A day at Clovelly, Devon

Clovelly is a village in the Torridge district of DevonEngland. It is a major tourist attraction, famous for its history and beauty, its extremely steep car-free cobbled main street, donkeys and its location looking out over the Bristol Channel. Thick woods shelter it and render the climate so mild that even tender plants flourish. As of the 2001 Census, the ward of Clovelly Bay, including Clovelly, had a total population of 1,616.[1]

The village itself is not accessible by motor vehicle and space at the harbour is limited to hotel residents and locals with permits. Visitors park at the visitor centre car park above the village, at the end of the B3237 road; service buses make calls at the car park also. The visitor centre consists of a cafe, gift, book and fudge shops. There are a number of tourist-oriented shop units at the car park. Visitors enter the village through the visitor centre. A taxi service operates in summer using Land Rover vehicles, between the car park and the harbour. There is a public road down to the harbour (followed by the Land Rover taxi), although parking at the bottom is all private, and there is a sign warning visitors against going down that road. Clovelly Visitor Centre car park is served by Stagecoach Bus service 319 between BarnstapleBideford and Hartland.Access

The estate is run by the Clovelly Estate Company, under the leadership of the Hon. John Rous, a descendant of the Hamlyn family who have owned the village, estate and manor house Clovelly Court since 1738. He is the son of the Hon. Mary Rous and Keith Rous, the 5th Earl of Stradbroke.

Visitors are told that revenues raised from the entrance fee are used to fund the constant maintenance of the village cottages. Caring for the village is said to be expensive since the buildings are all repaired using traditional materials and craftmanship. Due to the severely restricted vehicle access, builders often quote up to double the standard price for repairs.

Critics of the post-1988 management claim that the Clovelly Estate Company has no legal basis for imposing a charge on visitors simply wishing to walk down the street and not wishing to visit or make use of other facilities. The street itself is owned and maintained by Devon County Council. There is also a public road leading down to the harbour and ending before the cark park. Only the area beyond this road, including the harbour car park, is private property.

Clovelly used to be a fishing village and in 1901 had a population of 621. It is a cluster of wattle and daub cottages on the sides of a rocky cleft; its steep main street descends 400 feet (120 m) to the pier, too steeply to allow wheeled traffic. Sledges are used for the movement of goods. The quaint street is lined with houses, a small number of shops, a cafe and a public house. All Saints’ Church, restored in 1866, is late Norman, containing several monuments to the Cary familyLords of the Manor for 600 years.

Unusually, the village is still privately owned and has been associated with only three families since the middle of the 13th century, nearly 800 years. The scenery is famous for its richness of colour, especially in the grounds of Clovelly Court and along The Hobby, a road cut through the woods and overlooking the sea. The South West Coast PathNational Trail runs past the village and the section from Clovelly to Hartland Quay is particularly spectacular.

Deliveries by sledge

The impossibility of getting vehicular access to the main street has led to deliveries being made by sledge. This is not done as a tourist attraction but as a matter of practicality. Goods being delivered are pulled down the hill from an upper car park. Refuse is pulled down the hill to a waiting vehicle at the harbour.

Text by Wikipedia


Living next to the Severn Bridge (Severn Crossing)

Severn crossing is a term used to refer to the two motorway crossings over the River Severn estuary between England and Wales. The two crossings are:

The first motorway suspension bridge was inaugurated on 8 September 1966, and the newer cable-stayed bridge, a few miles to the south, was inaugurated on 5 June 1996. The Second Severn Crossing marks the upper limit of the Severn Estuary.

The two Severn crossings are regarded as the main crossing points from England into South Wales. Prior to 1966 road traffic between the southern counties of Wales and the southern counties of England either had to travel via Gloucester or take the Aust Ferry, which ran roughly along the line of the Severn Bridge, from Old Passage near Aust to Beachley. The ferry ramps at Old Passage and Beachley are still visible.

Tolls are collected on both crossings from vehicles travelling in a westward direction only. As of January 2012, the toll for small vehicles is £6.00.

Text from Wikipedia

Having lived in the shadows of the M48 Severn Bridge for so many years, it becomes taken for granted just what a stunning piece of engineering genius it really is.

Severn Estuary Lave Net Fishery

Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery this centuries-old fishing method continues along the banks of the River Severn.

The waters of the Severn Estuary are among the most dangerous in Wales but this has not deterred generations of fishermen from fishing its rich waters for salmon.

Traditional Welsh methods of catching them survived particularly strongly in the area. Within living memory a range of methods were used, including putcher ranks, stopping boats, putts, drift nets and lave netting. Sadly the latter is the only method to have survived into the 21st-century.

The number of lave netsmen has dwindled over the years and now they can only be seen in the area of the Second Severn Crossing close to the villages of Sudbrook and Portskewett (Monmouthshire).

Lave Net Fishermen in the flow of the River Severn 24th August 2012

These men, members of the Blackrock Lave Net Fishermen Association, carry on a tradition that has a unique cultural and historical significance. The Association’s chairman, Bob Leonard, has been a lave netsman for more than 60 years and explains that it is imperative to only go out on the estuary “with a man that knows the river otherwise you are in a very dangerous situation”.

Fish are caught at low tides, known as spring tides, using a hand-held net. At one time fishermen were allowed to fish from February to August but this has since been restricted from June to August. At most they can fish for an hour and a half at a time depending on weather conditions. 

Notice the Lave Net Fishermen in the foreground of this picture against the vast structure of the M4 second severn crossing.

Fishing commences as it always has with the fishermen going down to the shore at Black Rock. Often fishermen stand in the spots where their fathers and grandfathers once stood.

The basic technique for lave fishing is simple, the hand-staff is held in one hand and the headboard with the other, whilst the fingers are entwined in the bottom of the mesh feeling for the fish. The net is positioned in front of the fisherman, to face the run of the water.

The fishermen consider wind direction and the height of the tide, with the optimum conditions being flat and calm. Rain does not necessarily worry them.

Once positioned, as Bob Leonard explains, “they scan the water for the telltale signs of fish”. They feel the strength of the water going by and expectations are raised of a sudden movement in the net. When the movement of a fish is felt the fisherman takes a backward step and raises the hand-staff out of the water.

Once caught, the fish is quickly dispatched using a priest (a mallet named in parody of the priest’s role in delivering the last rites) and taken onto the boat. The salmon is taken ashore and divided equally among the netsmen whether or not they had been fishing.

At one time there was no need to divide the catch as there was sufficient salmon for everyone. Times have changed and commercial fishing using the lave net has not been viable on the estuary since before the Second World War. Prior to 1939 the fish were sent to Billingsgate Market in London.

Turning in the opposite direction you are faced with the M48 original severn bridge linking England with Wales.

The lave netsmen are as skilled as their forefathers but due to the diminishing fish stocks they are more than happy to reach double figures for the season. They fish to keep their centuries old craft alive as Martin Morgan, Secretary of the Association explains “Lave fishing has a tradition going back a thousand years in Wales. My great-grandfather was a fisherman and passed his skills on through the family”.

A very misty and rainy evening alongside the M4 second severn crossing.


The wildfowl trust, sunset and the moon !

The Wildfowl and Wetlands trust is situated in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. These images are the result of a day out with the family. The way home saw a lovely sunset as we travelled back across the Severn bridge towards Chepstow. Later that evening we experimented with the camera taking some shots of the moon. Below are the results !!!

Sunset and fishing at Chesil Beach

After spending the day around Weymouth and Portland we were stunned to witness such an amazing sunset whilst returning home via Chesil Beach. Having being summoned to stop the car practically in the middle of the road there was just time to whip the camera out and capture these few amazing images. With little experience of shooting into the sun it was a case of just point, shoot and hope for the best. I think they came out rather well but I’d welcome your feedback !!


Weekly photo challenge: Wrong


It is wrong for four display pilots to pass within six feet of other travelling at over 400mph in front of 100,000 people – but doesn’t it look amazing !!

It is scarily wrong for these jets to pass at 500mph just six feet apart!!

Both the above images were captured at RIAT 2012, Fairford.

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Spirit of New York

Standing at a wet and soggy airbase in Gloucestershire stand the “Spirit of New York” stealth bomber. This is the first time the stealth has appeared in public in the UK for a number of years. I have fond memories of seeing it flying over Gloucestershire as a youngster during it’s 20 hour round trips from the United States.