Wednesday, 27 January 2016

West Country Tour … Lynton and Lynmouth, as too Exmoor … part 15 …

Lynton was the original ‘town’ on the steep hillsides of the Lyn valleys – the two rivers that cascaded down the gorge meeting at Lynmouth … we too made the dramatic descent.

Lyn River

A lot of stories emanate from these villages or the hinterland of the North Devon coast … where Exmoor finally reaches the sea.  We had a quick wander around … and certainly it is a place I’d love to return to, to see and learn some more.

Lovely twisty narrow Devon lane

As with Hartland Quay, Clovelly, Ilfracombe and now Lynmouth, Porlock and Watchet … those tiny harbours were no match for the storm winds … but lifeboat men will not give up …

Representation of boat being hauled
up the hill(s) 
… the heroic rescue of “the Louisa” in January 1899 … the lifeboat men hauled the Lynmouth lifeboat up and over the hills – and they are mean hills (even today!) … extraordinary effort to save 18 men … “The Strange and Heroic Journey of the Louisa” can be read here: well worth a read.

The caption states the photo was taken from the
Rising Sun and shows a Wolsey car stuck in the flood
... the visitor had come from Manchester (1952)

The Lynmouth flood of 1952 changed the village for ever … Exmoor was waterlogged … letting loose a wall of water and debris into the culverted river as it exited to the sea.  Disaster struck …

Showing where the two rivers met in 1952;
they now meet higher up the valley beyond the bridge;
the rivers are 3 times wider than they used to be.
… over 100 buildings were destroyed or damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea.  34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless.  Similar events had been recorded at Lynmouth in 1607 and 1796.  But after this disaster in 1952, the village was rebuilt including diverting the river around the village.

There is a small museum dedicated to the disaster, as too a memorial garden at the place where a few houses were destroyed, but never rebuilt.

Showing the funicular
A cable-connected car, using a counterbalance system, on gravity, using water tanks … connects the two villages eliminating the walk up hill, or down steep hillsides.  The funicular opened in 1890, is 862 feet (263 m) long, operating on a 1 in 1.75 gradient track.

Lynmouth was described by Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 1788) - artist, who honeymooned here with his bride, Margaret, as “the most delightful place for a landscape painter this country can boast”.

Looking back towards Lynton and Lynmouth

Apparently another honeymooner here in 1812 was the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley with his 16 year old bride, Harriet - his first wife.

The South West Coast Path and Tarka Trail pass through, while three other trails start or terminate at Lynmouth:  Two Moors Way, the Samaritans Way South West, and the Coleridge Way.

Valley of the Rocks
In late 1797, Coleridge and Wordsworth visited the Valley of the Rocks – a dry valley running parallel to the coast – which is just to the west of Lynton.  R D Blackmore set part of Lorna Doone, first published in 1869, in the valley … some of the chapters being written in the Rising Sun – which we visit next time.

Castle Rock  - as seen by Southey

Robert Southey was a visitor in 1799 … describing the landscape as “covered with huge stones ... the very bones and skeletons of the earth; rock reeling upon rock, stone piled upon stone, a huge terrific mass”.

Eros Rock in the Lynton formation
with feral goat grazing

It is noted for its feral goats and for its geology (the Lynton Beds) … periglacial features are found here reflecting the limit of glaciation during the last ice age.

There’s a delightful Lynmouth/Exmoor National Park Centre open to events, talks for the community and visitors to explore and celebrate the fascinating heritage in the area.

Exmoor logo - they have endangered
Red Deer on the Moor

While we are here Exmoor deserves a mention … as our journey skirted round the Moor … but there are brilliant walks (on the moor and coastline), magnificent scenery, interesting geology, ancient woodland, heath and blanket mire (bog) … all of which provide different habitats for a variety of and some scarce flora and fauna.

Royal Forests across England 1327 - 1336

The National Park, so designated in 1954, is primarily an upland area with a dispersed population living mainly in small villages and hamlets.

Exmoor was a Royal Forest and hunting ground covering 18,810 acres (7,610 hectares) which was sold off in 1818 – more details can be found in Wiki.

Late October 2015 - rambling roses still
in flower and happily growing - shows us how
lucky we were with the weather.

Exmoor has evidence of human occupation from the Mesolithic era – about 8,000 years ago; there are over 800 miles of local paths; 267 square miles of wild landscape; and more than 5,000 species supported by the diverse range of habitat.

We needed more time to look a little closer, for the area boasts an impressive history that is not only diverse, but is surprising, fascinating and most of all - notable.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Blogoratti said...

Really interesting facts and stories. Many thanks for sharing those amazing photos. Greetings!

A Heron's View said...

I was a small boy living in Somerset at the time of the Lynton disaster and my parents had arranged a coach trip for the guests of our Guesthouse to make a visit there which had to be cancelled. I well remember the kerfuffle that went on about getting refunds for their fares.

By the way did you manage to make a visit Culbone Church on Exmoor?

Gattina said...

I have seen a documentary about the Lynmouth flood of 1952. It was terrible, how helpless we are when it comes to flood !

Diane said...

Another very interesting post, well done Hilary. We left the UK in 1953, I wonder if the floods had anything to do with encouraging mu folks to leave, though I don't think so. Hope you are well Diane

Lynn said...

I'm enjoying your travels, Hilary! I would love to see some of those places like those beautiful coastlines, but thankful I get to see them through your eyes.

Out on the prairie said...

I am envious of all the amazing finds you have shared. The bones of the earth is a great way to describe the coastline.We share a lot of interests with history and geological development.

Crystal Collier said...

Those views are absolutely breathtaking. I would build a house there and live in the middle of nowhere just to wake up to that skyline every day. Wow!

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh! Both Shelley and Southey? Do you know if Byron was ever with them? Funny, when we were in Edinburgh we came across a wee plaque of where Shelley stayed with Mary, after he'd left (ditched might be a more appropriate term...) Harriet.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Well, Gainsborough knew what he was talking about, didn't he? Utterly captivating landscapes! As usual your photos are amazing. And the stories that go with are just as lovely - the flood a bit sad though, but sad dims into nicely poignant with time.

Susan Scott said...

Such an extraordinary history and my deep respect for those men who were in great danger as they travelled over hill and dale to bring lifeboats to those in distress and saved lives. Sad about Exmoor and the aftermath; good that the river inter alia was diverted ...

Thank you Hilary - lovely post. Also what the writers and artists and poets said about it.

Bob Scotney said...

Another fascinating post, Hilary. I remember reading about the Lynmouth disaster in 1952 - Bocastle was to happen much later. Interesting to see the map of Royal Forests and to learn that Pickering appears to have been the largest in the country at the time.
Lorna Doone was a favourite read of mine in the 50s also.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a beautiful area. And the tragic flooding would make a great setting for a story.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Blogoratti - glad you enjoyed the post and the photos ...

@ Mel - how interesting to read some 'current' history re the Lynton disaster. Getting the news to your parents/coach company must have been difficult. I remember our phone line round about that era - a big black box ... with not many calls coming through.

I'm sure there'd have been a lot of admin type kerfuffle (love that word!) posting everyone their refunds.

No, we didn't get to Culbone Church .. we didn't stray too much - if at all .. just checked out the places Emily might have visited and ones Jenny particularly wanted to see. But I can quite see how fascinating Culbone Church would be ... I'll add a bit in to my Minehead post - which I have yet to draft up. Thanks for that extra info ...

@ Gattina – yes and there was a more recent one at Boscastle, where the Witches’ Museum is located – that I mentioned in my A-Z posts last year.

@ Diane – there was also the bad storm surge in the North Sea and Channel, January 1953 ... that swamped the east coast causing quite a few deaths, but far worse was the damage in the Netherlands, where I think 1800 died. I have written about that too. The Lynmouth flood was August 53.

Maybe your parents thought there was more opportunity overseas … those ration/war years must have been very difficult.

@ Lynn – delighted to read you’re enjoying all these posts … and are getting a flavour of our countryside … seen through my eyes.

@ Steve – it’s fascinating to find – and a delight! – that so many bloggers are interested in the posts I write. Southey had a great way with words … and yes describing the landscape as ‘bones of the earth’ is very clever – the two photos I posted reflect his description perfectly.

I’m lucky you and other commenters share that love of history and geology … and then literature too … all grist to the blogging mill.

@ Crystal – the views are breathtaking … and Lynmouth was built because there was no room left in the valley, where Lynton was built … so I think you’d be very unlikely to find space to build!! But I’m sure you could buy … but I’d check out the road sizes first?!?!

@ Deniz – I’m not sure .. but I don’t think so – different time frames … but I’ll send you the links where I got the information from. Yes – poor Harriet … I don’t much about Shelley’s history …

… but certainly people travelled ‘far and wide’ in those days – long journeys … the train wasn’t around then.

@ Nila – yes Gainsborough was obviously enamoured by the scenery … frankly difficult not to be down on that Devon coast. Glad the photos bring something extra to the post and to the various storylines …

The flood at the time must have been devastating … but as you say ‘sad’ dims into poignant with time.

@ Susan – anyone living in those areas, before the car, really had to work to move around – so moving a lifeboat up and down those hills was no mean feat. They did save their lives though.

The flood shows what havoc rain can wreak at times … but they seem to have made the right decision to reconfigure the two rivers and get them around the town.

I’m happy the painters, writers and poets are appreciated too.

@ Bob – thank you I was remembering Boscastle too … and that was only 12 years ago (2004) … seems longer than that. I don’t remember reading about the Lynmouth flood – though I’m sure I’ve come across it .. but it didn’t register.

I’m glad the Royal Forest map was a good one to put up – just made sense so one can see where the Royal Forests were …

Yes I read Lorna Doone – but it deserves another read by me!

@ Susan - it is a stunning part of the world. The flooding so soon after the war must have been difficult for the villagers ...

Thank so much to you all – fascinating to have the extra comments and additional snippets of conversation added in – always appreciated … cheers Hilary

Inger said...

How wonderful to see you out and about, exploring that lovely and dramatic part of England. As always, so informative, so well-written. Take care.

Margie said...

Happy New Year dear Hilary
Hope it's a wonderful one for you!

It's always a pleasure to read your fascinating posts!

(I am off on a little adventure with hubby and jake in our motor home (which we got last Fall) starting tomorrow and gone for about a month, heading up to Texas )

See 'ya later

Patsy said...

It does seem a suitable area for poets - and other writers. The changes, history, power of sea and river, scenery, people - there's no shortage of inspiration.

Chrys Fey said...

Lyn looks like a beautiful place.I wish in could explore England as you do but I'll just have to stick with living vicariously through your posts. ;)

Joanne said...

so lovely and tempting to stay. I don't know how the poets and authors could find the time to write - I'd still be wandering the land in awe.
Glad they could recover from that horrible disaster - wow.

M Pax said...

I would love to visit there. Hauling that boat over the hills looks exhausting. Those are some strong dudes. And that cable car is really interesting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That goat photobombed the picture.
Smart idea to divert the river. Either that or move the town!

Denise Covey Writer said...

Hi Hilary. I'd love to have a couple of months to meander around Britain in the footsteps of history. Meanwhile, i'm lapping up your posts. Thank you. :-)

MunirGhiasuddin said...

Who could say that such a serene place would have had floods. I love that picture of Castle Rock and Lynton and Lynmouth. Thanks for sharing.

Mark said...

So picturesque! Wish I was there now:)

Jo said...

I remember the Lynmouth disaster. I had the impression a mud slide was a large part of the problem. Maybe my memory isn't serving me well here.

Lovely part of the world. Matt and I had weather like that in November in Cornwall many years ago. I was even paddling.

beste barki said...

What lovely places, Hilary. Big disasters such as the Lynmouth flood are kind of dramatic coming of age stories for communites, aren't they?

Shannon Lawrence said...

Love that picture of Castle Rock! I'm interested to read more about the boat they dragged up the hill.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger – this was all last year, when Jenny was over … but I thought I’d write up about the trip and add in snippets of a variety of interesting items I found out about as I journeyed. It seems to be taking on a life of its own – this tour!

@ Margie – Happy New Year to you too … it looks like you’re starting your year off well on a journey with your hubby – enjoy it. Texas I’m sure is lovely to travel around in.

@ Patsy – certainly there are lots of visitors here from recent times and going back in history ... when there was no easy travel. Exactly as you say … lots of change and thus lots of inspiration.

@ Chrys – Britain has some amazing places to see … but I’m happy you’re enjoying this vicarious journey …

@ Joanne – yes it does make one wonder how they found time to write …but I guess notebook in hand .. they’d write on the ‘hoof’. If I got up there I’d be staying there a-while!

The flood through the tiny valley certainly impacted heavily … but like all disasters – life does go on.

@ Mary – the lifeboat men’s dedication in rescuing those stricken sailors does say much doesn’t it ... I hope you had a chance to read the article about the rescue and what it entailed.

@ Alex – yes ... photo-bombed the shot – but shows what the wild goats look like. They certainly couldn’t move the town – those hills are lethal, and the expansion was at the River Mouth … no more land available.

@ Denise – the meandering is the thing … taking time and exploring all the tiny places … we do have lots of history – but I’m delighted you’re enjoying the posts.

@ Munir – rivers, even streams, can so easily become raging torrents as here. The Castle Rock and the villages are very pretty aren’t they.

@ Mark – good to see you …

@ Jo – it was a wall of water and debris and there would have been lots of mud too. I know you and Matt had fun down in Cornwall when you were first married … we’re on the edge of Devon/Somerset here.

@ Beste – so pleased you enjoyed the images. Big disasters do bring communities together ... but so soon after the War and still in ration time – must have made it tough for everyone.

@ Shannon – I’m glad I found the Castle Rock picture ... and I hope you had a chance to read the article about the lifeboat being hauled up more than one hill, and held back as they went down.

Thanks so much – delighted you enjoyed this visit to Lynmouth and Lynton. Cheers Hilary

A Cuban In London said...

I loved your photos as much as I loved all the information you have given us. Every time I come to your blog I feel enriched. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Vallypee said...

Ah, Lynmouth. That is one of the places I remember well. It really is so gorgeous around there, but yes, it's tough country and the storms are hard. Lovely photos and history, Hilary! Thank you!

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

wonderfully informative.
thank you for sharing.

have a blessed day

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ ACIL - that's great ... it's always lovely to know you enjoy the info with the accompanying photos .. many thanks.

@ Val - it is gorgeous ... but exactly as you say 'tough' terrain and the storms I'd imagine would be hard ... we didn't experience those. Excellent you enjoyed the photos with accompanying snippets of history ...

@ Rhapsody - am happy you enjoyed the post -

Cheers to you all on this blustery stormy day - Hilary

Christine Rains said...

Absolutely gorgeous landscape. I could wander through there exploring for days. Thanks for sharing with us and have a lovely weekend.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What deliciously exquisite scenery! As beautiful as it looks in your pictures, I can only imagine how much more breathtaking it is in person.

Growing up near the water, I know how horrific floods can be. It's wonderful that diverting the rivers has been a success story. It doesn't always work out that way.

Have a super weekend. Cheers!

Julie Flanders said...

Based on these scenery pics it's easy to see why poets and artists were drawn to this place. How stunning.
And I love the feral goats!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I was close to there, but enough to recognize the scenery. Beautiful photos, Hilary. Loved hearing of the history, even though it was horrendous for the people living then. Water is a force to be reckoned with.

Stephen Tremp said...

I'd like to ride in the cable-connected car and see the feral goats. Its fun to see goats and rams climb impossible cliffs. Thanks for sharing!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Christine - I agree I think you'd take days wandering around .. it's so pretty. The landscape is stunning ... in its English way ...

@ Susan - it was a lovely visit .. and I really need to go back when I have more time ... but we certainly saw some fascinating areas.

Floods of all sorts are frightening .. as we're finding out now ... and debilitating to the landscape and properties, let alone the human aspects of dealing with it all.

@ Julie - good to see you back blogging again. The word must have got out - I'm always amazed how far people travelled in those days - the landscape drew them to visit. The feral goat was a good find for the picture ..

@ Joylene - yes you would have seen similar landscape when you were over: it's good to remember your visit through the posts and photos here. Glad the history interested you - though it was frightening to see how much damage was caused. Horrendous .. as you say - water is a force to be reckoned with .. as too the sea.

@ Stephen - we didn't do the funicular ... but it was good to know about it for next time ... if I ever get there?! I agree the goats are amazing seeing them clamber up and down steep hillsides, or mountain slopes ...

Thanks so much - delighted you're all still travelling with me .. cheers Hilary

Guilie Castillo said...

What a wonderful place... The story of the Louisa is fascinating; thanks for sharing the link. So difficult for us, today, with all our tech stuff and GPS and heavy machinery, to imagine facing nature head-on like that. And I'm not surprised that so many creative souls have found inspiration in this landscape... It's material for legends. Thank you so much for sharing, Hilary.
Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

DMS said...

Looks like a place that will really get visitors thinking. I liked learning about the history and the museum must be fascinating. Such a beautiful town and setting- I can see why it has been visited by so many people throughout history. The roses are just gorgeous. Thanks for taking us to another delightful spot. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Guilie - it was a wonderful area to visit ... so I'm glad you enjoyed the link. To put ourselves in their shoes is so so difficult ... our lives are the same, yet are so different. I've found it fascinating how far people have travelled to walk the landscape out of interest and inspiration .. not just for necessity as the early peoples did. Appreciate the comment.

@ Jess - I would hope people will get thinking .. and won't just wander around to 'look see'. The roses were a delight to see in late October - definitely not usual. The visitors are so interesting to find out about ...

Cheers to you both - really loved the comments and your thoughts ... Hilary