Wacker Quay

The other day we decided to take the van out for a run so that when the lock down is finally over it will start. Our plan was simply to drive to the A38 roundabout from where you can go to Liskeard, Plymouth or Catchfrench, of which a little more later, turn round and come back. However, instead of returning via Crafthole we went through Sheviock and on towards Antony, just for a variation. On our left, while driving along the line of the river Lynher, we saw a sign to Wacker Quay. It’s the site of a quay in the nineteenth century, and as it turned out the start of a shortish walk to Antony, just over a mile long. Fortuitously, this made our expedition entirely within the rules, as we walked for longer than we drove…

Wacker Quay started life in the nineteenth century, or possibly the late eighteenth, as an agricultural dock and a place for unloading limestone for a nearby lime kiln. Its boom years were those of the building of the ring of forts, often known as Palmerston’s follies. We live in one – more on this in a future post.

The two nearest were Tregantle and Scraesdon, begun in 1859. In 1886 it was decided to build a military railway to transport building materials and supplies. It ran from the quay, alongside the river and then up a very steep incline to the forts. The trail only goes to Antony. Both forts are still owned by the MoD and cannot be visited. It’s difficult even to get a glimpse of Scraesdon; Tregantle can be seen easily from the road or the coast path.

Using tracks, trucks and even an engine shed originally intended for use in the rescue of General Gordon, which were shipped back to England from Egypt after the fall of Khartoum, the Royal Engineers spent seven years building a 2.5 mile railway. It was only used until 1905 because of high running costs. The route was cleared by volunteers a few years back and you can see, for instance, one of the turntables.

It was a most delightful walk. Despite it being quite a low tide on this extremely tidal river, the views across the water were tremendous.

The other thing that I particularly liked was vast expanses of wild garlic. I have been searching for this over the six weeks of our government permitted walks. A couple of weeks ago I found some in the Empacombe woods, and last week, on a slightly too long walk, I found more near Penlee Point. Both times I brought back a handful for cooking. But this beat all expectations, although by now the garlic is losing its pungency as it prepares to build up its bulbs for next year. Just look at this!

And for any-one who might not know it, here is a close-up:

A pretty star like flower and broad, fleshy, garlicky leaves. Delicious! NB, the flowers look, smell and taste gorgeous as a garnish for soup.

A final note on Catchfrench, which I had assumed was something to do with French Napoleonic War captives, many of whom spent miserable years on the ‘hulks’ on the Hamoaze, another heavily tidal river. But the name probably comes from chasse franche, or free hunting, which takes me neatly back to the fallow deer at Mount Edgcumbe, the subject of my last post, which were definitely not for hunting by ordinary people.

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