Mouth of The Erme

11/01/2017 - 21:56

Fernycombe Point with Beacon Point beyond - across the mouth of the River Erme - from the sublime Meadowsfoot Beach.




A winter wander along the Erme estuary at Meadowsfoot, nr Mothecombe, always a delightful feast for the sense. It is a place for savouring the remarkable geology, the brackish tang in the air, the grand space of one of South Devon's finest beaches.



Naturally corrugated metamorphic Phyllite rocks, amongst the areas more common Dartmouth Slates.




These rocks, warped by ancient volcanic activity and the tectonic upheaval of the Variscan orogeny, are in a zawn through the reef - at Owen's Point.



The Variscan Orogeny was a mountain-building epoch of the Late Paleozoic era, due to a continental collision between Laurussia and Gondwana to form the supercontinent of Pangaea. Many of the sedimentary & metamorphic rocks along this coastline have been rotated steeply and at times folded by the immense tectonic and plutonic forces of the past, this has created fascinating forms on both grand scales and in intimate details. The orogeny also gave rise to a vast Alpine range of limestone mountains, up to 3000m above sea level - that once sat above the moors, long since weathered away. How wonderful would it be to have such mountain country on the peninsula of the Westcountry? To stand atop lofty snow capped mountains with ocean views. The smoothed Appalachians mountains of America are the last significant high country remnants of this once vast and majestic chain of peaks.




Hazy winter transient light at Owen's Point, Meadowsfoot Beach



Rockpools clear as glass abound and the reef offers some great opportunities for climbers - with bouldering ascents & traverses all around, Beware though - the bands of tilted metamorphic rock often form thin fins at the top, so graceful climbing is the order of the day rather than a dynamic lunge for the top, as it can be friable! The textured nature of the rocks are a joy to climb.




Winter afternoon light percolating into a zawn in the slate and phyllite reef of Owen's Point



The steep metamorphic diagonals, in the photograph above, juxtaposed with the corduroy lines of the waves, along with the lateral sinuosity of the marble lines in the stone at the bottom, appealed to me.



Portals - such as coastal zawns and the sunken green lane holloways - have such an ensconcing nature, and are always a draw to me. conduits through the land from which the light beyond beckons us further. A chance to walk into the landscape rather than on or over it.


Owen's Point - across the Erme estuary, to Malthouse Point on Wonwell beach




In past autumns and winters, I have surfed waves here in excellent tall & steep peeling waves - kayaking & bodyboarding with friends, in these wonderfully characterful surroundings. Other times we have sat beside campfires, listening to the hum of the waves breaking upon sand and rocks, the mewing of gulls... enjoying the wide-open space.






"We tend to think of landscapes as affecting us most strongly when we are in them or on them, when they offer us the primary sensations of touch and sight. But there are also the landscapes we bear with us in absentia, those places that live on in memory long after they have withdrawn in actuality, and such places -- retreated to most often when we are most remote from them -- are among the most important landscapes we possess."


Robert Macfarlane





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