On Bolberry Down

15/02/2017 - 15:34
I drove towards the crinkly coastline between Hope and Salcombe, intent on wandering the wonderful coast at Bolberry Down, on a photography assignment for the National Trust. A brooding sky of deepening greys strectched above me for many miles as I followed the tarmac snake through the hills and vales of the South Hams of Devon. This brooding sky periodically pierced with occasional chinks of transient light and fleeting patches of blue sky - in the region of the distant, high coastal downs. Such are the days that one heads out with optimism, that there will be at least some moments of stormlight.
Stepping out of the car at Bolberry Down, meant wandering into blustery brumal blasts. The east of England had already had a dusting of snow that morning and the thickening sky driven on polar continental winds was a bitter 4°C, the keen breeze making the air seem much colder.
Sheep grazing the slopes of Ralph's Hole Cliffs, Bolberry Down
Sheep wandered the immediate cliff slopes, I only wish I had with me a very-long focal length lens, several of the distant sheep were somehow poised in the most improbable sections of  high vertical cliff escarpments - slowly winding their way along, up and occasionally further down!
My core body warmth was fine, thanks to windproof trousers, a ushanka hat and a goose-down jacket - the resident Highland cattle looking distinctly cosier than I, as they enjoyed munching the heathland grasses. Their long red-dun locks swooshing periodically in the salty gusts of wind.
Highland Cow - West Cliff, Bolberry Down
Kneeling down to photograph the rust toned cattle on occassions, in an aim to get engaging compositions, were undertaken by moving slowly and keeping eye contact. At such close proximity, the span and sharpness of their horns becomes truly apparent. Whilst they seem a generally placid breed, they are stocky and powerful looking beasts! After spending time photographing the characterful herd of cattle, I wandered off east, along the sinuous path towards Cathole Point and it's seaward crags, stopping on occassions to explore the rocky escarpments..
West Cliff - with Cathole, Soar Mill Cove, West Soar,
the Ham Stone and Bolt Head beyond
The lofty and far reaching vistas from this path are full of grandeur, the mewing of gulls, the bleating of sheep just audible above the resonant hum of long peeling breakers - ending their journeys along the coastal cliffs far, far below. Crepuscular beams piercing the grumpy clouds, dappling the Channel with burnished silver-white pools. Squally rain showers sailed westward a mile or two out to sea, with fleeting slivers of sword-light.
Beyond the Ham Stone
It is a walk that if time & clement weather allows, offers myriad places to stop for a break and the opportunity to study the grand and intimate details of this coastal landscape. Ancient rocks, steep coombes, birds, butterflies, wild flowers, heather clad downs abound in the Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a feast for the senses to spend time walking and stopping to rest once in a while, through this grand coastal landscape.
Find out more about the National Trust's walks along this part of the South Devon Coast here




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