There are many many famous river confluences around the world with their dramatic clash of colours and I am pleased to add a little Cornish stream to the likes of the Nile, Mosel, Rhine, Colorado and Yangtze. Ladies and gentleman I give you the Gwydyn Rudh River, look at me, making up river names AND in a foreign language. Well, foreign to me, not to the river.
So here we have the perfect example of two of Cornwall’s famous river colours.
White Rivers. There are lots of white rivers in the St Austell area because of the heavy clay deposits in the hills around St Austell. The main St Austell river, dramatically named St Austell River, is also nicknamed the White River because in the past it would often flow pure white as it carried the clay deposits down to the sea; as the rivers deposited into the sea, large white fans would delta out into the blue waters. Even nowadays when the china clay industry has dwindled to a shadow of its former self the local rivers still run white during very heavy rain.
Red Rivers. Our other colour of choice for rivers in Cornwall, is red. Some are red from natural iron and mineral deposits throughout our geologically rich county, some run red from tin streaming deposits, others run red from the rust from abandoned underground mine workings, built to extract the riches. Redruth is even named after the colour of its river. In fact, as “ruth” comes from the Cornish “rudh”, for red, it’s Red squared!(1)
Great examples of white rivers from the clay deposits, and red rivers caused by tin streaming, can be seen in the Kings Wood section of the Pentewan Walk in my Mevagissey Walks book.
Anyway back to my lovely little stream. It’s up in the heart of the clay trails, and it always flows red and white but during constant heavy rain, and to be honest, what other sort do we have? the river really pumps out the two colours. I haven’t decided to include it in my next set of walks as its a little tricky to find but its a great thing to see. Or at least I like it 🙂
- It seems apt that a blog about two things becoming one should also include tautological place names. When two cultures collide sometimes they can’t make their mind up which name to use and in the height of utter laziness they just use both.
River Avon = river / river = English / Welsh
Redruth= red / red = English / Cornish
Torpenhow Hill = Hillhillhill Hill = Various English dialects
Fore Street = Street / street – Cornish / English