Monday, 18 October 2010

Severn Sands - last passage through the Marshes

After being tossed by stormy seas, the Severn Sands dredger has finally come to rest at Yelland. The massive hulk was originally docked at Fremington Quay in March 2007 and remained there until 2008 until it broke its moorings during storms, by January 2009 it had become a wreck beached beyond the Quay. This year it broke its moorings once again when exceptionally high tides flung it across the far side of the estuary where it settled on the riverbank at Heanton Court. The floundering wreck and it’s perilous cargo has put local shipping and the environment in jeopardy and the problems have been highlighted in the local news for some time. Last week, in an operation overseen by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the dredger was towed back across the estuary to the big old jetty at Yelland where it is planned to remove all hazardous materials and clean it up before it is safely dismantled. The hulk, pictured Sunday 10th October, is located, just off the Tarka Trail, in a peaceful, scenic spot beyond the RSPB nature reserve Isley Marsh. Isley Marsh is made up of saltmarsh and intertidal mudflats on the southern edge of the Taw Torridge estuary and lies largely within the estuary SSSI. It is an important haven in the busy estuary for undisturbed feeding and resting birds, especially the wintering flocks of ducks (such as teal) and waders (including significant numbers of curlew, greenshank and dunlin). In recent years, numbers of little egret have increased and, in winter, it is often possible to see spoonbills. NB. RSPB Isley Nature Reserve: Visitor access is restricted to public footpaths, largely outside the reserve itself, but allowing expansive views across the estuary and the surrounding farmland. There is no public parking within two miles, although the Tarka Trail runs along the south side of the reserve, allowing easy foot and cycle access along this former railway track. Click here to find RSPB Nature Reserves in Devon and Cornwall

Alongside "Severn Sands" photo copyright B. D. Adams

In the Area and across the estuary Home Marsh Farm, Instow, Lower Yelland, Braunton Biosphere

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