A Travellerspoint blog

A POOL IN PENZANCE

UNLIKE MANY PLACES IN ENGLAND, Penzance in Cornwall did not get a mention in the Domesday Book published in 1086 although there is archaeological evidence of a bronze age settlement in the area. The first written mention of the town is in a document dated 1284, when it was listed as ‘Pensans’. The etymology of the town’s name derives from the Cornish words ‘penn sans’ meaning ‘holy headland’.

We discovered recently, on our first visit to the town, that Penzance in the far south-west of the British Isles is very pleasant and full of interesting buildings and other attractions. One of these is the long seafront promenade from which the visitor can see nearby Newlyn in one direction and St Michael’s Mount, Britain’s answer to France’s Mont St Michel, in another. Incidentally, Penzance is further west than anywhere in mainland France.

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A row of poles carrying large flags, on which pictures of a diving ladies, dressed in old-fashioned blue striped bathing dresses, were printed, attracted our attention. The flags were fluttering vigorously in the strong breeze. They were placed next to the wall surrounding a large triangular open-air swimming pool two of whose walls project out into the sea. The pool was divided into two sections, one with a greater area than the other. Plenty of people were swimming in both parts. The design of the pool immediately made us think that it had elements suggestive of the art deco style that was popular in between the two World Wars.

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The pool is known as the Jubilee Pool. A plaque at its main entrance informs that the pool was opened on the 31st of May 1935 (during the year of the Silver Jubilee of the reign of King George V), confirming our suspicion that it was built in the era of art deco. A website (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1221190) contains the information that the pool was built to the designs of the Borough Engineer Captain F Latham, and it adds that the pool:
“… is now the finest surviving example of its type with the exception of the Saltdean Lido in Brighton (listed grade II). In Europe, lidos such as the Piscine Molitor in Paris of 1929 were the first to adopt the modernist style in order to embody the worship of sunlight and physical fitness. The seaside lido manifested the transformation of sea bathing in the 1920s from a predominantly health activity into a leisure activity, and because it was freed from the constraints in planning of more conventional pools it presented local authorities with the opportunity to emulate Continental fashions.”

The water in the two sections of the pool differs in temperature. In the lager part of the bath, it is unheated but in the smaller part, it is heated. Currently, a bather pays up to £4.25 to swim in the unheated section, and up to £11.75 to swim in the ‘Geothermal Pool’, whose water is between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius (https://jubileepool.co.uk/tickets/). Despite locals receiving a discount on ticket prices, many choose to swim in the sea amongst the Battery Rocks that surround the pool and the extension of the promenade that runs along the eastern edge of the bath. One local, who was dressed in a wet suit and had just been in the sea thought the ticket prices were a bit steep and told us that during September, the end of summer, the sea is actually quite warm.

The Geothermal Pool is filled with salt water heated by geothermal energy. The idea of installing this feature derives from Charlie Dixon, who in 2010:
“…had just returned from a trip to New Zealand where he had bathed in geothermal pools … Ten years and a £1.8m funding package later (not to mention an incredible amount of work by the Jubilee Pool Directors and staff) the first geothermally heated pool of its kind in the UK opens to the public on 1st September 2020 …
… The system operates by extracting warm water from one geothermal well (410m deep – the height of one and a half Eiffel Towers!!), taking heat out of that water using heat pumps and distributing it to the pool via a heat exchanger, before re-injecting the cooler water back into the ground. This combined system means that the temperature of the pool can be sustained with a very low carbon footprint. The initial pool heating results suggest that it’s about 80% geothermal but ultimately all the energy is coming from our geothermal well. We are using the heat pumps to concentrate that energy to the exact temperature required for the pool.” (https://jubileepool.co.uk/pool-info/geothermal/).
Although the Jubilee Pool geothermal system is the first of its kind in the UK, it was not the first pool or lido to use naturally heated water. The Romans heated the water at Bath with naturally warm spring water.

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We wandered along the eastern side of the pool towards a carved stone obelisk that overlooks the triangular pool and the expanse of Battery Rocks. It stands on the site of a gun battery that was built in 1740 when Britain’s relations with Spain deteriorated. The obelisk, a war memorial, was designed by Sir Edward Warren and erected in 1922. It was unveiled by Mrs Bolitho on the 14th of May 1922. She was the wife of Thomas Bedford Bolitho (1835-1915), a Cornish politician (Liberal Unionist MP), banker, and industrialist, of Trewidden (Cornwall). Bolitho is a western Cornish surname and that of a prolific writer and biographer, Hector Bolitho (1897-1974), whose biography of Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan, was published in 1954. Hector was born in New Zealand and migrated to the UK in about 1924. Hector’s grandfather emigrated from Cornwall to New Zealand. It would be interesting to know whether Hector and Thomas were related, even remotely.

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We saw plenty of folk bathing in the sea near the pool. They sheltered behind towels that flapped about in the breeze whilst they slipped in and out of their bathing suits. None of them, with whom we spoke, complained about the water’s temperature. In addition to humans enjoying the environment I spotted several cormorants contemplating the sea from their perches on the rocks. The Jubilee Pool and the rocks near it are some of the lovely features that make a visit to Penzance delightful.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 05:16 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

SAILING AROUND SALCOMBE

Salcombe, a charming little seaport in Devon, can be enjoyed sailing in a boat in the water surrounding it

Salcombe viewed from the water

Salcombe viewed from the water

The town of Salcombe in Devon lies on the western shore of a long inlet from the sea. At first glance, you might mistake this for an estuary, but it is not. Unlike an estuary, no rivers flow into it. The inlet is what is called a ‘ria’. A ria is a drowned valley open to the sea. This short piece, a photo-essay, describes a boat trip made to and from Salcombe along the ria and one of its many branches.

Salcombe church

Salcombe church

We embarked at the Normandy Pontoon in the centre of Salcombe. The pontoon is named in honour of the Normandy Landings made by Allied service-men in 1944. We sped away from Salcombe, which lies on a hillside dominated by the square tower of Holy Trinity Church. Soon we passed by the landing for the passenger ferry which carries people to East Portledown. Next to it, the three-storey Ferry Inn stands proudly.

Ferry Inn from the ria

Ferry Inn from the ria

Salcombe Yacht Club and war memorial from the water

Salcombe Yacht Club and war memorial from the water

As we sailed past numerous pleasure craft, we caught sight of the South Sands Ferry that carries passengers to and from South Sands Beach to the west of Salcombe. From the water, we had good views of the Cliff House, home of the Salcombe Yacht Club, and its neighbour the 18th century Grove – a grand house with three distinctive curved bays.

Ruins of Salcombe Castle

Ruins of Salcombe Castle

Next, we sailed past the derelict Salcombe Castle. Now in ruins, the structure was constructed during the reign of Henry VIII. During the English Civil War (1642-1651), it was one of the last places to hold out against the Parliamentarian troops led by Oliver Cromwell. A pub in Salcombe is named after Sir Edmund Fortescue, who was ordered to hold the fort in 1643 when the people of Plymouth rebelled against the King.

Approaching Bolt Head from Salcombe

Approaching Bolt Head from Salcombe

Approaching the open sea, the landscape bordering the ria becomes increasingly wilder and rockier as one heads away from the castle. The west side of the mouth of the ria is guarded by the high rocks of Bolt Head that enclose the tiny Starehole Bay. Far to the east of the mouth is Prawle Point, famed for the great number of wrecks that have occurred on its rocks. A sand bar runs beneath the sea near the mouth of the ria, making the water shallower above it. This hazard to large vessels causes the sea to become choppier over it. We noticed this in our small boat.

Near Bolt Head

Near Bolt Head

At the ‘mouth’ of the ria, we turned around, and then began heading back upstream. We sailed past Salcombe’s busy harbour. North of the town, there are many pleasure boats moored out in the ria. From a distance, I spotted a large black bird perched on a buoy. It might have been a cormorant.

Upstream from Salcombe

Upstream from Salcombe

Waterfowl upstream from Salcombe

Waterfowl upstream from Salcombe

View of distant Kingsbridge

View of distant Kingsbridge

With Kingsbridge in sight ahead of us, we headed eastwards into one of the many creeks that lead into the main body of the ria. As it was high tide, it was safe to sail along Frogmore Creek, which becomes almost waterless at low tide. This winding waterway passes between hilly banks covered with cultivated fields.

Near Frogmore Creek

Near Frogmore Creek

Windswept vegetation in Frogmore Creek

Windswept vegetation in Frogmore Creek

Fields bordering Frogmore Creek

Fields bordering Frogmore Creek

Near to Frogmore, which sits at the eastern end of the Creek, we passed first a single disused lime-kiln, and then a fine pair. These used to be used to heat limestone to produce lime, which was then spread on fields to reduce the acidity of the soil.

Lime kiln in Frogmore Creek

Lime kiln in Frogmore Creek

Two lime kilns in Frogmore Creek

Two lime kilns in Frogmore Creek

Picnic in Frogmore Creek

Picnic in Frogmore Creek

We disembarked at a landing stage near Frogmore, and watched preparations for a village fete that was to be held the next day. We did not stay long because our ‘captain’ was worried that the tide might turn, and that we would be left up the creek, stranded for six hours until the next high tide.

Sailing in Frogmore Creek

Sailing in Frogmore Creek

We sailed back to Salcombe, having enjoyed great scenery and a lot of fresh air and sea-spray. That evening, our appetites were great, and we made short work of a satisfying seafood meal in one of Salcombe’s quaint restaurants.

South Sands Ferry

South Sands Ferry

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:46 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged sea boating devon cruising ria salcombe Comments (1)

STROLLING AROUND SALCOMBE

Historical Salcombe is a picturesque town in Devon, a favourite for holiday-makers and owners of second homes.

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The town of Salcombe in Devon clings to the western slopes of a large costal inlet that runs inland as far as Kingsbridge. The inlet is not an estuary but a ‘ria’, a completely submerged river valley. Although there may have been some human activity in the area from early times, it was not until 1244 that Salcombe is first mentioned in the written records that are currently available.

Salcombe from Devon Rd

Salcombe from Devon Rd

Fore Street Salcombe

Fore Street Salcombe

I have known about Salcombe for many decades because a schoolfriend of mine has a family holiday home there. However, it was only this August (2017) that I have finally managed to visit this small town. Another set of friends own a house on Devon Road overlooking the town and the water beyond it. During the four days I spent there, I made several strolls around Salcombe, and what follows is a description of what I saw of the town whilst making them.

The original Crew store in Fore Str Salcombe

The original Crew store in Fore Str Salcombe

Salcombe The first Jack Wills store

Salcombe The first Jack Wills store

The first stroll took me to Fore Street, which follows the town’s shoreline a little way inland from it. This quaint thoroughfare is lined with shops including the first of two clothing businesses that have become country-wide retail chains: Jack Wills; and Crew Clothing Company. The Victoria Inn stands between these two establishments and opposite a small square that leads to the water.

Normandy landings memorial near Normandy Pontoon in Salcombe

Normandy landings memorial near Normandy Pontoon in Salcombe

There are public benches opposite the busy marina. These are next to a memorial commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944. Some of the vessels that took part in this invasion left from Salcombe.

Plaque next to Salcombe drinking fountain on Fore Street

Plaque next to Salcombe drinking fountain on Fore Street

Salcombe drinking fountain on Fore Street

Salcombe drinking fountain on Fore Street

Almost facing the D Day monument, there is a cast-iron drinking-fountain set into a stone wall. It has a nozzle for humans and, beneath it, one for dogs. A notice above it states that it is not to be used for cleaning fish. Close by, there is a plaque in memory of a 61-year-old man, Griff, a “much loved son of Salcombe” who drowned in 1985.

Salcombe Council Hall above museum

Salcombe Council Hall above museum

Salcombe Maritime Museum

Salcombe Maritime Museum

Market Street leads away from the water-side uphill to the start of Courtenay Street, where a neo-gothic building, the Council Hall, stands. Beneath this, there is the small but interesting Salcombe Maritime Museum, which is crammed full of exhibits.

Courtenay Str Salcombe

Courtenay Str Salcombe

Wartime shell near Courtenay Str in Salcombe

Wartime shell near Courtenay Str in Salcombe

Courtenay Street is lined with small stone cottages, some of which have been covered with stucco. Immediately above this street there is a grassy park laid out on the steep hillside. This contains playground equipment for children and, also, a huge shell-casing – a souvenir of one of the two World Wars. A sharp incline leads from the park back to Devon Road.

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church

My second stroll, made on a rainy afternoon, began at The Holy Trinity Church, a Victorian structure with an imposing, tall square bell-tower. It was consecrated in 1843. Although I did not think much of its architecture, it contains some interesting features. In the entrance porch, there is a plaque removed from ‘The First Chapel of Ease’ that used to stand in Market Street. This chapel dated back to 1395, and was rebuilt in 1801. Near this, there is a mediaeval stone water stoop that used to be in a church at South Huish.

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church plaque

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church plaque

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church old water stoop

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church old water stoop

Within the body of the church, there is a lovely stone font whose bowl is lined with a silver plate that was designed recently by a local silver-smith. On the north wall, there is a bas-relief carved in a white stone. This depicts many features of Salcombe that would be familiar to the parishioners, including: the church; the war memorial; fishing gear; sea food; bread, drinks, fruit and vegetables. The fruit depicted on this bas-relief is a reminder that Salcombe was once an important port for the fruit trade.

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church sliver lined font

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church sliver lined font

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church town bas relief

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church town bas relief

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church memorial to US servicemen who lived in Salcombe

Salcombe Holy Trinity Church memorial to US servicemen who lived in Salcombe

Close to this there is a large flag of the USA, beneath which there is a plaque to the memory of American service-men and -women who lost their lives between 1943 and 1945. And, a model of a sailing boat hangs beneath the arch of the chapel to the north of the high altar. When we visited the church, afternoon tea was being served. The people enjoying this were a friendly bunch of locals.

Dewberry Cottage near Salcombe Maritime Museum

Dewberry Cottage near Salcombe Maritime Museum

Heavy rain drove us back towards Devon Road. On our way, we passed Dewberry Cottage close to the Maritime Museum. The doorway to this is covered with a myriad of small sea-shells.

Oldest house in Salcombe

Oldest house in Salcombe

View from Shadycombe Lane. Sailmaker in Salcombe

View from Shadycombe Lane. Sailmaker in Salcombe

Next morning, the rain was still falling, but that did not deter me from joining our friend walking her dog. The Old Porch House on Shadycombe Lane was built in 1660, and is one of the oldest surviving buildings in Salcombe. Shadycombe Lane leads downhill to Gould Road, which runs beside a narrow inlet (lined with converted boat-sheds) that opens out into Batson Creek.

converted boatsheds on Batson Creek

converted boatsheds on Batson Creek

A derelict boatshed on Batson Creek

A derelict boatshed on Batson Creek

We walked along the south bank of Batson Creek, passing a derelict boat-house and then two abandoned stone lime-kilns. There are many lime-kilns along the convoluted shores of the ria that leads to Kingsridge. These were used to heat limestone (to 900 degrees Celsius) to release lime from it. The lime was used to reduce the acidity of the soil in the local fields, and thereby to increase the soil’s ‘fertility’.

Lime kiln on Batson Creek

Lime kiln on Batson Creek

Batson Creek another lime kiln

Batson Creek another lime kiln

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek

There is a small hamlet at the end of Batson Creek. A number of its houses are picturesquely thatched. I spotted a small had-pump in a stone shelter beneath one of these cottages.

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek pump

Hamlet at upper end of Batson Creek pump

We returned along the bucolic Batson Creek back into Salcombe, where we walked along Island Street. This is lined with boat-sheds, some of which have been converted into shops and boat salesrooms. At least one of these buildings is still used to repair boats.

Island Street Salcombe

Island Street Salcombe

Flip-flop Shack  Island Street Salcombe

Flip-flop Shack Island Street Salcombe

Island Street Salcombe boat shed

Island Street Salcombe boat shed

Island Street Salcombe fresh crustacea

Island Street Salcombe fresh crustacea

Beyond Island Street, on Church Street, there stands a stone and brick building labelled ‘Old Church Hall’.

Old Church Hall Salcombe

Old Church Hall Salcombe

View from Devon Street

View from Devon Street

It was converted into a residential building in 2005. Returning to the bottom of Devon Road, we had a magnificent view over the rooftops of the town towards the ria covered with small boats, and surrounded by green rolling hills.

Victorian cottages in Salcombe

Victorian cottages in Salcombe

On another day, we ascended Devon Road (instead of going downhill as we had always done previously). When we were high above the Salcombe Yacht Club, we began descending towards it along a path that led steeply downwards through a little garden that reached a staircase that took us to Cliff Road, which is the southern continuation of Fore Street.

Gardens above the Salcombe Yacht Club

Gardens above the Salcombe Yacht Club

Staircase to Cliff Road Salcombe

Staircase to Cliff Road Salcombe

The Yacht Club is housed in part of Cliff House, which is also home to Salcombe’s library and some assembly rooms. The present Cliff House constructed before 1919, when it was leased to the Yacht Club, stands on a site that has been occupied by buildings bearing the name ‘Cliff House’ since before 1774 (see: http://www.cliffhousesalcombe.co.uk/History/).

Salcombe Yacht Club and Town Hall

Salcombe Yacht Club and Town Hall

The Grange at Salcombe

The Grange at Salcombe

Salcombe War Memorial

Salcombe War Memorial

Below Cliff Hose, and overlooking the water, stands the Salcombe War Memorial shaped like a Celtic Cross. High above this, and neighbouring Cliff House is an attractive house with a veranda in the shape of three curves. This is The Grange, a building that was built in the 18th century. From the War Memorial, you can get a good view of the hamlet of East Portlemouth across the water from Salcombe.

East Portledown Ferry (in the foreground!) Salcombe

East Portledown Ferry (in the foreground!) Salcombe

Cliff Road runs north to become Fore Street. Orestone Cottage, a tall narrow building, has retained an old insurance company badge (a fire insurance mark) with a smiling sun on it (probably the mark of the ‘Sun Fire Office’, which was inexistence from 1710-1891). Orestone defines the end of Cliff Road and the beginning of Fore Street.

Cottage on Fore Str Salcombe

Cottage on Fore Str Salcombe

Salcombe old insurance badge

Salcombe old insurance badge

Ferry Inn

Ferry Inn

A few feet north of the cottage, a staircase leads down to the water’s edge, where the covered shelter for the East Portledown Ferry stands. Halfway down the stairs, is the popular Ferry Inn housed in an 18th century building. Its terrace overlooks the water.

East Portlemouth Ferry station at Salcombe

East Portlemouth Ferry station at Salcombe

East Portlemouth ferry landing

East Portlemouth ferry landing

Pitchford House on  Fore Str Salcombe

Pitchford House on Fore Str Salcombe

Back up on Fore Street, we find Pitchford House, an elegant building standing above a stone base and topped with a triangular pediment. During the 19th century, this was, for a time, a coffee house (in the basement) and reading room (upstairs).

Barding ferry to East Portlemouth at Salcombe

Barding ferry to East Portlemouth at Salcombe

Fore Str Salcombe

Fore Str Salcombe

Normandy Way Salcombe

Normandy Way Salcombe

Picturesque Fore Street, lined with old houses, leads downhill towards its intersection with Market Street and the short Clifton Place. Close to the Jack Wills shop, there is a small lane called Normandy Way. Above the road sign, there is a small plaque that commemorates the men in the US Navy who passed this spot just before embarking on vessels used in the 1944 invasion of Normandy.

The Kings Arms Salcombe Fore Str

The Kings Arms Salcombe Fore Str

Bookshop just off Fore Str Salcombe

Bookshop just off Fore Str Salcombe

Another small alleyway near the18th century Kings Arms pub, leads to Salcombe’s small bookshop, which is often closed during the opening hours displayed at its entrance. The corner of Fore Street and Clifton Place is occupied by PW & J Coleman, a butcher’s shop. This was damaged during WW2, and several people were killed in the town during air-raids, as recorded on a plaque beside the shop. The shop contains a fine collection of old serving plates used to present roasted meats on the dining table.

Butchers shop Salcombe

Butchers shop Salcombe

Butchers shop Salcombe

Butchers shop Salcombe

Butchers shop Salcombe

Butchers shop Salcombe

Sweet shop Fore Str Salcombe

Sweet shop Fore Str Salcombe

Cranch’s Sweetshop (established 1869) is opposite the butcher’s. It claims to be the oldest sweetshop in Devon. At the north end of Fore Street, stands the Fortescue Inn, a 19th century pub. Sir Edmund Fortescue (1610–1647) was a Royalist commander, once the Sheriff of Devon. He was responsible for repairing the Fort of Salcombe, now ruined, that guards the approach both to Salcombe and to the larger Kingsbridge at the end of the ria.

The Fortesque Inn Salcombe

The Fortesque Inn Salcombe

I have described many of the ‘sights’ in Salcombe, a town which now thrives on holidaymakers and second-home owners. The environs of the town include many other places worth visiting, some of which I describe in other blog essays.

Young seagull at Salcombe

Young seagull at Salcombe

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 07:37 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged england resort coastal devon ria salcombe Comments (4)

BOLT HEAD: Bunkers and boulders

A walk around Bolt Head, which is just south of Salcome in Devon

Rocks on Bolt Head

Rocks on Bolt Head

When I agreed to accompany my friend walking his dog, little did I know what an energetic experience I was about to let myself in for, even though I was warned that some of the paths would be “a little steep”. Despite it being a bit of a physical challenge for me, the trail we followed was exceptionally beautiful.

Map of walk (marked with red arrows)

Map of walk (marked with red arrows)

Small bunker near East Soar car park

Small bunker near East Soar car park

We drove from Salcombe to the National Trust car park at East Soar, and then began walking southwards to a farm after passing a creeper-covered derelict brick bunker or block-house. From the farm (named ‘East Sewer Farm’ on a 19th century map), it was possible to see a small brick tower with a pointed roof.

Tower SW of East Soar Car Park

Tower SW of East Soar Car Park

This is West Soar Admiralty Signal Station, which was built in 1794. It is one of the few remaining examples of a chain of signal stations that used to run along the coast of the English Channel (see: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3984323).

Stone wall separating the Warren from fields  just west of Bolt Head. The Warren is on the right side of the wall.

Stone wall separating the Warren from fields just west of Bolt Head. The Warren is on the right side of the wall.

Our path turned eastwards as we approached the top of steep cliffs high above the sea. We walked along the cliff-top through The Warren, some common land, until we reached a well-built stone wall that separates the Warren from fields owned by farmers. This wall exists on a map drawn in 1884, but it is probably older.

Cove just west of Bolt Head

Cove just west of Bolt Head

Coast on the south edge of Bolt Head

Coast on the south edge of Bolt Head

After passing east of the wall, we followed steep paths which afforded views of a rugged, treeless, rocky landscape that falls away sharply to the sea far below. This would make a perfect setting for a scene in “The Game of Thrones” fantasy series. Near the summit of Bolt Head, which some believe to be even further south that The Lizard in Cornwall, we saw a few black, presumably wild, horses. Apart from one keeping watch, the rest were lying on the ground.

The coastal path and rocks on Bolt Head

The coastal path and rocks on Bolt Head

Horses on Bolt Head

Horses on Bolt Head

Large rock on Bolt Head

Large rock on Bolt Head

From this high vantage point, it is possible to see the Cornish coast on a clear day, but we were only able to see the coast across the ria (a coastal inlet formed from a drowned river valley) that runs to Kingsbridge via Salcombe. Across the ria, my friend pointed out some land that still bore traces of very ancient (pre-Roman) agricultural fields. He also showed me small rocky inlets that had been formed by quarrying in Tudor times.

Pre-Roman ancient agricultural fields seen from Bolt Head

Pre-Roman ancient agricultural fields seen from Bolt Head

Continuing along the steep coastal path, we found ourselves looking down on Starehole Bay far beneath us. Approached best by boat, this rocky inlet has a couple of short stretches of sandy beach. Not far beneath the water in this small bay, lies the wreck of the ‘Hertzogin Cecelie’, which hit The Hamstone Rock (out at sea a short distance west of Bolt Head) on the 25th of January 1936, and then drifted onto the rocks beneath Bolt Head. This accident marked the end of the career of the four-masted steel ship built in Bremerhaven in 1902 (see: https://www.submerged.co.uk/hertzoginececilie-wreck.php). After some salvage work had been undertaken, what was left of the vessel was sunk in Starehole Bay, where it can, apparently, be seen beneath the water if light conditions are right.

Starehole Bay from Bolt Head

Starehole Bay from Bolt Head

Sign above Starehole Bay

Sign above Starehole Bay

Beaches at Starehole Bay

Beaches at Starehole Bay

Because of the poor visibility that morning, we were only just able to make out Prawle Point, a rocky promontory to the east of the ria. This has been the site of many disastrous wrecks over the centuries (see: https://www.submerged.co.uk/prawle-point.php).

Our path led steeply downwards around the bay until it met with two others. One led along the cliffs to Overbecks House and then on towards Salcombe. The other, which we followed, went steeply upwards towards East Soar Outdoor Experience, a farm converted into an attractive outdoor pursuits centre. This includes a café/restaurant inside a huge barn and a field where there were several identical ‘pre-pitched’ tents for people wanting to camp (see: http://www.eastsoaroutdoorexperience.co.uk). Its aim is to instil a lifelong love of the joys of living in the great outdoors.

Cafe at East Soar

Cafe at East Soar

Approaching Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar

Approaching Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar

Cattle at East Soar

Cattle at East Soar

Close to the Outdoor Experience, there is a massive concrete structure that stands beside one of the grassy runways of the former RAF Bolt Head Airfield, which is still used by small private aircraft if there is not too much wind. The concrete structure, designed to withstand a 5 kilo-ton nuclear blast, The Hope Cove Radar Station, was built during the Cold War between 1952 and 1954. In the late 1950s, it became a fortified nuclear-proof Regional Seat of Government (see: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1427493), where selected government officials could take refuge during and after a nuclear weapons attack. Prior to assuming this function, the site was part of a chain of coastal radar stations designed to give advanced warnings of the approach of enemy aircraft and to track them as they headed inland. The airfield was, for a time, used for planes that were to be used to intercept airborne intruders. (For a description of the interior of the bunker, see: http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/h/hope_cove/index2.html). The bunker was closed-down by the government in 1992, and is now privately owned.

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar and runway

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar and runway

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar and grass runway

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar and grass runway

Runway at East Soar

Runway at East Soar

The former bunker is not far from the car park, where we had begun our energetic trek. Apart from getting plenty of exercise (well over 8000 steps according to my friend’s pedometer), and many lungsful of fresh air, I experienced the dramatically beautiful scenery of this headland on the Devon coast.

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar

Hope Cove Bunker at East Soar

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 09:58 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged england walking hiking bunker devon shipwrecks salcombe bolt_head cold_war wrecks Comments (4)

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