The British Landscape Club

Lay-by of the week: King Harry Ferry

Not strictly a lay-by in any sense of the word - more a place you may find yourself in one of the most picturesque traffic queues in the world: the western side of the upper reaches of the River Fal, waiting to board the King Harry Ferry to the Roseland peninsula.

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The River Fal is itself a drowned river valley or, to give it its GCSE name, a ria - formed when sea levels rose at the end of the last glaciation (of the so-far-as-we-know current Ice Age). Unique habitats are created in rias; all the estuarine mud is miles upstream and the overhanging trees at the water’s edge offer sheltering opportunities for birds and insects. Quite apart from its natural history and beauty, the drowned river valley has other uses; the ria is very deep, deep enough to park a couple of cargo ships half a dozen miles inland, as the following picture shows.


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