Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Straight Point

Looking west to Exmouth from West Down Beacon
It was the warmest day of the year so far, so we took a walk in the Sandy Bay area. Much as I like the route via Sherbrook Chine, we thought the walk up from Budleigh would be a drag in what was rather close heat, so got off the Budleigh bus at the junction of Budleigh Road and Castle Lane here, went down Castle Lane and up the easy climb across the golf course to West Down Beacon, then turned west along the coast path to Sandy Bay, then back to Exmouth along the beach. It was visually stunning, with the gorse bushes and oilseed rape fields in flower (above).

Littleham Cove and Straight Point
Today also had the lowest tide I've ever seen at Straight Point, so at Sandy Bay we were able to explore a little the section of shore at Straight Point described in Notices of the Flowering Time and Localities of some Plants observed during an Excursion through a portion of South Devon, in June, 1851 (Edwin Lees, Esq. FLS, pp530-541, The Phytologist: a popular botanical miscellany, Volume 4, Part 2, J. Van Voorst, 1852).

A long point of sandstone extends far into the sea between Budleigh Salterton and Exmouth, after passing the highest range of cliffs; and on either side of this were some singular, secluded, deep, gloomy dens, excavated by the sea, as if intended for the perpetration of deeds of darkness. On the western side of the point the sea had so broken down the sandstone rocks, that it seemed as if a huge quarry had been excavated there, such monstrous masses lay scattered about in all directions; the cliff itself shattered almost to fragments.

Sandy Bay from west of Straight Point
The cliffs here are streaked white with guano from long-occupied kittiwake roosts; this normally inaccessible section is stiff with seabirds who clearly didn't like the intrusion. I was rather feebly mobbed by one kittiwake, but they mostly went no further than having a lot to say.  Their cry - from which they get their name - is conventionally transcribed as "kitti-waak" or similar, but to me it sounded, appropriately, more like "Bugger off!".

west side of Straight Point

Kittiwakes roosting

See previously: Riddle of the sand.

- Ray

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