Exeter Canal

At only 5 miles long, the Exeter Canal is short and sweet, and was designed to allow ship access to the centre of the city from the Exe estuary. The first post-Roman canal to be built in the 1550s, this ancient waterway is today much visited by walkers, joggers, and hordes of cyclists. We kept to the towpath to avoid most of the speedy traffic, and took advantage of a warm still autumn day to enjoy the ambience, and especially the profusion of late wildflowers and fruits. Most striking was the glossy mahogany of the reed flowers, just at their peak of perfection.

Apart from the flowers depicted here, I saw hemp agrimony, tansy, hogweed, fleabane, rosebay and probably several others, rushes and sedges, as well as woody shrubs including briar, rose and hawthorn. (Don’t you love the English names of wildflowers? So whimsical, even if not very helpful for identification!)

I forgot to look at the leaves of the umbellifer so can’t identify it – but as there are several poisonous waterside varieties, perhaps that is no bad thing.

We also saw some waterbirds – most spectacularly a swan coming in to land (behind the reeds so no photos!), but also herons and cormorants flying overhead, swallows,  and some very noisy black-headed gulls squabbling at Turf Locks.

What I didn’t see was many insects – surprisingly, despite buddleia bushes and lots of blackberries. A solitary greenbottle and a dragonfly, and that was all.

Center map