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
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.