My encounters with flora at the tide’s reach. Part 2.

Jun 2, 2020 | Blog

Exton to the Mouth of the Clyst

We parked bikes at Exton Station, and walked back under the railway line which is passable at most times of the tide other than high tide, out northwards onto the Estuary.  The walled railway embankment exhibited some typical estuarine flora: Sea Beet, Sea Plantain and Biting Stonecrop.

Biting Stonecrop

Sea Beet: This is edible- the smaller leaves are best. It has red-striped stems and slender flower spikes. ( Flowers: Jun-Sep)

Sea Plantain: Has narrow fleshy leaves with flower spikes similar to its meadow cousin- Ribwort Plantain.    Edible  ( Flowers: Jun-Sep)

Biting Stonecrop: Low growing,with green succulent leaves bearing star shaped yellow flowers. ( Flowers: May-Jul)

The reed beds ahead revealed a pathway, near to  the embankment. The grasses here are of at least two types; 

Sedge: This species has a triangular stem and grows to about a metre tall

Common Reed grass: Very tall  hollow, golden stems. It has large, feathery, flower spikes appearing dark purple, fading to brown as the spikelets (containing the flowers) grow bristles.

Making our way along, we started to notice the plastic flotsam and jetsam, washed up and trapped at the high tide line. We saw some very large pieces including two very large “bread” trays, impossible to move.

On our right, the luxurious estuary-facing properties come to an end and here we found examples of Yellow Iris and swathes of Orache species.

Orache with Shield bug eggs 

Orache: Spear-Leaved Orache has so-called mealy leaves and has small red flowers on spikes in mid-summer ( Flowers: Jul-Oct)

Further on, we reached a stopping point where a bench provided a perch to contemplate the mudflats stretching out before us and great views down the river.

Just near here, we found examples of Greater Sea Spurrey– a delicate five- petalled plant with fleshy leaves, typical of salt tolerant flora. Nearby there was the equally delicate Sea Milkwort.

Greater Sea Spurrey 

Greater Sea Spurrey:  Flowers are tinged with pink and white in the centre. The leaves are fleshy. ( Flowers: May-Sep)

Sea Milkwort: Small pink-centred flowers with fleshy leaves. It can exude a milky sap and that is possibly the origin of the common name. ( Flowers: May-Aug)

Setting off northwards, we crossed a wooden footbridge and continued following the wavy path through the tall reeds. There are number of different options here, a bit like a maze, but eventually we got to the end of the trek. There, boats are moored (some abandoned) and with care ( wellingtons essential) we reached the edge of the reeds, just where the River Clyst exits onto the main body of the Estuary.

There are other examples of estuarine plants as you explore around the estuary including  Samphire, Sea Purslane, tidal grasses, and Scurvygrass.

Nearer to Exmouth there is evidence of our changing climate evidenced by the estuary wall which looks as though it has been breached by winter storms. This is only a small stretch, but at Exmouth itself, there are extensive works to raise  the level of the coastal defences. Rising sea levels and the greater incidence of damaging storms are predicted to increase the flooding potential in and around the estuary and seafront.

Recent works on Dawlish Warren have also been completed to attempt to shore up the beach and dune systems. However, recent winter weather has exposed the engineered “sausage” that was embedded at the head of the beach. Does this highlight a worrying trend?  Will Dawlish Warren succumb to rising sea levels and more intense storms?

Will the river eventually head straight to sea through the breached Warren, and, if so, how will that alter the ecology and geography of the Exe Estuary?

Heath Nickels

High Water: Tides, Climate, Oceans and The Exe estuary

High Water: Tides, Climate, Oceans and The Exe estuary

HIGH WATER EVENT: 30 March 2021 Sarah Cameron Sunde Tidelines partnered with Art-earth and Low Carbon Devon to run the High Water event where 60 artists and scientists and others from all round the Uk and the world talked about their work and relation to the oceans,...

read more
Big Thanks You to boxers!

Big Thanks You to boxers!

Thank you so much to everyone around the estuary who has responded to the Exe estuary box challenge and returned boxes to us! We are so grateful for the time you have taken to share your maps, your questions, your thoughts and your creativity all about the estuary...

read more
Topsham to Lympstone Part 6 of Jon Seal’s 7 part film.

Topsham to Lympstone Part 6 of Jon Seal’s 7 part film.

  Film 5 of 7: Turf to Exeter https://youtu.be/7EFDs1wwt_I Jon's 6th film starts with a drenching and brightens up as he follows the little-trodden shoreline of the Exe estuary. This section of the Exe has forgotten boats and crackling reed beds that collect enormous...

read more
Birds on the Exe tide line

Birds on the Exe tide line

Matt Knot writes about the birds he sees on the Exe estuary and surrounding area on his website: http://gobirdingexmouth.blogspot.com/. Here you can find out not just about the birds but also much more besides including moths, butterflies and wildflowers. His...

read more
Reading Water

Reading Water

  We've been talking for a while with Naomi about her ideas to create a project around the HMS Terror and its history and how its stories finds resonances today weaving into climate narratives and stories that connect us through the oceans to other parts of the world....

read more
High Water March 30, Free event tickets now from Eventbrite

High Water March 30, Free event tickets now from Eventbrite

High Water: sharing our connections to the tides Tuesday March 30, from 08.45 - 22.00 BST/UTC, online Over 50 people are sharing stories about the sea and in particular the high tide connecting Exmouth to others around the UK and the world.  There will be readings,...

read more
Exeter – a tidal city

Exeter – a tidal city

M5 bridge. Andy Thatcher Exeter - a tidal city. The tide sneaks in and out of Exeter. To catch it, you have to be around the Exe between Trew's Weir and the Medieval bridge at Bridge Road, and pay close attention. A high tide can spill amongst the pylons through...

read more
The Last Salmon Boat

The Last Salmon Boat

The Last Salmon Boat by Lesley Kerman   The Last Salmon Boat For almost fifty years I could look out of my kitchen window and watch the salmon fishermen casting their net in the River below. In rain, in sun, by day and night the rhythmic sound of their boat being...

read more
The Map Room

The Map Room

This is a a gallery of maps submitted as part of the Mapping the Exe invitation or from the Exe Estuary Box.  Please draw your own and upload them to me and I will put them on the gallery. Maps can be anything. It is about how you experience the Exe estuary or...

read more
Tidelines Around the Exe Estuary: A new film in 7 parts

Tidelines Around the Exe Estuary: A new film in 7 parts

Around the Exe – a series of short films. Around the Exe is a series of short films which attempt to capture images and sound from Dawlish Warren to Exeter and back down to Exmouth. Every two weeks a new film will be added and a kind of journey around this remarkable...

read more