Creek: sounds of the estuary

In the Spring of 2019, we worked with Ed Jobling, collecting sound recordings from around the Estuary, mainly on Northam Burrows and also in and around Appledore and Instow. Some of these have been posted on Aproree, an international sound map and radio service, which you can access on the links below. Ed also created a series of sound compositions, which were featured in our creative walks, again shared below. One of these – A Trip to the sea, was adapted as an immersive, sensory experience.

A Trip to the Sea

The listener wears a pair of headphones and an eye mask and lies back in a chair, to relax and tune into a sound journey, which projects them into an open landscape – the skylarks are busy and the wind is up. Footsteps take them across a beach and down to the sea. Simultaneously a guide leads them through a touch tour, to investigate a range of objects and textures: bucket of sand, a handful of sheep fleece, a shell, a pile of seaweed. At the end their hands are washed and dried and they are left to slowly come back to themselves. The effect is calming, serene and stimulates memories of family holidays and other adventures.

We developed this for Braunton Visual Impairment Friendship Group and Bideford Link Services – a mental health support centre. We shared it with the public on Barnstaple High Street and for ‘Banish The Blues’ – a wellbeing day organised by social prescribing group One Barnstaple. We look forward to developing a menu of similar experiences in a range of environments…

Recording by Ed Jobling

Field Recordings on Aporee

Aporee is a global soundmap ‘dedicated to field recording, phonography and the art of listening.’ You can click onto the map and listen to sound recordings taken across the world and is a publicly accessible, collaborative project. You can even stream the sounds in order of their uploading onto the site.

To listen to the recordings, please click on the red circles to hear the sounds on this site. You can play several at the same time and hear them overlap. Alternatively, click on the red lettering ‘open on radio aporee.’ to listen to the recording on the Aporee site itself.

  • The edge of the Taw/Torridge Estuary. The recording was taken as the tide was turning, with the rhythm of the waves just beginning to gain momentum.

  • Westward Ho! beach. As the tide begins to come in, the water seems to fizz as the waves fill up small hollows that had been left in the sand as the waters receded earlier in the day.

  • Northam Burrows / Skylarks and Lambs. In spring the Burrows are teaming with life. With Skylarks on the decline in the UK, it’s wonderful to know that they are still doing well here.

  • Instow Dunes. Insects hovering, families playing on the beach – it’s as if the wind captures sounds and then they’re gone.

Instow Beach / Dog in Puddle. This ridiculous little black dog was digging away in a large puddle and at the same time attempting to catch a tennis ball that was bobbing on the surface.

Instow Beach / Rigging. I know that it doesn’t to all, but to me, sound of rope ting, ting, tinging against the mast speaks of summer holidays, baking sun and lazy days.

Sound Compositions

A Trip to the Sea was originally designed to be listened to while sat beside the Estuary. It describes a journey across grass, gravel and pebbles to get to the water’s edge. While listening to it on site (assuming your headphones are not high spec) it can be hard to distinguish between recorded and live sounds, especially the wind as it whips past your ears. And it’s hard to resist layering the action that you see in front of you, onto the experience of listening.

Skern Mud Flats Restaurant is intended to be listened while looking out on theSkern in Braunton Burrows. The piece was created from thinking about the mud flats as a banqueting suite for wading and sea birds, especially in winter, when large numbers of birds descend here from northern climes to feed on succulent worms and molluscs. Best appreciated with tea and biscuit in hand!

Distant Instow is designed to be listened to while looking across from Appledore to Instow. It features a number of sounds which were recorded throughout Instow and we challenge you to accurately pinpoint not only the sounds but also the locations in which they were recorded.

All recordings were made by Ed Jobling.