Steep, deep green and secret Ė thatís how temperate rainforests are imagined. Landulph is lucky: ours are easy to find and easily accessible. Landulph has all the ingredients needed for a rainforest to flourish; a warm south-westerly prevailing wind keeps our temperatures comparatively high throughout the year. We have a notoriously high rainfall, keeping our multitude of springs running through most of the year. You can find seepage from those springs almost everywhere from the high ground down towards the watercourses. Those watercourses have cut deep hollows into the ground and if the greenery in those hollows has remained untamed for a long time, thereís the chance for a rainforest to grow.
Here in Landulph, we have several forests, all slightly different (thatís `forestí in the old sense of `wild placeí rather than of acres of serried commercial conifers). In this account I focus on three widely varying sites, all of them easy to get to and inspect.
The smallest is in the hollow lane ascending from the Coombe towards Salter Mill. Clearly a steep hill cut down to help horses over the brow, the sides are near vertical, the west rough rock and soil and cloaked with thick moss. Pennywort, small ferns and other tiny plants grow here, courtesy of the water and nutrients dripping down the sphagnum-like moss.
The second and most unusual is on the Tamar foreshore. Youíll find it as you head South from the playing field towards Neal Point. It stretches for no more than a couple of hundred yards, so thereís no need for wellies; just aim for the last of any ebb tide. The tides have undercut the cliff along here. Water runs down much of the face from the fields above, in rivulets or in steady drips. Strands of ivy and bramble hang down in mid-air and there are patches of algae (these plant-names are approximate: Iím not a botanist!) in orange, sulphurous yellow and a harsh green. Best of all for me was finding a patch of what looked like minuscule watercress, close-growing and with perfect leaves the size of a pin-head. I didnít taste it, nor did I try the water, clear though it looked. The air in this close space is stuffy and a degree or two warmer than elsewhere. It can be creepy.
The third is the biggest and richest and beloved by many Landulphians. Itís the hollow at the bottom of Ziggarson, where streams meet in a complicated way and run under the road, most of the time, forming the head waters of Kingsmill Lake. The thick tangle can be gazed into from the road. A tree is almost covered in ferns growing from its trunk. What looks like two straight tree trunks is on closer inspection two columns of ivy, hanging down almost to the water from branches twenty feet high. And thick emerald moss hangs everywhere. All the photos were taken here. Deep green and secret, but there for everyone to see.
20th May 2023