Sunday, 10 January 2016

West Country Tour … Hartland Point … part 11 …



Hercules Promontory from Ptolemy’s geography, Shipwreck Coast and Sailors’ Grave, Charles Kingsley’s 1855 description in “Westward Ho!” … show us unusual geology amongst spectacular coastline walks, incredible landscapes hiding history in its combes, hanging valley waterfalls, ancient woodlands … now protected by its status as An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Folded Twisted rocks (shales and mudstones)
 at the Hartland Heritage Coast



Hartland Point faces out into the Bristol Channel a 30 mile (45 km) breadth of water to St Govan’s Head in Wales … marking the tenuous boundary with the Atlantic Ocean.






Bristol Channel: showing Hartland Point on the Devon
coast, and St Govan's Head in Wales (both in blue)


Waves stream and rattle across 3,000 miles of Ocean, nothing to break them or control their movement, until they meet the waters of the Bristol Channel (more specifically the Celtic Sea) and land masses such as Hartland Point or Lundy Island about 12 miles (19 km) off the Devon coast.



When on Hartland’s tempest-furrowed shore
Breaks the long swell from farthest Labrador.


Hartland village, with the very tall towered
church ... these towers were signposts for the
sailors in the Channel
Though this disturbance is nothing compared to that of the geological upheavals of yore.




Suddenly after crossing into Devon, a shout was out … go left ‘old girl’ go left … off the main road I, as the driver, obeyed, we made a sharp left towards the coast … down tiny lanes – but how fascinating it is … geologically so interesting.


I had no idea why we were going in this direction – in fact still don’t - one of the frustrations of just having the trip time together and not seeing Jenny again before she returned to Vancouver Island.  But I am delighted we turned left.


A geologically unusual hanging valley

This hard-rock coast tells its own story … our soft chalk coast here in Sussex erodes back, we get hanging valleys but they erode over time.  The hanging valleys on the coast line of North Devon just hang (are truncated by the hard cliff line) – streams pour over the edge and are a geological rarity.



The rocks of Hartland Quay are the remains of a mountain range … way back 320 million years ago sedimentary rocks were deposited in a shallow sea during the Carboniferous (coal-bearing) period.


The layers are sequences of shales and mudstones representing the remains of sub-marine “avalanches” of sediments called turbidites.   At the same time as this was happening at Hartland, coals were being deposited in swamps, forming the South Wales coalfields.


Movement of the Supercontinents through the eras:
I know this is not in focus - but it is larger
than the one I might have shown.  It comes from
  Pangaea inWikipedia ... and shows
from top left Permian, Triassic, Jurassic,
Cretaceous with the last image
showing the continents as they are  today
Plate tectonics caused the collision of two super continents with (what would be) Hartland Quay in the middle.  Devon was at the southern margin of a super-continent called Laurasia, which collided with the super-continent Pangaea – to the South.




As these two mega-continents collided during the Variscan Orogeny the rocks at Hartland Quay were buckled and bent, producing the spectacular chevron shaped folds exposed in the cliffs today – the top surface was then, over the eras, eroded.





In ‘recent times’ – the Ice Age inheritance … the coldest time was about 18,000 years ago … this was when the ice sheet covered Wales but only the effects of the periglacial conditions affected Devon and Cornwall.  This would explain Maer Lake, Bude (see my previous post) being peripheral to the ice in origin. 


Harsh landscape, hard rocks ... 


The landscape would have been dramatically affected by glacial action … frost heave, the push of the outer edges of the glacial covering (boulders, large scree), reduction in vegetation able to survive the severity of the winters … severely modifying the geology of the area.




Getting our heads around the timescale involved … the Alps and Himalayas are merely 50 million years old, (the Rockies are between 80 and 55 million years old) … the continental collision which created the Variscan mountains occurred 290 million years ago – ample time for rivers, slope movements and other erosional forces to reduce these mountains to their roots …


Hercules Promontory - Hartland Lighthouse
We know early Neolithic man was here (from my previous posts), also we have evidence of the Romans from Ptomely - his Hercules Promontory description, and from the milestones they left …


… Saxon Hartland was originally owned by King Alfred the Great, it later passed to Lady Gytha, the mother of King Harold of Hastings fame.


Hartland coastline looking south-westwards
The small inlets were invaluable to early traders, merchants and  naval commanders;  In the 1500s John Hawkins, Francis Drake (his cousin) and Walter Raleigh sponsored the first quay at Hartland … however the Atlantic storms made its maintenance difficult, finally being abandoned in 1893.



Clovelly harbour - a similar
construction that has withstood
the test of waves and time
… the breath-taking prospect of sea-cliffs calls intrepid walkers, biologists, geologists and scientists to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – which still reveals its secrets in the Celtic Seas, or on the medieval shore … weathered and not much changed over time.


Charles Kingsley in his Westward Ho! reminds us of this fractured coastline in Chapter VI of his story …


The Combes of the Far West:  each has its black field of jagged shark’s tooth rock which paves the cove from side to side, streaked with here and there a pink line of shell sand, and laced with white foam from the eternal surge, stretching in parallel lines out to the westward, in strata set upright on edge, or tilted towards each other at strange angles by primevil earth-quakes; - - such is the “mouth” – as those coves are called and such the jaw of teeth which they display, one rasp of which would grind abroad the timbers of the stoutest ship.”

A photo of a painting from 1814 - showing the
harbour as it would have been ... 


To landward, all richness, softness, and peace; to seaward, a waste and howling wilderness of rock and roller, barren to fisherman, and hopeless to the shipwrecked mariner.”






Super-continent collision ... bent, twisted ... part of
thje "V" of the chevron type formations left
That was where the shout ‘to the left’ led us … then we wended our way along those tiny lanes unchanged for many a century northwards past Clovelly, Westward Ho!, Bideford – where we had a wander, onward to Barnstaple, reaching Ilfracombe our next destination, where there are some tales to tell.


I hope you get a feel for the place … I’m not really sure why I bothered to write a post after reading Kingsley’s brilliant description? … a wordsmith par excellence


Here's a link to Geology of North Devon - see point 39: Hartland Point to Hartland Quay - - showing us that the rocks are mudstones and sandstones.


Next up will be a celebratory post …

Hilary Melton-Butcher 
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

49 comments:

Gattina said...

Very interesting and what a beautiful turn "left" looks like a rather wild landscape which I love !

A Heron's View said...

A very interesting and informative blog post Hilary. Your mentions of Westward Ho! Returns me to my boyhood of when I read a book of the same name, which if memory serves me correctly was all about Sir Walter Raleigh.

Later in life I had friends who lived there in the building that once housed a Training School for Seamen. On my annual visits to England I would spend a few happy days there before continuing with the remainder of my holiday.

Thank you for reviving my memories.

Cindy Saul said...

Oh goodness me! These places are stunning, one can only dream of seeing them in real life but hey, anything is possible!

Beate said...

When I see those beautiful coast pictures I immediately want to come over and visit those places myself :) So amazing!
And your background information intrigues me even more.

Have a wonderful Sunday, Hilary!
Lots of hugs to you,
Beate

Bob Scotney said...

I took geology as a general subject while at University so I really enjoyed the pictures of rocks in this post.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those are some unique and amazing looking rocks.

Susan Scott said...

Astounding beautiful photographs Hilary thank you - and for the time line of mountains. The Himalayas are young in comparison to the Variscan ones.

Take the odd left turn even without knowing why - see where it gets you!

Jo said...

What a fascinating looking area and yes, very beautiful. Glad you turned left. Know little or nothing about this area so it was interesting to read.

Out on the prairie said...

Amazing geological beauty in your picture. What a magnificent area to explore.I have had a taste this last week of a British author, Jojo Moyes,a friend from Malta recommended.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

What nature can do! That is such a beautiful--and fascinating area.

Rhodesia said...

As ever lots of interesting places and photos to back it all up. You had a great trip. Diane
http://photodiarydps.blogspot.fr/

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Gattina - I was so pleased we went down (i.e. turned left!). It was stunning ...

@ Mel - thanks for coming by and commenting ... I think it's probably the sme book - but Kingsley was writing about the Elizabethan era and Drake ... so you've probably got muddled over time?!

We walked into Bideford - and certainly there had been some very interesting organisations based there ... but in recent times they've been absorbed and centralised.

I'm happy I brought some memories back for you ...

@ Cindy - well yes, that coast will be here for a few more thousand years - plenty of time for a visit?!

@ Beate - those lanes would bemuse Keith, let alone you! I'm glad the background information brings the area more to life and reminds us of our past ...

@ Bob - I remember your geological interest - the rocks absolutely amazed me to see ...

@ Alex - it's a unique area, that is for sure

@ Susan - I'm glad I put the timeline for the mountain ranges in ... time frames always bring situations into context - especially millions of years later.

It really was 'take the next turn left' ... fortunately I love rocks! Also a great and different subject to write about .. I'll be back to visit the area too ...

@ Jo - I'm delighted you enjoyed the read ..

@ OOTP - I'm happy to read you enjoyed the geology, while also reading a British author - love to know what the book was ...

@ Holly - yes nature over time can make huge adjustments to life on earth. It's even more beautiful than I've shown here I think ... cruel, but perfect too.

@ Diane - we had a very good trip ... and I've enjoyed and am still enjoying writing about it ...

Delighted you've all enjoyed this post .. brilliant! Cheers Hilary

Jean Davis said...

That is some very impressive geology on display!

Botanist said...

THat coast reminds me a lot of the cliffs of Guernsey - weathered granite pounded by the Atlantic. Yes, I know all about those storms!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It would need to be hard granite to survive the pounding it must get from the waves. Such a beautiful coastline.

beste barki said...

When church towers could serve as signposts how big the world must have seemed. It is getting smaller by the day.

Truedessa said...

I found this to be very interesting and the pic of the folded twisted rock is very unique. Turning left was a good move to see that wondrous hanging valley. Thanks for sharing!

DMS said...

Just goes to show that sometimes turning one way can give us a whole new perspective. So glad you turned left! Beautiful pictures and I loved learning about history too. :)
~Jess

D.G. Hudson said...

An excellent history and geological post, Hilary! The time frames for geological changes are so vast that the mind finds it hard to believe. Just coming by to see what you're up to, or at. Hope your holidays were great!

Diana Wilder said...

Wonderful, Hilary!

I was utterly caught by the photo of the folded, twisted rocks! Simply amazing! And the magnificent photo of the hanging valley! …and I have always been fascinated by Pangeia (the original single continent) I remember thinking ‘Why does South America fit so snugly into the notch of Africa?’

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jean - the geology is quite amazing - unexpected too ...

@ Ian - the interesting thing is that it's not granite - it is mudstones and sandstones - which have been hardened during the tectonic upheavals. I've put a link into the post ... explaining the geology. Pounding waves - I saw those in action ...

@ Diane - as I said to Ian .. it's not granite - which is so unexpected - we assume it's granite, yet it's not ... the pounding waves certainly come rolling in.

@ Beste - the Church towers along the coast, at the high points, really did stand out, and the towers just seemed to go up and up ...

@ Trudessa - the rock shapes along this part of the coast are extraordinary, and show us the strength of the earth's crust as it moves .. then the weathering experienced over the eras. The hanging valley is a speciality of the area.

@ Jess - yes, Jenny must have had a reason for wanting to go left - I wonder if Emily went there too. I'm delighted I followed Jenny's instruction to go left!

@ DG - thanks .. it was fun to write up - though there's lots more. I had to put in the geological eras - to bring the coastline to life or at least show why it is like it is.

I'm still on my tour .. thanks for visiting ...

@ Diana - yes I thought that photo of the twisted rocks might hook people in to read the post ...

I probably should do a post on the movement of the super-continents over time ... and how England and Scotland are joined now - they weren't for many millions of years. Yes Brazil does fit comfortably into the coast of Africa doesn't it - explaining that these theoretically solid continents do move around ...

Thanks so much to you all - I'm delighted you're enjoying the geology I include into the posts ... cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

It's so amazing the effect the Earth's upheaval causes! Love seeing the picture of the folded twisted rock. When I first saw it, it reminded me of the rings of a felled tree.

Elsie Amata said...

Not sure if you know this, but I live near the coast too. It is stark contrast to this coast line and so amazing how different places around the world can be. I love the picture of the village. Reminds me of when I lived in a tiny town in Germany. So lovely.

Karen Lange said...

Lovely photos and descriptions! Thank you - I always sort of feel as if we're starveling with you. You make it come alive. :) Have a wonderful week!

A Heron's View said...

Hilary, I admit to being overly enthusiastic in regard to Sir Walter Raleigh.

In the first paragraph of C.K. Westward Ho! it says " that England owes the foundation of her naval and commercial glory. It was the men of Devon, the Drakes and Hawkins', Gilberts and Raleighs, Grenvilles and Oxenhams"

Interestingly the place named as Westward Ho! was only founded in the year 1867 and was named after the book.

Bish Denham said...

You have definitely left me with a "feel" for the place. Geology is such a fascinating thing. I've been collecting rocks since I was a kid, maybe should have been a geologist...

The place is beautiful.

Chrys Fey said...

Those rocks are neat. Mother nature can sure have an effect on rock over years. It's incredible how such things can change with climate and time.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My daughter took a geology class last semester and she told me how the mountains near us are the same chain as the ones in Europe. All that happened so long ago but all the evidence is right in front of us.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Very interesting, Hilary. To think the violence caused to moved these continents. They recently discovered that the rocks of Newfoundland are present in Africa, which lead them to believe that the island broke away at one point. Fascinating.

Your photograph drives home the impact and awesomeness of what happened.

Joanne said...

"Area of Outstanding Beauty" indeed. Wow. I would like to have heard the gushing waterfall or the pounding surf. One can picture the struggles to NOT become a shipwrecked mess. Most informative - thanks.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Amazing stories, Hilary. I love the photo of the twisted rocks. It looks like an art piece! Thank you for visiting my blog!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Elizabeth - yes understanding how each continent arrived where it is - is quite extraordinary and mind boggling. The twisted rocks do in some way look like tree rings ... too true ...

@ Elsie - most coastlines vary hugely - this coastline is nothing like I've seen before. The village street was very small .. and they are amazing ... settlements in the 'middle of nowhere' ..

@ Karen - wonderful word "Starveling" - I had to look it up .. and now understand the context ... Shakespeare and starvation of knowledge ... delighted you can feel yourself there ...

@ Mel - shows you how little I know of the book Westward Ho! But fascinating to see the list of people ... I don't know if you saw my South Zeal post ... which features The Oxenham Arms, which has these famous connections ... I'll go over and put a link in back to part 4 of my tour. I came across the Grenvilles ... but that history may have been a bridge too far to write about, with all the other things ...

But thank you for inserting the snippet about the town ... I hadn't picked that up either ... it's great we can learn from our readers and commenters - so grateful!

@ Bish - I'm glad you got the "feel" of the place .. geology is such a great subject - wish I knew more .. but I learn here as I post. What fun to hear you've got a rock collection ... I remember dragging rocks and pebbles back - no please put it down!! we don't want to carry it ... Mum's words to us kids!

@ Chrys - mother nature is awesome, and I'm so pleased someone else is able to become an expert and then tell us about these things ... and they get interpreted for us.

@ Susan - it's interesting what we learn, and when .. you with your daughter ... certainly some of the rocks are the same ... they can trace things via the plants too .. and fossils - as you say the evidence is all around.

@ Joylene - the earth's crust and mantle moving - must take massive force - which we mere mortals couldn't stand .. the rocks survived = just!

I know Scotland was attached to Labrador .. and there is a break off of one of the continents, which is now down the east of Canada and North America ... Scotland and England becoming attached on the other side of the Ocean.

Photos do bring these things to light ... and show us how it all works ...

@ Joanne - yes we have that designation for various parts of our country... there is meant to be no man-made disturbance and we keep nature as it's found - not disturbed.

The photos and other descriptions of the shipwrecks made me want to cringe ... I'd definitely be out there ... saying 'not me please', 'not me please!' ... am glad you enjoyed the post ...

@ Monti - I'm sure, as an artist, you'd be inspired by these rock scenes - rough, textured, sharp, cruel ... etc ... pleasure to come over to the blog ...

Cheers and thank you for being interested in how we've moved around the globe!! I will do a write up on the continental drift across millennia ... Hilary

Vallypee said...

I knew nothing of the geological history of the west country, Hilary, even though I lived there for so many years.. Reading this has taught me a lot! I love the photos and images. What a dramatic fractured coast it is indeed. Very beautiful but always being buffeted by something!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

"Turn left" indeed!
What a gorgeous coastline -- and well worth a detour!

We should all turn left more often.

cleemckenzie said...

When you see what the earth can contort itself into, you realize just how puny we humans are. We lose all the battles with the old girl, Gaea. I'm such a geology nut that I carry a small book called Roadside Geology along on road trips. The history of mountains and gullies is fascinating.

TexWisGirl said...

pretty amazing rough territory! i'd hate to sail those waters.

Nick Wilford said...

All these landscape changes are very dramatic and their effects are beautiful. Great to see it up close.

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

I most certainly got a feel for the place, my kind friend. Of course, but with such detail as you bestow upon us, I have a fondness for the West Country and your posts have brought back some wonderful memories.

The West Country, beautiful and alluring, such as the grandeur and beauty of Vancouver Island, a wondrous place I've been to many a time.

Cheers and stay warm, Hilary. The threat of snow is in the air for the end of the week.

Gary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Val - this part of the West Country .. that we think of as granite cliffs and moorland ... completely changed my knowledge base.

@ Dianne - yes it was a very good suggestion "turn left" ... and as you say something we should all do more often.

@ Lee - the planet is constantly changing ... over much slower time frames - but it is always moving ... and we totter on top of it - and as you say looking puny in the process. That's amazing that you carry your Roadside Geology book with you ... because as you mention much can be ascertained via the mountains and gullies - or coast and valleys.

@ Theresa - I'm not the best sailor, so I'd be a worried soul sailing up near the coastline - like you ... rough it is ...

@ Nick - it's interesting that it's mudstones and sandstones - the weather has really highlighted their fragilities over the course of time-weathering ...

@ Gary - I'm glad you're enjoying the journey with me .. and the tour is bringing back some happy memories. The West Country definitely has its own unique charm ... while Vancouver Island has a huge diversity of geology and interest too. Having been once to the west coast of Canada .. I'd love to go back sometime. Snow - it quite often happens in January .. I await it - but it is much colder.

Cheers to you all - it's wonderful to have your interested comments - thanks so much .. Hilary

mail4rosey said...

You have some of the best blog posts I've read. I think that every time I visit, but I'm not sure I've ever said it!! Now I have said it. :)

I like how you inform but on a personal note. Makes it a pleasure to read. Have a great rest of the week!

-Rosey

Karen Walker said...

Did I miss the part of this saga wherein you tell us who Jenny is?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey - gosh thank you so much ... I enjoy what I do - and if I make others happy that's even better. I seem to have evolved a style ... not sure why or how - but as it seems to work - I'll stick with it. I really appreciate your comment ...

@ Karen - I have mentioned Jenny is my mother's cousin and lives on Vancouver Island ... and was here visiting relatives, and having a trip around the West Country seeing places she's never seen, and following, at times, Emily's footsteps - which has been fascinating.

Cheers to the two of you ... Hilary

Ann Best said...

Turning left was the way to go! Isn't it true...that an unexpected life turn can mean "all the difference." Have always wanted to tour England. Your posts are the next best thing!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Hilary!
Kingsley is indeed a wordsmith par excellence! What beautiful descriptions! I'm so glad you heeded the cry to turn left and shared your experience with us. Thank you as always.(And I see you drew a comment from our darling Ann Best! How exciting!)

Denise :-)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Ann - how wonderful to see you ... what a wonderful time to return .. we'll catch up on email shortly. Turning left was the way to go - the unexpected is a good choice to grab hold of ... and many thanks re my posts ... I hope you and Jen can enjoy the vicarious tour with me.

@ Denise - the Kingsley quote was a great one to be directed across to ... and yes I'll be happy turning left again to see what's down the lane or lanes as in this case.

It was wonderful to see Ann's comment ... good to hear from her ..

Cheers to you both from a coldish, but bright sunny Eastbourne .. Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

Such a cool and interesting post. Pangaea, plate tectonics, the Jurassic period, ice age, all some of my favourite subjects in school.
The photos are magnificent as usual.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jeffrey - it's amazing being able to find out so much about our land, and what lies beneath us ... I too love learning more things about those subjects. Am glad the photos helped show some of the effects ...

Cheers Hilary

London AirporTransfers said...

Good Compilation of details about Westward.I've found many interesting points to learn from your post!!! thanks for sharing your Experience.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Maggie - I must do more about Westward Ho! sometime .. Hilary