6 – Malpas, Tourism, Pinned to pontoon
Malpas was the furthest upriver I wanted to take the boat. Any further and we would need a quay to lean against when the tide fell – possible, but not necessary on this trip.
The visitors’ pontoon had 1 metre at low water springs – we were still at the neap end of the tides and there would be no problem with Blue Mistress’ 1.3 metre draft. As it happened, I had a problem leaving it the following morning but that was to do with tidal flow rather than depth.
Malpas is on the convergence of the Truro River and the Tresillian River – a row of homes and, I guess, second homes, a large block of apartments with a private dock on the riverside,
a good pub and, most importantly, a small boatyard. There are deep water moorings in the Truro River below the junction
and also into the Tresillian River.
Above that the moorings dry. I hauled the dinghy out of the forepeak, inflated it on the pontoon and rowed ashore for a meal at The Heron Inn – a wander, exploration and exercise.
The setting is splendid. I wonder at the contrasts Cornwall offers. I am not used to river navigation. This scenery is about as far removed from my native Bude, and particularly Steeple Point, as is possible.
Tourism – so important to this county as well as to many, many other places, creates an abbreviated view of an area. By definition, it is a service provided to visitors who come for a week or two or three and then leave. After a while, a touristic veneer is laid down, which exposes standardised parts to view but inevitably veils the whole. Apart from its natural features, the character of a place is created by the generations who have come before, those whose lives were far removed from the quick-view of the tourist. For me, Cornwall is defined by generations of fishermen, miners and small farmers. Yes, Carew’s ‘gentlemen’s commodious seats’ are dotted across the county, and there are many Cornishmen who have achieved great success, but the worth of the county comes as much from those who worked its coasts, harvested its fields, extracted its resources. Forget sentiment, it is the ‘whole’ that makes the place – warts and all.
I liked Malpas. It really does ‘hang over the river like a dream’. I looked for signs of the older Cornwall and found them in the row of cottages,
the traces of old quays
- but above all recognised them as still with us in the river banks, the mud flats and the ebb and flow of the tide, those same features that have been part of the daily pattern for generations.
The next morning I directly experienced the ebb tide flowing across the mud out of the Tresillian River. It pinned the boat against the pontoon and I spent a futile ten minutes trying to leave before I gave up to wait for the flow to ease. A ‘school-boy error’, I had arrived on the flood tide and failed to gauge the effect of the ebb tide when I would be due to leave. Had I moored the other side of the pontoon I would have avoided the problem. On the other hand mud flats were close to the pontoon on the Truro River side and the strength of the tide was such that I wonder whether there may have been a chance of being swept onto them on the falling tide before I got enough momentum to get away. I shall never know. I appreciated the help I had in pushing the bows off when the time came. I didn’t catch your name but thank you again.
(Images by Bill Whateley)