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Thursday, 20 February 2014

Westward Ho! Storm Damage - Beach Exploring

We have just come back from a 1/2 term trip to visit my Mum in North Devon. We arrived on Sunday and it was such a lovely day we had a quick lunch & headed straight out for a walk on the beach. Westward Ho! was always our favourite beach when I was a child, I remember many happy days building sand castles, body boarding & rock pooling . Both my Dad & Gran worked on a holiday camp their as well. We last visited North Devon back in August when Mum & I took the boys rock pooling. I can't believe how much difference 6 months makes to a beach. I know we have had some of the worst storms in years but neither mum or I have ever seen Westward Ho! beach like this!

Mini golf course after storm

When we arrived we parked by the slipway & immediately noticed that the mini golf & go karting had been covered in pebbles! The storm had taken the top 2 metres off of the pebble ridge! I think it must have also taken a couple of feet of sand from the beach as well as these boards from old breakers were previously not visible just the posts at the top. The whole beach has been affected, It is normally a 2 mile beach of almost pure sand backed by the pebbleridge. The storms have dumped tons of pebbles on the beach, exposed the under bed of clay, a pre-historic submerged forest & 2 shipwrecks!

Exposed breaker
Joseph (5) stood on the Submerged Forest
The pebbleridge is of natural formation where the rocks from cliff falls at Abbortsham & Heartland are formed in to pebbles by the sea & carried by currents & 'spat' out on the beach. Although in more recent years it has been shored up by diggers & extra pebbles to protect the burrows.

Daniel (3) & Nanny having fun

Sunday was such a nice day really sunny & hardly any wind I couldn't believe its February It was much nicer than many summer days I've had down there. Or perhaps its just that my expectations are lower in the winter? The boys were dressed in their waterproofs & wellies & had so much fun climbing over all the pebbles & clay ridges. They couldn't resist jumping in the pools & puddles formed by the clay & both managed to fill their wellies with water! The high tides & storms have also washed up lots of really nice shells, bigger & more variety than I can normally find on a UK beach, they will make a great addition to our small world play. We also found a few pieces of coal, one was very big & the boys instead we bring it home & its now in Nanny's garden!

Shipwreck found on Sunday

We had such a great walk on the Sunday that when the weather (& tides) looked good on the Tuesday we went back again. We took a picnic lunch which we ate on the pebble ridge while we waited for the tide to go out. This time we parked on Northam burrows (which is free this time of year), though much of the car park is under water & most of the concrete bridge that makes walking across the ridge easy has been covered by pebbles. As the level of the burrows car park is higher than that of the sand on the other side of the ridge the water can be seen running underneath the pebbles & is then forming pools at the bottom of the ridge & then running out to sea.

Uncovered Posts

After our lunch we headed out along the beach, picking up more shells & discovering lots of old wooden posts that had been uncovered. I find it very intriguing as to what they were. Lots were single posts (maybe signs) some were old breakers, others maybe old life guard platforms. The strangest was this line of posts running horizontally with the ridge not far from the 'bridge'. I was attempting to walk back the beach to find the ship wreck we had seen on Sunday (just as the tide was coming in) and to see if I could find the other wreck that I'd read about on goggle, but the boys just wanted to dig & play so mum stayed with them whilst I walked further up the beach. I found the wreck from Sunday & then closer to the slipway (but further out to sea) the bigger wreck I'd read about. The biggest wreck is thought to have been Sally of Bristol wrecked in 1769 & has been uncovered periodically & been mentioned in local press dating back to the 1850's. The smaller wreck has only been uncovered in more recent years & is thought to be late 18th century or early 17th century. more details on the wrecks & the history of Westward Ho! can be found at Westward Ho History.

Smaller Shipwreck
Large Shipwreck - View of the village in the background
Large Wreck - from the front
Whilst playing with mum the boys found this pool with a clay ledge. By the time I came back they were busy connecting other pools & floating sticks along. They ended up playing at this pool for over an hour and a half were covered in sand and again soaking wet! Though this time I'd put the cuffs of their waterproofs on the outside of their boots which stopped a little of the water getting in. The had dry feet but wet ankles & sleeves! Daniel cried nearly all the way back to the car as he didn't want to leave the pool!

Did you know that Westward Ho! is the only place in the UK to have an exclamation mark & was named after the book by Charles Kingsley.

If you visit with your kids please be careful as some of the 'pools' that have been uncovered look  very deep but are murky so don't look much different to kids. Hopefully these will be covered over by summer when the kids are playing in the sea.

We are all looking forward to going back down in the summer to see how its changed again. How have the storms affected your area?

x Jo x

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  1. Thanks for that. Interesting and perhaps you would like to write a piece for Bideford Buzz sometime.
    NB Exclamation mark! (not explanation mark)

    1. Hi Rose, oops that will teach me for writing / proof reading whilst looking after the boys! More than happy to write for Bideford Buzz or for you to use any of my pics. I live up in Bristol now, but my mum still lives in Instow.

    2. Thanks Jo sorry to be such a pedant!

  2. What a great post and how amazing to be able to see the shipwrecks so clearly after the storms! Beaches are wonderful places to explore at the best of times but Westward Ho! seems to have lots of treasures to discover. Thanks for linking up and sharing your beach explorations and fun with Country Kids.

    1. Thanks, we are now really looking forward to our easter trip to Dorset fossil hunting!

  3. Wow what a great post and stunning photos, it seems so much has changed after the storms.

    Thank you for linking up

    1. Thanks, wish i had a better camera these were taken on my 5mp phone!

  4. What a great example of using the natural world to teach children. Better than anything that could be done on a classroom that's for sure. Great post.