Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bideford Bay Beachcombing

Wind Chill Factor Westward Ho! -3rd January 2010. All photos,articles copyright P. M. Adams North Devon Focus all rights reserved. It’s freezing cold but dry and sunny so perfect for a New Year stroll on the beach at Westward Ho! At the slipway we move aside for three horse riders taking advantage of the two mile stretch of firm sand and a rare opportunity to enjoy an uninterrupted gallop. The tide is a long way out thus exposing the hulk of one, of two, rarely visible Westward Ho! wrecks. Took some photos from different angles but my hands were so numb with the cold that I couldn’t actually feel the shutter button. As I was testing a new lens, I decided to take close up shots and made my way up the beach, head down searching for interesting sand formations, sea creatures, seaweed, shells and pebbles on the lower and middle shoreline moving towards the strandline and the Pebble Ridge. Even after recent storms this is a wonderful clean beach worthy of its’ Blue Flag status. We spent about an hour beachcombing and saw plenty of razor shells, periwinkles, whelks, mussels, tiny crabs and other crustaceans, kelp, wrack, sea urchins and lots of sea potatoes. Sea pototoes or heart-urchins are, weirdly, heart-shaped and covered in fur! They are normally hidden beneath the sand and only appear on the surface when washed up after stormy weather. Suddenly the noise of the wind and crashing surf was completely drowned out by the loud thundering hooves of the horses as they galloped back down the beach from Sandymere. Only three horses, but the sound carried some distance so one can only imagine the sound of the 500 horses in the Charge of the Light Brigade. The beach is still practically deserted, a few dog walkers, one lone hardy surfer and one kite buggy circling far off beside the sand dunes. Northam Burrows Country Park is beyond the Pebble Ridge at Westward Ho! on the Atlantic Heritage Coast. The Northam Burrows Country Park, at the mouth of the Taw Torridge Estuary, is a designated site of scientific interest and forms part of the United Nations Biosphere Reserve. If you can identify any of the shorelife in these pictures please let us know.

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