A mild and beautiful autumn day, and a visit with the Coastwise group, to Barracane Beach, by Woolacombe. The surf shone white, rolling in a huge lazy sweep around the bay, attracting many surfers – and on the beach, slate rocks with deep vertical splits and veins of shining white quartz rose up from the sand in tall pinnacles and ridges.
Rocks and pools and gullies were teeming with sea life that I had been barely aware of. We peered more and more closely into pools and crevices, as our guide explained a little of the ecosystem and the relentless struggle for survival – and a whole new underwater world opened before our eyes. The variety of creatures we found, as we dipped our nets and tipped our finds into buckets was staggering: limpets, mussels, barnacles, winkles, prawns, a sand eel, a little green worm, several different types of anemone, an umbrella jellyfish, sea hares, starfish including a huge spiny starfish about 1ft. across), crabs of various types and sizes, and a charming little fish called a ballan wrasse.
Coming away, the rocks in the sand looked like Zen gardens, and a labrador trotted across my line of vision carrying a red rubber ball in its mouth.