Westward Ho! slow-down-look-out

mild, grey with cloud and yet warm
sudden quiet
rhythm of the ocean.

warmth on the back of my neck
no cars, just a few peaceful holiday makers.

I walk along the edge of land and ocean; the surfaced track along the coast – wild hedgerows on either side, so typical of Devon.

Brambles, blackberries, nettles, Old Mans Beard, columbine… ( As I look out to Lundy Island, I am immersed in the slow rhythm of the ocean).

I pause to take off my jacket… thinking about moving off the surfaced coastline path, thinking about taking the steep narrow track leading up the hill. I glance around the scene. Scattered holiday-makers are strolling by, or sitting on thoughtfully provided benches in a large field down below.They are noticeably unwinding, enjoying the peace, taking in the slow ocean rhythm.  From time to time people strolling past bid me ‘good morning’.

I chat with a young man and his grandmother who have come down the steep track leading up the hill. They are from South London. He is helping her get along, though she knows she is really helping him.

Before leaving the coast path, I turn to gaze out to sea, at misty Lundy to my left and the low, undulating hills of Bideford Bay to my right… the green expanse of the field down below,  and the rocky foreshore in front. The area of rock has increased in size since I last looked. The tide is slowly going out… Bright Montbretia is growing wild at my feet, along the path edges.

Lundy is still veiled in mist, even though the sun is beginning to shine through thin layers of cloud.


I turn my attention once again to the gentle rhythm of the ocean.  A solitary canoe glides across the  water, tiny in the distance.

I begin to climb up the hill, up the narrow brambly-hedged track towards the Look-out shelter high on the cliff edge, just as the sun begins to emerge fully.


A brief political bit
Tourism is by far the main sector of North Devon’s economy.  Hardly surprising, considering the beauty and tranquillity of its landscape – its woodland, hills, fields, beaches and wide ocean views.

Not only this, but the area is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty); the sea around Lundy is a proposed Marine Conservation Zone , and it is also within a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. So the area is important for its biological ecology too, and a huge source of satisfaction and pleasure for those interested in activities like bird-spotting and admiring the diversity of local flora and fauna.

People do not come here  for raucous entertainment and boozy nights out. They come for  peace, to recharge their batteries, to slow down after the stresses of a year’s workaday urban life.

It is a place where people without vast quantities of money can come with their small children and their aged relations and relax in the beauty of nature. Food for the soul, so to speak.

Like so many of the world’s special places, it is constantly being threatened by powerful vested interests. The latest outrage is a proposal to build possibly the world’s largest ‘offshore’ wind installation, known as ‘the Atlantic Array’  (taking 11 years to build) between North Devon and South Wales. The real cost to the marine environment, wildlife, habitat, the region’s economy and the wellbeing of its people is incalculable.

I am of the opinion that our energy needs are so important that we need to have a full, free and proper public debate around this issue, and full and proper information about the various alternatives –  followed by decisions made by referendum. And not have this sort of  thing arbitrarily foisted upon the region from Somewhere on High.

If you are interested to find out more, you can find the North Devon newspapers online, or try Slay the Array site.

About throughstones

I am primarily a visual artist, living on the North Devon coast, a beautiful semi-rural area in South West England. I am interested in full engagement with 'place' and the eternal movement of life - particularly as it relates to what we call 'the natural environment'.
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