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River Tamar



The River Tamar is a significant river in southwest England, flowing through two counties - Devon and Cornwall. It is approximately 61 miles long and has a catchment area of 1,680 square miles.


The river runs from Bodmin Moor through the towns of Launceston, Plymouth and Saltash before entering the English Channel.

Brief History of River Tamar

The name "Tamar" has Celtic origins, meaning "Great Water." The river has been an essential part of the region's history for centuries, with evidence of human activity along its banks dating back to the Bronze Age.


During Roman times, the Tamar served as a natural boundary between Britannia and Rome's conquered territory in present-day Wales. During the Middle Ages, the Tamar was used for transportation (including goods such as tin), fishing and agriculture.

By Victoria-era England (1837-1901), steamboats were plying their trade along its length to export local products such as copper ore. Today, it remains an important waterway for commerce with large cargo ships carrying goods upriver to Plymouth's dockyards or nearby industrial estates.


The Importance of River Tamar to the Region


The River Tamar holds great significance for both Devon and Cornwall because it provides these regions with essential resources like drinking water, irrigation for farming, recreational activities and tourism opportunities.


The river supports numerous species of fish (including salmon) which are vital to local economies as they provide employment opportunities through angling tourism.

Moreover, many communities have settled around the banks of this mighty river that serves as an anchor point for their cultural identity. Residents have passed down stories about their ancestors who worked on or near it over generations; thus creating a unique sense of place within this region.


Overview of What Will Be Covered in Outline


This article will cover the River Tamar's geographical features, ecology and wildlife, historical significance and cultural identity, recreational activities along its banks, modern development around the river, and future plans for sustainable development.


Through this article, we hope to provide readers with a comprehensive understanding of how this river has impacted life in the region over time.

Geographical Features of River Tamar

Location and Size of the River


The River Tamar is a major river in South West England that runs for approximately 61 miles from its source to its mouth. The river flows through the counties of Devon and Cornwall, two of the largest counties in England.


It forms part of the natural boundary between Devon and Cornwall, and it’s one of the longest rivers in this region. The catchment area of the River Tamar covers an estimated 1,700 square miles.

Source and Mouth of the River


The source of River Tamar is located on Bodmin Moor, which is a granite moorland in Cornwall.


After starting as a small stream at an elevation of approximately 1,200 feet above sea level, it gradually grows as it flows southwards towards Plymouth Sound where it meets with the English Channel.


Along its journey to Plymouth Sound, it passes through several towns including Launceston, Gunnislake and Calstock.

Topography and Surrounding Landscape


The topography around the river varies from steep-sided valleys to flat floodplains depending on where you are on its course. At times along its route, you can see steep cliffs rising up from either side or wooded hills sloping gently down to meet with waterways or fields.


There are also rolling hillsides that sweep up towards Dartmoor National Park which lies to the East.

In addition to this diverse topography surrounding River Tamar there are many other interesting features such as industrial buildings left over from mining days or ancient ceremonial sites such as stone circles that have been here for thousands upon thousands of years.


The entire length of this river is rich in culture and history making it an incredible place for anyone who wants to explore one of England's most beautiful waterways.

Ecology and Wildlife along River Tamar

Flora and Fauna Found Along the Riverbanks


The River Tamar is home to various species of flora and fauna, including birds, mammals, invertebrates, fish, and plants. The riverbanks are lined with trees such as oak, willow, and alder. The undergrowth consists of wildflowers such as primroses and bluebells.

The river also supports a wide variety of aquatic life such as salmon, trout, eels, otters and water voles. The estuary at the mouth of the river is an important habitat for wading birds like the curlew and oystercatcher.

The mudflats provide an excellent feeding ground for these birds. The salt marshes support a unique community of plants that are adapted to living in saltwater environments.

Threats to Biodiversity in the Area


The River Tamar faces several threats to its biodiversity due to human activities such as agriculture runoff containing pesticides or fertilizers which can pollute the water supply leading to health problems for aquatic life; development in the surrounding areas that can destroy habitats vital for flora and fauna; boat traffic which can cause noise pollution that negatively impacts birdlife.


Furthermore, invasive species like Japanese knotweed pose a significant threat to native plant species by outcompeting them for resources. Climate change also poses a threat as changes in temperature or precipitation patterns can affect water levels which could impact aquatic life.

Conservation Efforts to Protect Wildlife


Various conservation efforts have been put into place over recent years by local authorities and environmental groups aimed at protecting wildlife along River Tamar's banks.


These include planting schemes aimed at providing natural habitats for animals; wildlife corridors where animals can move freely between different habitats without being affected by human activity; marine protection areas that restrict fishing and boating activities to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Educational programs have also been developed to help raise awareness of the importance of protecting wildlife in the area. These programs aim to increase public support for conservation efforts, ultimately contributing towards a more sustainable future for the River Tamar, its habitats and its wildlife.

Historical Significance of River Tamar


Role in trade and transportation throughout history


The River Tamar has played a crucial role in the trade and transportation of goods for centuries. Its position as a natural harbor made it an ideal location for ships to unload their cargo.


During the 16th and 17th centuries, the river was used as a gateway for the export of copper and other minerals from the mines located in Devon and Cornwall.

This led to the growth of several towns along its banks including Plymouth, Saltash, and Calstock. As trade increased along the river, so did its importance in transportation.

Several bridges were constructed across the river to connect both sides, making it easier for people to travel from one place to another. The Tamar Bridge which was built in 1961 is a prime example of this development.

Influence on local culture and traditions


The River Tamar has been at the heart of local culture and tradition since time immemorial. It has been celebrated in poetry, literature, music and art due to its beauty and significance.


The river has inspired many artists over the years including JMW Turner who painted several works depicting scenes along its banks.

Local festivals such as Flushing Regatta Week held annually on the banks of River Tamar bring together people from all walks of life to celebrate their heritage. Participants engage in various activities such as rowing competitions, fishing contests, water polo matches among others.

Famous landmarks along the river

There are several historic landmarks located on or near River Tamar that have become popular tourist attractions over time.


These include:

  •  Cotehele House: Located on a hilltop overlooking River Tamar near Calstock is this magnificent Tudor house dating back over 500 years. - Plymouth Hoe: This iconic seafront promenade boasts spectacular views of River Tamar and is home to the famous Smeaton's Tower lighthouse.

  •  Morwellham Quay: This restored 19th-century port town offers a glimpse into the region's industrial past and is now a living history museum. These landmarks serve as a testament to the rich heritage of River Tamar and attract visitors from all over the world.

Recreational Activities on River Tamar


Water sports such as kayaking, canoeing, fishing, etc.


For water sports enthusiasts, River Tamar is a great destination. The water is calm in certain areas, making it ideal for beginners to learn kayaking or canoeing. Experienced paddlers can challenge themselves by navigating through the rougher sections of the river.

Fishing is also popular on the river for those hoping to catch brown trout or salmon. There are numerous companies that offer guided tours and equipment rentals for various water sports activities.

Visitors can choose from half-day to multi-day tours that take them through different parts of the river. These tours are also accompanied by experienced guides who provide interesting information about different aspects of the river.

Scenic walks or hikes along the riverbanks


For those who prefer land-based activities, there are many scenic walks and hikes available along the banks of River Tamar. One popular route is from Cotehele Quay to Calstock through Cotehele woods which offers stunning views of the river and its surroundings.

The landscape surrounding River Tamar provides visitors with a diverse range of terrain to explore during their walk or hike including rolling hills and wooded areas.


There are plenty of trails that cater to all levels of fitness and experience making it an excellent place for families with young children and those looking for a more relaxed pace.

Tourist attractions near or on the river


There are several tourist attractions near or on River Tamar that provide visitors with opportunities to learn more about local history and culture.


The Calstock Arts Centre hosts regular live music events featuring both local and international artists throughout the year, while Morwellham Quay Museum offers a glimpse into what life was like in Devon's mining industry during its peak years.

Visitors can also explore historical landmarks such as the Cotehele House and Gardens, which dates back to the 15th century, or the Buckland Abbey, which was once home to Sir Francis Drake.


There is also a range of restaurants along the river where visitors can sample the local cuisine while taking in beautiful views of the river and its surroundings

Modern Development Along River Tamar


Infrastructure development around the river for tourism purposes


The River Tamar has become a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and historic significance.


As a result, several infrastructure projects have been developed along its banks to cater to the needs of the increasing number of visitors. These include accommodation options such as hotels, lodges, and campsites.

There are also many restaurants, cafes, and bars that offer delicious local cuisine to tourists. In addition to these developments, there are also several adventure sports companies that offer kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and fishing trips on the river.

The area is becoming more accessible with improved roads and public transportation services connecting major towns along the river. All these developments have contributed positively to the local economy by providing employment opportunities as well as boosting tourism revenue.

Environmental concerns due to human activities


With increased development along River Tamar come environmental concerns due to human activities such as pollution and habitat destruction.


Human settlements along the riverbanks have resulted in indiscriminate dumping of waste into the river which affects water quality and aquatic life in turn. Increased vehicle traffic near the riverbanks can lead to soil erosion that causes sedimentation in water bodies leading to siltation causing environmental harm.

Another issue is non-native plant species being introduced into this habitat leading them spread aggressively taking over native vegetation while threatening biodiversity including animal habitats. Deforestation for construction or agricultural purposes threatens native animals by destroying their habitats.

Future plans for sustainable development


To tackle these environmental challenges caused by human activities while ensuring continued economic benefits from tourism revenue generated around River Tamar will require careful management of development projects including infrastructure development like building dams or constructing other manmade structures that could impact wildlife habitats or interrupt natural water flow patterns.


Sustainable eco-tourism practices should be promoted through the development of ecologically sustainable tourism activities to limit the negative environmental impacts which will help ensure the region remains an attractive destination for generations to come.

Encouraging locals in eco-friendly practices and providing education on the conservation of biodiversity is also crucial. To achieve sustainable development goals, there is a need for effective collaboration between the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local communities, and other stakeholders.



The River Tamar is an essential part of the region, as it has played a significant role in shaping its history, culture, and economy.


This article has provided an in-depth look at the geographical features of the river, the rich ecosystem it supports, its historical significance to the area, as well as its recreational and modern development potential.

The river is not only a valuable resource but also a fragile one that needs to be protected through responsible management practices and sustainable development initiatives.


The importance of conservation efforts cannot be overstated, especially given that human activity can have detrimental impacts on biodiversity.

Despite these challenges, there are reasons for optimism about the future of River Tamar.


With ongoing environmental protection measures and plans for sustainable development practices in place, we can ensure that this remarkable natural resource will continue to provide economic benefits while preserving its heritage and ecological significance for generations to come with the River Tamar.