I could hardly see through the rain and mist as I was driving along, or perhaps it was a heavy layer of cloud that had descended. It was one of those grey sunless days when cold and dampness seep into the skin into the body, chilling the bones. Not very conducive to sitting around sketching the landscape, I thought – or lying in the grass admiring the sky – however, there are three good pubs in the village of Mortehoe where we were meeting, so I was not too worried!
We came steeply down to a small secluded bay – all around were grey slatey cliffs, dramatic with fractured vertical fissures. Formed around 30 million years ago apparently, at a time when the tectonic plates of the Earth were shifting, and forcing the rock under intense pressure to fold and concertina tight so that the normally horizontal layers were tipped up and became vertical.
Scattered jagged rocks were strewn under the cliffs, and beyond the rocks, an expanse of pristine sand and the distant sea.
The sun came through as each in our own reverie enjoyed the fresh air, the peace and tranquility and the slow rhythm of the sea.
Rockham Bay is owned by the National Trust. Looking on their website afterwards, I read that this area :
“… has a rich history of smuggling and wrecking; the wreckers of Mortehoe were greatly feared by sailors [… ]. The locally found Morte Slates produce distinctive rock with razor edges. The currents here are treacherous and have caused a great many ships to be wrecked on the jagged rocks”.