlandto reach Morwell Rock, but it proved a long, long uphill hike through Morwell Wood and as the temperature rose steadily throughout the morning, most of us were pretty tired by the time we arrived and flopped down on the ground but the first to reach it, bagged the one and only bench.
If it had seemed a long walk to get here, the return journey seemed even longer. This time a recently killed pheasant was seen lying in the middle of the path oozing blood and a couple of early butterflies were flitting about, one Brimstone and one Peacock. Liz was not her usual lively self today and had stayed behind a bit because she knew we would have to pass her to get back, but on our return she realised that a lens from her spectacles was missing so of course we all stopped to help search for it, but unfortunately, to no avail. Further on Tiffy, Jane’s black Labrador who had been charging about all morning, found some water to cool off in before having a good old shake as we all stood clear before carrying on. It was almost three hours after setting off that the walk finally came to an end and our weary bunch said our farewells for another week.