Through the Keyhole

20/02/2014 - 16:24



An unusual view exists at the far end of South Milton Sands, in the South Devon A.O.N.B. There is a fascinating geological oddity of a ‘keyhole’ in a fin of slate rock - giving a clear view through it to the archway of Thurlestone Rock.



It was a mission to scramble over the incredibly slippy and sharp reef - to a cove below the Great Ledge and not slip into the numerous tidal pools. This was followed by a steep climb up a slab to get to the vantage point.









With one hand in the rock, balanced on narrow footholds, the challenge was then to lean back and make the photograph!








Well worth the effort though all told to see such an unusual view.






“Every exit is an entrance somewhere else”


Tom Stoppard




 A period of over 100 million years saw mountain building over South West England – during the Devonian and Carboniferous periods (about 400 to 300 million years ago) into the early Permian period. This was due to plate tectonics .The mud and sand sediments became deeply buried and turned into rocks, which in turn were folded, contorted and thrust up into mountains by the dynamic collision of the continental plates.



This long period of earth movements and mountain building is known as the ‘Variscan Orogeny’. It created a range of mountains across what is now South West England, running between Eastern Europe & North America. There is much evidence of contorted rocks along this stretch of coastline and a great variety of rock types.



Thurlestone Rock was originally known as the 'thirled stone', from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'hole'.



The Thurlestone Rock arch is made of Permian Red Sandstone, which formed around 250-300 million years ago.






The far end of South Milton Sands has some delightful coves






and to the west, it offers fine views of the Thurlestone Rock - with Burgh Island, Bantham and Bigbury beyond it.





Be aware of the tide & waves and please take care on the very slippy reef if you go and visit :)



*Many thanks to Mark Dugmore for the additional photos of me climbing up to the keyhole in the rock





26/03/2021 - 17:17
How do you please get to see that hole? Absolutely amazing photography congratulations Ben

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