Ria D’Etel … finding the source

With plans for a crossing to the Glennan Archipelago defeated by the weather an opportunity arose to discover the source of the River D’Etel.

We quickly discovered that the Etel is quite short, and is fed by both the Riviere de Landévant and the Goah Gouillerm, the aerial photo suggested there was likely to be more water in the Gouillerm and having the town of Nostang nearby also gave us better options to access the water.

We discovered a wide shallow stream leading out of the town centre which ran alongside an enormous car park, it suited us fine, we did think we may have to walk a little along the shallow bed.

Preparations were quick and easy and we started our trip in bright sunshine

The previous evening we walked down to the tidal section of the river, we found enormous mud flats with a small channel of water snaking its way along.

We were leaving at high water and expected to return a few hours earlier than the next high water, we had a neap tide and the following was going to be smaller. In case we ran out of water for the return we found an alternative exit point on the main river alongside a bridge in the town.

At high water the mud flats were flooded, it looked completely different.  Making our way south, we saw many Cormorants and Egrets, there was a kingfisher too by the stream.

A little further on we came across the ostréiculteurs , the people that cultivate the oysters. The estuary is famous for its oysters, and is an important industry in the region which last year was under threat by the grounding at Erdevan of the Cargo ship TK Bremen.
The ship was eventually dismantled in just 10 days pollution was minimal and quickly cleaned.

Long flat motor barges are used to collect the oyster sacks from the beds in the estuary.

After entering the Etel, we were once again on familiar territory, we could see the scenic town of Saint Cado and made our way into the interior of the causeway.The church behind the fountain was built by St Cado a Welsh Monk who fled to this small island in the 6th c.

We enjoyed lunch at Saint Cado after which time the Estuary was emptying rapidly, with time to explore one more creek on the far side.  It really is quite wild and a haven for birds, many Gulls, Egrets and even Spoonbills were seen

Even on a neap tide the ebb was running at about 7 knots, we flew down the stream towards the bridge Pont Lerois, on a big spring tide the speed increases to 9 knots but the additional volume of water moving creates a much more difficult environment. Whirlpools form quite randomly and will pull the rear deck of a sea kayak under, boils erupt spinning the kayak off course.

We finished our trip just past the Pont Lerois where the currents slow down as the Estuary opens up.  We had a little more play in the currents under the bridge before returning back up the estuary to Nostang.


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