After the storm of 2014

DSCF0496   This is what is left of the sea defences at Hallsands after the storm on the night of 4 February 2014. Most of the boulders have slipped down the beach and the road (a public highway) behind them has collapsed. This is, or rather was, the route of the south west coastal path. There is no local diversion, so sorry Ramblers – there’s no way through Hallsands for you.

DSCF0511  This believe it or not is a view back up the beach. People sunbathe here in the summer, but generally there is about four feet of shingle beneath them. What you see here is the clay beneath the shingle (two different colours) and rocks that have been washed from the sea defences. Left at the back is one of the Fordworth cottages built to rehouse villagers displaced from old Hallsands.

DSCF0505 Here you can see the peat the underlies parts of the shingle beach shining in the sun. The peat is exposed by storms every few winters, but not like this. Generally we look to a few easterlies to bring the shingle back for the summer, but a big easterly on a high spring tide will just go straight over the boulders and then only a big civil engineering  project will save us.

All the houses that you see at the back of the picture depended on the collapsed public highway. The five nearest will be the first to go now that the sea defences are no more. South Hams District Council gave them planning permission about five years ago. Now why was that when they and the other authorities had no intention of maintaining either the sea defences or the public highway leading to them? Did greed for rate revenue overcome basic human decencies. Answers on the head of a pin to

DSCF0504  This is a view up the beach to what was the lower winch block. Five commercial boats (and several amateur fishing boats) depend on this winch for hauling out in the summer. What price the local economy?

WP_20140208_013  The most poignant of all these images is this one of Noah’s boat. Noah was a much-loved character in the village practically from the day he was born. In 2009 he was killed in a tragic road accident at the age of nine and in keeping with local traditions a boat was filled with soil and planted with flowers in his memory. It stood on the grass bank behind the wall on the right, but the storm washed it and much of the bank away. Only some of the more deeply planted bulbs have survived.

DSCF0517  And finally, for now at least, here is a view back up the beach from Mildmay cottages. You see it’s only a short stretch of sea defences we are asking for.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *