The Legend of Tamara

River Tamar under Tamar Bridge

The story of three rivers: Tamar, the Tavy and the Taw.

In a cave deep beneath the ground an earth nymph was born to two earth spirits. They called the child Tamara and she grew to be radiant to look at and bubbling in spirit.

Now, the life underground was not suited to a light hearted nymph and as she grew older Tamara began to explore. One day, she found herself above ground and unusual for her kind Tamara adored the sunshine. Taking every opportunity she was given, Tamara took herself along the earthen passages to new destinations above ground.

Best of all she liked the moors where the sun was high and bright. Living in the moors at that time were many giants. Tamara's parents hated and feared the giants for they were rough and wild.

Two young giant brothers called Tavy and Tawrage spotted Tamara out exploring the moors and they both decided she was to be theirs. Tamara spent some days teasing the two giants. Running into sight and then disappearing on a chase across the moors. One day the two brother giants came across Tamara napping under a bramble bush at Morwenstow and sat down either side of her trapping Tamara between them. You would perhaps think it would be terrifying for an earth nymph to wake up between two huge giants,but Tamara loved the attention and played along with their game. Tavy and Tawrage were serious about Tamara as both had fallen in love with her, they vowed to keep her there until she had made a choice between them. The three sat laughing together as dusky clouds rolled down across the moors.

Tamara's parents missed her bright laugh and set out to seek her. Seeing his daughter with the giants made her father growl with anger at his most hated enemies. Try as he did, Tamara would not be persuaded to come home to their rich, dark cavern. Anger burst from him,and rather than let his daughter marry a giant he cursed her to turn into a river of water flowing always to the sea. Crying Tamara melted before her father and her tears carried her on her first following to the sea.

When Tavy woke up, he ran heartbroken to his father. The giant understood his son's grief would not heal. He transformed Tavy into a stream, running beside Tamara. Tavy would seek her always, running along by her side.

Tawrage woke late, realising what had occurred he ran to an enchanter in the hills. The enchanter changed Tawrage into a stream like his brother. But in his desperation to catch up and find Tamara, Tawrage took a wrong direction, and was forced to run away from her always. Tawrage, Tavy and Tamara still flow from the moors all the way to the sea - but now we call them Taw, Tavy and Tamar.

retold by Anna Chorlton

  • Saltash