We recently had a short walk along the North Devon Coast from Sandy Cove to Mortehoe. This part of the coast is directly opposite Gower, where Aunty and I have already covered many miles. The cost here is different geology to Gower, with expansive slate formations laid down in the Devonian period. However like many areas of the Welsh coast the cliff show clear signs of massive movements moving the layers of rock almost 90 degrees. This movement can be seen clearly in the cliffs at in Lee Bay, particularly in a small cove called Sandy Cove.
Like many coastal paths the view changes each time you turn a corner. But you have to work for the views, the path dips and climbs on a regular basis and in total we climbed almost 2000ft. One of the larger beaches along this stretch is Rockham Bay, again mainly slate but layered with quartz giving the cliffs a striped appearance. On the beach, the quartz below the strand line has become stained yellow.
This part of the coast has seen its tragedy with many shipwrecks, and the evidence os still here on the beach. In 1914, on the 28th of January the S.S Collierr ran aground at Rockham Bay. Luckily all crew saved saved along with the ship’s dog, ship’s cat and pet goldfinch! The crew abandoned ship by ship’s dinghy and were rescued by the Ilfracombe Lifeboat. The ship was a total wreck, and remains can still be seen on the beach as the tide falls. Mind you we also saw salvaged parts of wrecks throughout Mortehoe later.
A little further from Rockham Bay is Bull Point and the Bull Point Lighthouse. There has been a lighthouse on the headland since 1879, after a group of local “clergy, ship-owners, merchants and landowners” appealed to Trinity House for one. But then on 18th September 1972, the Lighthouse Keeper reported ground movement in the area of the engine room and the passage leading to the lighthouse, and that two inch fissures were opening up. Then on 24 September 15 metres of the cliff face crashed into the sea causing major damage to the lighthouse. The present lighthouse was built in 1974 and automated on 1975. The cottages are now holiday lets – so if you fancy an isolated ‘get away’ this is the place.
There was plenty of wildlife along the cliffs but perhaps I’ll just add one photo of a 7-spot Ladybird on a Marsh Thistle.
We finished the walk in a tiny village of Mortehoe with a pint. Maybe more on Mortehoe later.