Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jurassic Coast - World Heritage Site, May Bank Holiday Walk

My home town of Exmouth is on one end of a World Heritage site, namely the Jurassic Coast, with cliffs that span the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, about 180 million years of geological history.

I have put links at the bottom of this post for more information.
The cliffs just along from Orcombe Point at Exmouth
With some fantastic weather over the May Bank holiday, Carolyn and I decided to stick a flask in the bag and walk the beach from Orcombe Point in Exmouth, to Sandy Bay, over the cliffs and back to Exmouth.

A long sandy beach with Sandy Bay just around the corner up ahead
The cliffs along this stretch of beach show off the different layers of rock strata and are constantly prone to rock falls, particularly after periods of heavy rain fall. It's easy to see the most recent falls as the rocks littering the base of the cliffs vary in colour from the red of the new fall, to the light grey, very often covered in sea weed and barnacles, showing the older falls.

These cliffs are prone to constant rock falls - unbelievably some "grockles" (holiday makers) were sat among the rocks!
This is dinosaur country, and I remember school trips along this coast at towns like Beer and Lyme Regis to hunt for ammonites, commonly found among the rocks that litter the beach. In fact I still have a few examples of treasured finds in boxes in the loft!


Liopleurodon ferox, once roamed the waters off Exmouth!
Perhaps there would have been a lot fewer paddlers around off Exmouth and Sandy Bay if Liopleurodon still lived locally.

A fly past as we walked the beach - nice day for it
As we made our way along the beach we were treated to a fly past of several light aircraft obviously out on a rally or something. As a former fair weather pilot I could see the attraction.

View from the cliffs walking back from Sandy Bay to Exmouth
Sandy Bay is a holiday home beach site and was "heaving" with May Bank holiday makers so we quickly made our way through the masses to get up on to the cliff path heading back home.

Budleigh Salterton, just in view, tucked behind the brambles, left and Sandy Bay holiday homes, right
 The views from the cliff path were stunning , the sunny day giving great visibility over Lyme Bay.

The view towards Teignmouth
The cliff path has been upgraded since the registering as a World Heritage Site, with information posts along the route, explaining specific areas of interest and illustrating examples of the local wildlife that can be seen.

Magpie in the flower meadow
As we got closer to Exmouth we came up to the beautiful flower meadows that are protected from grazing animals. The result is nature filling the field with local wild flowers providing great habitat for other creatures and a stunning carpet of colour.

The Magpie above was obviously enjoying bug hunting and since the ban on shooting them, they are a very common site.

Green Winged Orchid
Apparently the Green Winged Orchid is a local special plant, that we saw highlighted on one of the sign posts. A great food source for the bees and Carolyn spotted loads of them in the same meadow.

As kids, we used to play up on the cliffs and I can remember the old gun bunkers that were home to several large pieces of artillery during WWII, manned by the Exmouth Home Guard, of which Carolyn's Grand Dad was a member. On returning to Exmouth, years later, I went looking for my former play haunts, only to find absolutely no sign of them. They had long since fallen victim to the ravages of time and the constant cliff erosion.

The needle, unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 2002
An area we had always taken for granted as a nice place to walk and picnic and see interesting stuff was finally accorded proper recognition and protection in 2002 with the erection of the needle at Orcombe Point in Exmouth, by Prince Charles the Prince of Wales in 2002 recognising the World Heritage status.

Exmouth beach looking up the mouth of the River Exe with the Haldon Hills and the edge of Dartmoor beyond -
God's Own Country!
I have lived in the town for nearly forty years, pretty much my whole life, and it is easy to take for granted the beauty of the area that you are familiar with and see day to day. You just have to take the time and really look at your surroundings to appreciate it fully, and with the sun shining, and England winning the Test at Lord's it really was a great May Bank holiday.

A bit of cloud cover towards the end of the afternoon, looking towards Dawlish


Nice to have a little break from the painting, but the 1/24e Ligne are well under way so they will be next up.

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