Cornwall Rivers Project involves a programme of work across 15 river catchments in Cornwall, ranging from the Neet & Strat in the north east to the Cober catchment in the south west of the county.

For information on individual catchments click on the interactive map below or select one of the links from the menu on the left of your screen. For general information on Cornwall's environment, please see below.

Cober and Loe Pool Fal and Tresillian Neet and Strat Camel and Allen Fowey and Lerryn East and West Looe Seaton Lynher and Tiddy Inny Ottery River Menalhyl River Gannel River White River Mevagissey River Caerhays

Cornish Geography

Some general information on Cornwall's environment:

Geology - Broadly speaking, Cornwall consists of four granite moorlands surrounded by an almost uninterrupted cliff coastline extremely hostile to shipping. The four moorlands are Bodmin Moor, the St Austell highlands, Carnmenellis between the Fal estuary and St Ives, and the St Just uplands north of Lands End. Many of Cornwalls rivers find their headwaters in these moorland areas, particularly Bodmin Moor which forms the birth place of the Camel, Fowey, Lynher, Inny and Ottery. Cornwall reaches its highest point at Brown Willy (420m) on Bodmin Moor, not as high as some of the peaks on Dartmoor (600m+) in neighbouring Devon but high enough to view the whole county, except certain river valleys and small areas hidden behind the other moors.

Cornwall's geology is famous for harbouring significant metaliferous and clay deposits which, not surprisingly, lead to a thriving mining industry developing in the county. For example, much The St Austell granite mass became 'kaolinized' at some point in geological time to produce china clay deposits which have been extensively exploited by man over the last 200 years producing gleaming white spoil heaps in the process. The Carnmenellis moor is notable for the number of its veins of tin, many of which extend beyond the granite into the adjacent slate. In many instances, weathering of the veins in the past gave rise to alluvial tin deposits in the beds of rivers and streams which began to be extracted by man as long ago as the Bronze Age. Of minerals locked in the Cornish geology, tin is the best known but copper, iron, lead, gold, silver, arsenic, wolfram, manganese, zinc and even uranium are all present - the greatest variety of minerals in one area anywhere in the UK.

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Landscape - Cornwalls landscape is characterised by large areas of pastureland and a small amount of arable in addition to granite moors covered with heather, rough grass, boulders (notably in west Penwith) and bog flora. Woodland, except along the river valleys, is extremely sparse with less than 5% of Cornwall's total land mass being populated by woodland habitat. On the coast, high cliffs occupy much of the coastline which is punctuated by a profusion of islets, stacks, coves and bays. The coastal landscape also contains some lowland stretches, sometimes backed by large expanses of towans or dunes such as on the south coast near Par.

Because of Cornwall's configuration, rivers are short compared with elsewhere in the UK, the longest rivers in Cornwall being the Tamar (94km), the Camel (50km) and the Fowey (35km). An intriguing feature of many Cornish rivers is the disproportionate size of their estuaries; for example the combined Looes, the Hayle, the Camel and the Fowey open out in their lower reaches in a way suggesting far longer waterways than exist in reality. Another feature of many Cornish rivers is their intrinsic beauty with rivers such as the tiny River Valency receiving the attention of poet Thomas Hardy due to its innate charm and individuality.

Wetlands form an intrinsic and functionally extremely important part of Cornwall's landscape, ranging from soligenious and valley mires on Bodmin Moor ( e.g Draynes valley and Cardinham moor) to intertidal saltmarsh wetlands such as those situated just south of Lostwithiel (Shire Hall mire and Maderley Moor). Goss Moor, the source of the river Fal, supports the largest inland wetland in Cornwall, and is a mosaic of dry and wet heath, mires and willow scrub. A particularly interesting feature of Cornwall's wetland landscape is the Culm grassland found in the north of the county. Culm is a wet grassland habitat rich in rare species of flora and fauna, such as the marsh fritillary butterfly, which unfortunately has been extensively drained since the 1960's threatening many of the species reliant on it.

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Climate - The climate within Cornwall demonstrates significant variation across the county. In general, the North West coast is colder than the southern coastline. The warmest districts are the Isles of Scilly and West Cornwall with more than 1700 day degrees centigrade. Here, plant growth ceases for only a few days each winter and on average there are more than 250 frost free days.

In terms of rainfall, East Cornwall gets least rain -85cm at Bude - the Centre receives the most – 126cm at Bodmin – whilst in the West, the figures fall again to 110cm at Falmouth. Rainfall in Cornwall demonstrates a strongly cyclical pattern (most falls October-January) in contrast to counties further East where rainfall is relatively evenly distributed throughout the year.

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Flora & Fauna - Cornwall's mild and warm climate supports a rich vegetation cover, including subtropical species such as palms in the southern bays. Gorse and heathers have populated much of the moors and the northern cliffs, whilst ferns, mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi are abundant across the county, some of them exotic species introduced from abroad. In the wettest reaches of Bodmin moor, sphagnum or bog moss can be found.

Cornwall supports many rare flower species, particularly within the southern Lizard Peninsula with its very individual serpentine and soil profile. Here it is possible to find Cornish heath, mesembryanthemums, butchers broom, early meadow grass and a plethora of clovers including the large lizard clover, brookweed, yellow wallpepper and many more. The North Cornwall Coast has maritime grassland, heathland and stunted woodland of high biological value and of national and international ecological significance.

In terms of fauna, the coastal waters contain large populations of seals whilst porpoises and whales are not uncommon. Cornish waters also boast good shark populations, which has given rise to a thriving sport fishery for species such as Mako and Porbeagle. The broad tidal estuaries support large numbers of wading birds whilst marshland bird species frequent the inland bogs and mires, Bodmin moor being a breeding ground for lapwing, snipe and curlew. On the rivers, sand martins and kingfishers can often be seen whilst otters are returning in significant numbers since a decline in the 1960s and 70s. Water voles still exist in Cornwall, with the Bude Canal offering ideal habitat for this species, although - as in many other counties - populations have suffered serious impacts in recent years due to habitat degradation and pollution.

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