"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Holiday, Beer, Branscombe and Donkeys (Monday,1st July)

On Monday we drove into East Devon and visited the picturesque village of Beer. Sadly my loud hints of bird hides and reserves on the Axe Estuary as we drove through Axemouth on the journey were ignored!!!

We walked along the coast path up onto the headland towards Seaton.

Views looking back towards Beer

The cove here is surrounded by cliffs of white chalk which formed during the Cretaceous Period over 75 million years ago when East Devon and Dorset were submerged by sub-tropical seas. The vast majority of chalk along this particular stretch of coastline has been eroded but at Beer it has been preserved due to the chalk rocks being folded and faulted downwards, level with the older rocks, and thus protected from erosion.

Looking towards Seaton

where red Triassic rocks return. These rocks were formed in arid desert conditions where there was little organic material and in its absence iron forms red oxides giving the cliffs the wonderful red colour.

Red valerian seemed to be growing wherever we visited. I was disappointed this holiday to see so few butterfly species - Speckled Wood and Small Tortoiseshell plus a few unidentified blue butterflies at a distance were the sum total. There was an unusual looking butterfly fluttering round at the top of the headland but unfortunately it refused to come away from the edge of the cliff and heights are not my thing!!! So I never did find out what it was.

There were some beautiful wildflowers growing along the path

Greater Knapweed

I think this may be a species of bedstraw?

This particular stretch of path is famous for its Pyramidal Orchids and I think the flowers below may well be a few - way past their sell by date!

Greater Knapweed and Ribwort Plantain

We had a walk round the village

A stream runs alongside the main road through the town

Quite a lot of smuggling occurred in Beer in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Apparently one of the most famous was a Jack Rattenberg, born in Beer in 1778, who wrote about his life and exploits in a book called "Memoirs of a Smuggler" published in 1837.

After lunch we drove to a village called Branscombe which we had been told was particularly pretty. We parked and walked down to the picturesque pub and thought that we had seen all of the village and we would move onto the Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth.

However, as we drove along the lane it became clear that we hadn't seen much of Branscombe at all - we passed a very old church advertising a Flower Festival (I wasn't very happy at missing that!!) and then more stunningly beautiful, quaint thatched cottages including one called Beehive Cottage which was unbelievably lovely and an exceedingly ancient thatched pub. Brian wasn't prepared to stop again - he was on a mission - the Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth.

The donkeys were unbelievably cute and we all fell in love with Crumble. In fact, if I hadn't recently adopted a local donkey at a Sanctuary near home for David for his birthday, I would have adopted this one for him.

We had some fun finding the centre of a maze and then had a look round the walled memorial garden.

On the way back to Lyme Regis Brian agreed to stop very briefly in Branscombe (unfortunately the car park was at the bottom of a very steep hill). Believe me East Devon and Dorset are very hilly and if you are not fit when you get there you are certainly a lot fitter when you leave.

Finally, made it to the Church of Saint Winifred which is very old and very interesting (I've since read the Guide Book and I must return one day).

The Flower Festival had more or less closed but the church looked incredibly beautiful absolutely full of flower arrangements.

I did take a few photos but they were very poor and blurred. To be honest I was feeling rather frazzled as the kindly vicar was trying to engage me in conversation and show me around and all the time I was thinking of Brian fuming in the car as to why I was being so long. It was all rather embarrassing but just to show you how lovely the flowers were - here's a very blurred photo.

Making my escape I decided I didn't dare huff and puff up another steep hill to visit Beehive Cottage but if you are in the area do visit Branscombe - it is so pretty.

Sorry by the way for the length of these posts and large amount of photos but I must admit I do also treat my blog as a bit of a personal journal for keeping records and photos of where I've been and what I've seen.


Em Parkinson said...

I feel the same about my blog. It will be great to look back on in years to come.

Lovely informative tour again - thank you. I've been all those villages but not since the 1970's and remember little about them. We've never been to the donkey sanctuary which, given our proximity, is shameful really. I think you're right about the bedstraw by the way!

Ragged Robin said...

Em Parkinson - Thank you - so glad you enjoyed. Villages well worth a visit but would imagine busy school hols! The Donkey Sanctuary is lovely - would think OB might enjoy. There is a maze there which is great fun and the donkeys are lovely. Free entry but can give donations.

I do keep a written diary but what is great about the blog is that you can add photos too :)

Countryside Tales said...

I know that stretch of coast really well but haven't been for a year so it was lovely to see your photos- thanks for sharing them.

I'm exactly the same with my blog- one day I'll get it printed and have a good old giggle reading it all back!

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thank you - so glad you are enjoying.

Some of your exploits would make a great book - esp. the bull escapade :)

Pete said...

some great pics. it's a lovely area.

did you go to the bakery at Branscombe??

Ragged Robin said...

Pete - Thanks - yes, its beautiful :)

No visit to Bakery or Forge :( Brian would have had a fit if I'd been any longer and NT places were just shutting as I got back from church. TBH would have liked to return to Branscombe. Still not happy that I didn't get to look round church properly or get photos of the Beehive Cottage part of village!

SeagullSuzie said...

It's a lovely area. We like Sidmouth and love the donkey sanctuary and try to support them as much as we can. Beer looks lovely-I dont think we stopped off to check it out. This post is a lovely tour of the area and I've really enjoyed it.

Chris Rohrer said...

Hey no sweat:) That's what these blogs are about. It's difficult traveling with others sometimes. I think I understand your "issue" about taking your time. For some people it's about getting from A to Z. They will never understand the need to overturn a rock, look closely at a flower, etc. While you, I suspect, are a lot like most of the bloggers here.....searching everything. Those are two difficult travel styles to put together, but on the other hand, you have someone to keep you on schedule:) It's a tricky balancing act while on vacation. Plus....being tired with the photography bit is normal. I felt that while on my travels. I became lazier with the camera. My shoulder began to bruise from these hikes like the one you mention. I do feel much more fit after them all.....and yet I'm back to my same old same old over here:) Wonderful pics:)

Ragged Robin said...

SeagullSuzie - Many thanks - sadly we didn't get time to actually go into Sidmouth. I thought the Donkey Sanctuary was excellent - well done on the support - very worthy cause.

Beer is well worth a visit - pretty little village, nice coastal walks and some gardens which we visited on Friday - post on its way soon :) Plus there are some Caverns too.

Chris Rohrer - Many thanks - such a lovely comment and yes you are so right in everything you say!!! It is difficult on holiday as there are four people to please so I don't get to do as much birding as I would like. We tend to go and do holiday type things to keep everyone happy :)

I so get fed up at times with heavy camera and bins strung round my neck! Very tiring especially when walking up hills!!!