Island Life U.K.
We are an island nation, in some part having this water all the way around us forms our personality. It never takes more than a few hours to get to the coast, likely why we love it so much. This post is about my Island life. Even whilst living in sunny Milton Keynes it thrilled me that I could catch trains to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire for example and be walking up on Carn Ingli above the Newport bay within a daytime. Over the last 7 years Ive been travelling to Scotland my Falconers homeland to enjoy the outdoors and on 3 of those years competing in the Scottish 6 days event, where we race a separate event 6 times over a week in the best wild places to be found. Closer to home now in the lovely Poolemouth conurbation, theres something been stimulating my curiosity Ill share with you here. Started to wonder how the coastline in U.K has been christened with placenames, specifically our own Bournemouth. Living right next to the Bourne Valley Greenway, Ive written before about the origins of this in Canford Heath, which feeds down to the sea in the Bourne Stream. Something piqued my interest which was how can we be called Bournemouth for such a little stream of water, well its not exactly a big river is it?

Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis

In true cartophile style I’ve studied the atlas and written down every ‘Mouth’ place in the U.K. Enjoy this lunchtime ride around the Island. Some of these places are utterly dominated by the river, unlike Bournemouth which we may have expected to provide the ancient placename. Beginning in the South West closest to home we have Weymouth, the Wey valley. Moving west into Devon Charmouth, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Plymouth and Falmouth-big ports. East Portlemouth a smaller place here. The big rivers feed into the seas and often have large bridges over them too. Dartmoor our beloved ‘wilderness’ of the south with the highest points feeds down into Dartmouth and Teignmouth. Many memories of working at Okehampton on the edge of northern Dartmoor in 2005, the fictional ‘Grimpen Pond’ of A.Conan Doyles Hound of the Baskerville epic is based on Cranmere Pool, all the streams there turn into the big rivers mentioned. It is also where the original ‘letterbox’ is found, of course gets a mention here- ‘Letterboxing’ involving finding exact locations in the outdoors, my competitive sport Orienteering and this were around a long time before the current trend of Geocaching and GPS use. Staying west and heading further along we reach Falmouth, Widemouth on the border of Cornwall and Lynemouth next to Linton, both those places as you might know in deep valleys of some difficulty to navigate around. The major amount of ‘Mouths’ then all found in the South West.

Findhorn bay
Findhorn bay

If we travelled east to reach some more big ports, Portsmouth perhaps the most famous name in the U.K. for this reason. Frequency of the names reduces as you travel further up the U.K coastlines both east and west side, Avonmouth being a big one into the Bristol channel. Thereafter we reach Yarmouth in Norfolk, the fabulous river Yare which spreads out on Norfolk Broads. New Years Eve some time back I spent at the superb Reedham Ferry pub, camping outside for the night. A friend and I took a Canadian canoe for the prime purpose of paddling and birdwatching on the Broads. Reedham is the remotest spot here and feeds into Breydon water, superb fun and a massive lake to get surrounded by a couple of kilometres of water each side, ace. Zooming up to the North East you reach Monkwear and the Lynemouth and Alnmouth areas- all smaller than the major port of the East- Tynemouth and its two big towns either side. I cycled across the coast to coast East to West starting here last summer, the heart of the industrial North East. A weeks bikepacking written up here. A quick dive over into Wales where I found Oystermouth, a small town just next to the Mumbles, and the well known Barmouth right in the western centre of the Country. Recall travelling up there by train on family holidays across the wide river valley bridge to stay further up in Harlech.

Moving into the Scottish section of the atlas we’ve the Eastern edge including Burnmouth, Eyemouth and Grangemouth. Moving around the Scottish coast a new linguistic is introduced with place names based on ‘Aber’meaning-between, and ‘Inver’ –mouth of. Aberdeen being the biggest example. On the Moray coast Lossiemouth is a familiar place to me from Orienteering and just further along theres Findhorn the meeting of the river Find, shown here in the photo I love this area. Reaching Inver-ness which is the base of the 2015 World Orienteering Champs and of course Loch Ness. Looking forward to exploring around there this summer during the Scottish 6 days which is held the same time as the Worlds for ordinary competitors like me. If you travelled down the length of Loch Ness the South West entry is via Invergarry which links well. I could find only 2 more places Inversanda and Invercreran on the Western side, there may be more smaller places in the Glens I missed so sorry if this isn’t perfect. Over on Western Scotland the Ullapool port is the furthest north Ive ever been in 2010. Started the ‘Great Tour’ ride here down to Ayr near Glasgow, a great round Britains coastline ride, hope to be lucky enough to do something like that again sometime. clips here and here

More maps, Ive just picked up the new “Brittania Obscura” book, ‘mapping Hidden Britain’ by Joanne Parker which outlines the ways that our islands are represented and in ways only seen by the likes of pilots, cavers and Megalith hunters. Looking forward to getting into that read. I hope youre curiosity about the Bournemouth name place has been satisfied and my spin around the U.K s river mouths has been an enjoyable read, brightening up January, do leave comments. Thanks to Jason Murphy for the Findhorn Photo.

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  1. Pingback:World Orienteering Champs/ Scottish 6 days 2015

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