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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Morwenstow Cliffs

Between the wet and windy squalls, we finally made it to Stanbury cliffs to see what, if anything, the severe weather had left in its wake.

The path to the cliffs was, as expected, extremely wet and muddy in places requiring a detour to prevent mud coming over the tops of our boots, but we were undeterred.

Wave after wave of them ...
Our first sight at the end of the footpath above the beach was a Kestrel hovering in the teeth of the wind. It was high tide and huge waves were crashing into the foot of the cliffs, line after line of them. We determined to go towards Higher Sharpnose passing the worst of the eroding cliffs on the way.

There were lots of Mole hills on the South West Coastal Path and Badger evidence – well worn tracks under the Blackthorn and obvious latrines beyond the little stream on the way to Sharpnose.

The new detour
There was the appearance of rock slides once we were able to look back at the cliffs, but the most obvious was the new track into the gorse (where there is usually Dodder in season) to keep people away from the sheer eroded cliff. This has been slipping for a long time and was very attractive to people and dogs to inch to the edge and look over. As we inspected from a safe distance we could see the small stream that follows the path before falling over the cliff actually running uphill. On the detour we thought a squall was coming in as the spots of rain hit us – it was not, it was the small waterfall coming back over the path and wetting us!

The uphill waterfall
We headed nearer to Sharpnose and spotted a Peregrine high over the cliffs. The views of the waves
breaking against the cliffs were spectacular.

On the return we identified sprinklings of shale over the path and field where the storms has stripped loose pieces from the cliff and flung them back inland. I would not have liked to have been there in the teeth of it.

Back at the footpath half a dozen Meadow Pipits were piping and feeding in the field as a Magpie cruised over. The only other birds about was a group of very noisy Herring Gulls obviously in their element.

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