Making molehills out of mountains

The distinctive rocks known as the ‘Bude Formation’, covering much of north Devon and northernmost Cornwall, are best exposed in the magnificent cliffs and are best viewed from the sea. However there is one quite stunning location where the results of the forces of nature can be equally enjoyed from the landward side; Widemouth Bay, Bude.

The Upper Carboniferous rocks at Widemouth Bay are mostly from the Bude Sandstones and Crackington Measures (Carboniferous). These have been heavily deformed, with upright folds in the north and more horizontal folds in the south. The exposures in the northern end are typically buff-weathered sandstones, siltstones and shales from the Bude Formation that was deposited about 300 million years ago.

Part of the Bude Formation at Widemouth Bay

Part of the Bude Formation at Widemouth Bay

My photograph really doesn’t do them justice since the formations at Widemouth Bay really are quite stunning for anyone with an interest in geology. As I understand it the Bude Formation became folded some 5-10 million years after it was deposited, when Africa and Europe, riding on separate tectonic plates, collided. This occurred near the very end of ‘Carboniferous time’. The collision folded and uplifted the sediments of the Cornubian Basin, forming a mountain chain that ran east-west across Cornwall and Devon. The uplift led to erosion, mainly by rain and rivers, of the younger deposits from the top of the Bude Formation, exposing it as we see it today. In other words, the Bude Formation was once in the core of a mountain range that has since been almost entirely eroded away! Amazing when you think about it in those terms.

Widemouth Bay is well worth a visit and not just for the rocks, toward the northern end there is a large, sandy bay is marked on maps as Widemouth Sands that is a haven for castle-builders, surfers and kite-boarders alike, but don’t just take my word for it, go have a look for yourself.

Share

Viper’s-bugloss

Echium vulgare (Viper’s Bugloss or Blueweed) is a species of Echium native to most of Europe, and western and central Asia. It is also common in North America.

Described as a flamboyant plant, the viper’s-bugloss seems to belong to a hot far-away country. With rough, blue petals and red stamens that flick like tongues, its hard not to think this plant’s snake-like appearance contributed to its name. In fact, it was once used as an anti-venom for bites from the spotted viper. Neat, huh?

Viper's-blugloss (Echium vulgare)

Viper’s-blugloss (Echium vulgare)

Viper’s-blugloss or Blueweed (Echium vulgare)

Blueweed (Echium vulgare)

Blueweed (Echium vulgare)

With its upright spikes of blue flowers in dense clusters, hairy stems and narrow and pointed leaves, Viper’s-bugloss seems to attract huge numbers of bees and butterflies… that would make it a very welcome plant in my garden.

 

Share

Tilly’s luxury BedBox

So I got my Washburn back from TC Ellis Guitars this morning all reworked and nicely set-up and of course just had to get it out of the case, plug it in and give it a little play… I didn’t even think about it as I left the plush-lined case open on the floor…

Is anyone watching?

Is anyone watching?

Tilly obviously did however and proceeded to make herself at home!

Is my BedBox now :)

Is my BedBox now :)

D’you think I’ll ever get it back?

Will I ever be able to use it again?

Time will tell!

Share

Little gems

One of the things I loved about wandering on Bodmin Moor recently was coming across the occasional orchid growing amid the marshy grasses… I only photographed a couple of varieties and really should have spent more time on hands and knees capturing these little gems.

Click the images for a larger view and enjoy these stunning little flowers. :)

Share

A river runs through it

River Torridge at Bideford

River Torridge at Bideford

Make Bideford your base and you’ll be ideally situated for exploring North Devon and Exmoor, but Bideford has more going for it than that. To start with Bideford is a historic port town spanning the estuary of the River Torridge; it is also home of the Grenville family, who were so influential in British history.

The Grenvilles were lords of the manor of Bideford; they played a major role in the town’s development over the years and were instrumental in the development of the port into a major centre of trade. Admiral Sir Richard Grenville, cousin to Sir Francis Drake, is probably the best known of the Grenville clan, although his father Sir Roger Grenville was the Captain of Henry VIII’s Mary Rose when she sank in Portsmouth Harbour in 1545.

Richard began his career as a 20 year old member of parliament, but turned to soldiering and distinguished himself in the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian’s war against the Turks fought in Hungary in 1566.

In 1569 Grenville arrived in Ireland where, among other things, he served as Sheriff of Cork.

In 1574 Grenville submitted a proposal to the Privy Council to take a single ship to plunder Spanish treasure ships and plant colonies in South America and from there to sail across the ‘South Sea’ in hope of finding a short cut to the Spice Islands and ‘terra australis incognita’.

In 1585, Grenville was admiral of the seven-strong fleet that brought English settlers to establish a military colony on Roanoke Island, off the coast of modern North Carolina in North America. He returned to Roanoke in 1586 to find that the surviving colonists had departed with Drake. Grenville left 15 of his own men to defend Raleigh’s New World territory.

In 1588 Grenville again distinguished himself, this time in the fight against the ‘invincible’ Spanish Armada.

In 1591 Grenville was appointed Vice-Admiral of the Fleet under Thomas Howard and was charged with maintaining a squadron at the Azores to waylay the return to Spain of the South American Spanish treasure fleets. He took as his flagship HMS Revenge, a ship of new design, later considered to be a masterpiece of naval construction. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson in his work The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet romanticised the last of Sir Richard Grenville’s battles: “Out-gunned, out-fought, and out-numbered fifty-three to one“, Grenville was said to have wished to blow up his ship rather than give up the fight.

But enough of Grenville’s personal history. By the 16th century Bideford had become Britain’s third largest port. Sir Walter Raleigh landed his first shipment of tobacco here, although, contrary to popular belief, he was not the first to import tobacco to England. Bideford was heavily involved in the transport of indentured servants to the New World colonies and was also heavily involved in the Newfoundland cod trade; some 28 Bideford vessels with a combined tonnage of 3860 tons were involved in this practise in the year 1700.

East the Water is less commercial than the main part of the town on the west of The Torridge and is well worth a look. I particularly enjoyed the waterfront.

East the Water

East the Water

A bridge spanning the River Torridge and connecting the East and West of the town was said to have been built out of timber in the year 1286. In 1474 the original structure was replaced by the masonry arch bridge, known as The Long Bridge, seen today.

The Long Bridge

The Long Bridge

 

West Bideford retains many charming aspects from its past, including some very narrow streets, alleys and wynds. Something else I found charming was the number of independent shops that have survived in the town. Oh yes there are some chain stores, but even they have, for the most part, retained the traditional flavour of the town.

Shopping in Bideford

Shopping in Bideford

Shopping in Bideford

Shopping in Bideford

Bideford also has a few remarkable administrative buildings; the Town Hall in particular caught my eye.

Bideford Town Hall

Bideford Town Hall

To appreciate Charles Kingsley’s description of “The Little White Town which slopes upward from its broad river tide” make sure you approach this ancient port and market town from “East the Water” and cross the ancient Long Bridge which spans the River Torridge… you’ll be glad you did. :)

Share

A grand day out

We took one my guitars down to TCEllis for a little tweaking this morning and decided, since we were in the area and the tides were right, we’d drive on down to Swanbridge for a walk out to Sully Island.

It’s been a while since I last walked out to the island; Sully Island is only an island twice a day when the tide covers the land-bridge, it is one of 43 tidal islands around the coast of the UK.

Swanbridge from Sully Island

Swanbridge from Sully Island

There isn’t much to Sully Island, it only covers 14 acres. Still it’s a nice little place to wander around and explore and it does have a somewhat mixed history.

I guess Sully’s main claim to fame dates back to the 13th century when the island was the base for “Alfredo De Marisco”, a Norman pirate known locally as “The Night Hawk”. No signs of old Alfredo these days of course, but there’s a very nice pub on the Swanbridge shore called the Captain’s Wife where you can get a very nice lunch. :)

The Captain's Wife

The Captain’s Wife

All in all it made for a grand day out 

 

Share

A touch of ambivalence

Over the years I have photographed many a rusty object for my Rusty Usky gallery and I’m still adding to the collection. I spotted this object sticking out of the sand while walking the beach at Northam Burrows.

Yet another Rusty Usky

Yet another Rusty Usky

As to what this particular piece of rusty metal is I’m in two minds… it could be part of some ill-fated vessel or other, or it might just be part of a metal frame.

Rusty Detail

Rusty Detail

Whatever its origin, this object is rusting beautifully in the salty environment of Northam Burrows. Ambivalent to its beginnings I might be, but I like it… and yes I did paddle into the sea to photograph it. :lol:

Share

Room to roam

A couple of miles outside of Bideford you’ll find the Northam Burrows Country Park, which lies at the edge of the Taw Torridge Estuary in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Northam Burrows is a Site of Special Scientific Interest comprising around 250 hectares of grassy coastal plain with salt marsh, sand dunes and generally unimproved grasslands. The Burrows also provides one of the access points for the two miles of Westward Ho! Beach, but more importantly to us the beach at Northam Burrows itself is dog friendly and so an ideal place to head for with Tilly.

The beach at Northam Burrows with Westward Ho! to the far left

The beach at Northam Burrows with Westward Ho! to the far left

Northam Burrows is, understandably given the large amount of open space, a popular spot with both local dog walkers and visitors to the area. However I was amazed at how few seem to venture onto the beach itself with its beautifully firm sand stretching almost as far as the eye can see. It’s true to say our visit didn’t coincide with the height of the tourist season, but even so it was early July and given the excellent weather I had expected more people to be about. Tilly didn’t complain though, she had plenty to occupy her and the added bonus of the occasional canine meeting meant she was well happy with the location.

Playtime - where do I run to first?

Playtime – where do I run to first?

As you can see from the above there were other walkers on the beach, but they were certainly few and far between… look carefully, you’ll spot about a dozen people! :lol:

I’m not planning on revisiting the Bideford area, but you can rest assured when I am next in that part of the world I shall be paying another visit to the beach at Northam Burrows.

 

Share

Tilly dines out

One of the things I’ve always loved about visiting British beaches is rock-pooling… I’m always fascinated by the variety of life to be found in those microcosms that are rock pools. I’m happy to say the coastal waters around this island of mine are obviously in a reasonably healthy state, judging by the abundance of life on show. Just parting the beautifully coloured sea weeds in any of the pools we found on Northcott Mouth Beach revealed small fish and crustaceans and the rocks themselves were covered with some of the largest winkles I’d ever seen…

I admit I was sorely tempted to gather a couple of dozen winkles for my dinner since they are something I haven’t eaten in a very long time, but I had nothing to carry them in and the thought of the little darlings crawling around the boot of my car was not something I’d welcome. Tilly was obviously impressed by the local wildlife too, though not by the winkles. She found herself a tasty little crab and carried it off to a patch of sand to inspect it.

Tilly snags a crab

Tilly snags a crab

The crab must have met with Tilly’s approval… she gobbled it down shell and all!

Tilly eats her catch

Tilly eats her catch

Nothing quite like an impromptu snack on a day out is there?

Share

Northcott Mouth Beach

Just a couple of miles outside Bude you’ll find Northcott Mouth Beach, a real dog friendly beach. Dogs are welcomed here 24/7 the year round and believe me there’s plenty of space for them to run around and have fun.

At first glance, the beach is not that friendly a place, especially near high-tide. It is certainly ruggedly beautiful and gives access to the North Cornwall and North Devon coastal path. The beach itself is comprised of pebbles beyond high water, dropping to sand and pebble, then sand and rock. As the tide withdraws more and more sand is exposed providing a large open area for dogs and families to have their fun. The official guide tells us there is a sloping path from the Northcott Mouth car park to the beach (takes 1-2 minutes to walk). What the guide doesn’t say is there is ample parking provided by the National Trust, who also provide an honesty box for the parking fee (£2:00 per car per day).

Northcott Mouth Beach

Northcott Mouth Beach

We arrived as the tide was receding and followed the water as more and more beach was exposed. Tilly had wonderful fun exploring the sandy channels between the rocks and the rock pools that formed as the tide dropped. She also did a little doggy style mountaineering, which allowed her to pose as the great explorer observing the vista as it opened up before her.

The Lookout

The Lookout

My advice to any dog owner visiting the Bude area would be to seek out Northcott Mouth Beach… your dog will love it!

 

Share