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The Walk

Map of the Walk

Bolberry Down and Bolt Tail

A beautiful walk passing the same pub three times. Knowing that the first thing you will want to know is what sort of rocks can be seen there I am happy to tell you that they are alternating mica and hornblende schists - in places bearing rich iron content and in places single iron pyrite cubes.

Bolberry Soar

Starting at the National Trust car park (near The Port Light Pub) we walk south east along cathole cliffs for about 0.8 mile. Please note that the name is "cathole" and not "cats hole" which is something far from pleasant to look at. At very low tide it is possible to see the old boilers of a shipwreck at the foot of the cliffs. For those interested in old boilers, some can be found in the Hope and Anchor Inn at Hope Cove on Bingo night.

After admiring the view of Soar Mill Cove and visualizing the four masted barque "Herzogin Cecilie" running aground there we will turn and walk North West, back to the pub and beyond for 2.33 miles.

On the way we will pass Easton's Mine situated at the foot of a 400 foot cliff. The mine is 200 years old and in a dangerous and decaying state.

eastons1

However, it does have lots of pretty stalactites and cth made the climb on two occasions.

Eastons2

Once the climb was made in wet wintry conditions and a bottle of rum was taken to warm things up. Sadly half way down the cliff the bottle decided to go on ahead and was never seen again. However the smell that hung around the mine for hours afterwards was truly delicious. I have every confidence that I could still climb down but would need the assistance of a Chinook to get back up.

A little further is the impressive panorama of Bigbury bay - on good days with views to the Lizard in Cornwall. Click on the picture for a larger version.

bay

We are approaching the site of one of the Navy's biggest disasters. The 90 gun HMS Ramillies was wrecked at here on 15 February 1760. Of her crew of around 850 men, all were lost except for twenty seamen and one midshipman. I have recently discovered that the sinking of the vessel became the subject of a popular contemporary folk song, The Loss of the Ramillies, a version of which has recently been recorded by English folk band Brass Monkey. I am not surprised because it is very cold on Bolt Tail in the winter. Apparently the Captain went off his head striding around the poop deck declaming to the heavens while the storm raged about him and the ship was crashing on the rocks. He had the feeling I used to get during tutor times. The wreck is a popular diving site because of all the cannons. With the navy cutbacks there is a move to raise these in case of invasion and to line them up along the cliffs.

The next thing of interest is the Iron Age promontory fort. The rampart is still visible and archaeologists have been know to get excited by the accompanying ditch. From here we can look down on Barney Bank which has the distinction of being the only place where the Spanish came ashore albeit with the help of a storm blowing the Armada galleon on to the rocks. There are many gory tales told about the behaviour of the locals - bearing in mind that they are mostly staunch conservatives I believe them. It was off season and the holiday homes were empty so looting and wrecking seemed another good form of exploitation.

barney

I could go on and on and probably will if we go here but on reaching Bolt Tail and having been overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the place we wend our weary way back to the pub and then descend into the bosom of Hope Cove. Those in control of the village have carefully endeavored to remove any trace of charm from the place by squeezing houses into every patch of green. These of course are not needed for anything as vulgar as housing local people. We are in the South Hams and the old fiefdom of Anthony Steen. They are holiday homes. In the winter they stand out like corpses. The cold windows like empty eye sockets. The roads are jammed with 4 x 4s towing inflatables (boats - not you know what). Ignore these invaders and look to the sea. It is still a stunning place.

I think I have just had a rant. JS will be pleased.