The Coast of North West Cornwall

[ Photo Gallery # 87 }

To the east and the west of the Camel Estuary (see my blog of a week ago ) lie numerous inlets of the sea . Delightful coves and small villages  clinging to the Cornish cliffs.  Below is a gallery of my photographs of a number of these.


Rough sea on a misty morning at Polzeath


After the shower near Port Quin


Sign on entering the National Trust village of Port Quin


View of the inlet at Port Quin


The village of Port Isaac – used as the setting for the TV series ‘Doc Martin’.


Looking out to sea from the harbourside of Port Isaac


The beach at Trevone Bay near Padstow


The Lighthouse at Trevose Head, a headland on the Atlantic coast of north Cornwall


The Neal Rock with the Trevose Head lighthouse in the background


Close up view of The Neal Rock at Trevose Head


The cliffs and rocks at Bedruthan Steps


The granite rocks that are dotted across the beach are, according to legend, stepping stones for the Giant Bedruthan.


Western Cornwall #1

[  Photo Blog # 72  ]

Cornwall Map

I visited the western and the southernmost extremities of Cornwall on several summertime occasions between 2006 and 2008.  For the next three Thursdays I will offer some of the many photographs I took on these journeys.   The weather was not always bright and sunny!

01 Glendurgan

Glendurgan Gardens – owned by the National Trust

02 Glendurgan

The beach at Glendurgan on the Helford River

03 Glendurgan

Glendurgan – The Beach

04 KingHarryFerry

On the King Harry Ferry

05 KynanceCove

Kynance Cove on the Lizard Peninsular

06 KynanceCove

Kynance Cove

07 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove on the Penwith peninsula approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) south of Penzance

08 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove

09 LamornaCove

Lamorna Cove

10 LizardLighthouse

The Lizard – Lighthouse

11 LizardLighthouse

The Lizard – Lighthouse

12 Marazion-StMichaelsMt

St. Michael’s Mount – from Marazion

13 Marazion-StMichaelsMt

St. Michael’s Mount – from Marazion

The (Very) Outer Hebrides

From time to time I intend to reproduce, usually with minor changes, a few of my earliest WordPress posts from ‘Roland’s Ragbag’.  These will be ones which were, and are still, of particular import to me and which most of my current followers and readers will not have seen or read before.  For those of you who may have come across the earlier versions, I do hope you will consider them to be worthy of a second airing.


ON . . .  Flannan Isle, St.Kilda, and ‘Coffin Road’


The Outer Hebrides – showing Flannan Isle


In 2012, on a Round Britain cruise, I passed close to the Flannan Isles and to St.Kilda.  This was, for me, meant to be the highlight of the cruise, as I had in the past read much about both these remote places – the outermost islands of the Outer Hebrides – St.Kilda in fact being the furthest west point of the whole British Isles.  Unfortunately, the weather, as is often the case in those parts, was not good.  The sea was rough and the islands shrouded in mist.  I did manage a few photographs of St.Kilda, covered in mist and seabirds, but that was it. . .



St.Kilda in the mist … Photos by WHB – 2012

Flannan Isle is in fact a small archipelago of seven rocks, sometimes known as ‘The Seven Hunters’.  It has held great interest for me ever since, way back in my school days, just about my first introduction to narrative poetry was through the re-telling, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson, of the story of the three missing lighthouse men in his poem  ‘Flannan Isle’ (q.v.).  The story, for those not familiar with it, has echoes of the story of the missing crew of the ‘Mary Celeste’.

The Flannan Isle lighthouse was constructed in 1899 by David and Charles Stevenson.  Just a year later, when investigating why the light was not lit, 3 men landed on the isle but could find no trace of the 3 lighthouse keepers.  Although the table in the lighthouse was set with food, and although the rules of procedure insisted that one man should always remain in the lighthouse, no trace of any of them was ever found.   The full story is recounted in Gibson’s poem.  I have always remembered in particular the emotive last verse:

‘We seem’d to stand for an endless while,  Though still no word was said,
Three men alive on Flannan Isle,  Who thought on three men dead.’


The whole story was brought vividly back to me when I recently read Peter May‘s 2016 book, ‘Coffin Road’.   Gripping from the very beginning, It is a top-quality read – the best book I have read for a long long time.

‘A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.’

Flannan Isle itself, and the story of the three lighthouse men, are central to the story. There is a very strong plot and, as well as being a first-class thriller, the story has a cogent environmental message concerning the dangers of science being exploited for profit unrestrained by ethics.  As in others of his books, Peter May brings the Hebridean landscape to vivid life in all its rugged beauty, as well as realistically conveying the wildness of both the Hebridean sea and its weather.

I also learnt a lot about Bees from ‘The Coffin Road’ !!!   I thoroughly recommend it.



The Isle Of Wight

[ Photo Blog #54 ]


A photographic trip today to England’s delightful off-shore Isle of Wight, set, at its shortest distance, just 3 miles off the southern coast in the English Channel.    In size, the island is approximately 25 by 13 miles, and had a population in 2010 of 140,500.   The photographs below were taken by me some while ago – during the lovely summer of 2003.
The island is known particularly for its beaches and seafront promenades such as those at Ryde, Shanklin, Sandown and south-facing Ventnor.  Dinosaur remains and fossils have been found in several areas.  At the island’s westernmost point, The Needles are 3 huge, white chalk rocks, with a nearby 19th-century lighthouse positioned to warn approaching shipping.



Alum Bay … The cliff chair lift sets off for the beach


. . . approaching the cliff top


. . . descending to the beach


. . . where it ends on a jetty extending into the sea.


The Needles from the cliffs above Alum Bay


A closer view of The Needles and the Lighthouse


The Beach and Battery Inn at Seaview on the island’s East Coast


Outside the Battery Inn


Seafront chalets at Puckpool near Ryde 


The axeman earns his keep at the Waxworks at Brading – now, I believe, closed.


Queen Victoria’s holiday escape – Osborne House on the island’s east coast.


View from Osborne House eastwards to the Solent


On the south-facing beach at Ventnor

IoW15-Blackgang Chine

Blackgang Chine – an area subject to frequent coastal erosion.




The sun’s open arms 
Embrace the emerging day
Seeking lost sunbeams


Clutching at ripe fruit
Ever hoping to regain
Spent and mislaid strength


Hopeless task to set
Once spent never recovered
Now feeding our homes


Caught by our panels
Sustained by the human race
Lost to Mother Earth


The pen & wash sketches are by WHB  (aka Roland).  In order they are of …
Top:  South Bishop Lighthouse, Pembrokeshire, Wales (1993);
Centre:  An English Dawn . . . (1991)
Bottom:  Lamlash and Holy Isle, Isle of Arran, Firth of Clyde, Scotland … (2001)






Lynmouth, North Devon … Pen and Wash … WHB – 1997


From the high moor
cries a river

Long lingering Lyn
stretches her arms
from the  east
and from the west
before then
gathering the courage
to continue

Until at last
these fledgling rivers
less tentative now
more fluent
and sure
almost impetuous
towards each other
through their sovereign gorges

Plummeting now
to where their destined
waters meet
in conscious confluence

A stillness then returns
caution again prevailing
tentative once more,

still grieved
by distant memory

But now able
with measured movement
to veer past
 the lighthouse
by the river’s mouth
and to slip softly
 into the welcoming sea.


On 15 and 16 August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 9 inches of rain within 24 hours on the already saturated soil of Exmoor, North Devon.  The East and West Lyn rivers, which drop down from Exmoor, were swollen even before the storm.   Debris-laden flood waters cascaded down the northern escarpment of the moor, much of it converging upon the village of Lynmouth in particular.   In the upper West Lyn valley, a dam was formed by fallen trees, etc., but in due course this gave way, sending a huge wave of water and debris down the river.

Overnight, more than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless. The seawall and lighthouse survived the main flood, but were seriously undermined. The lighthouse collapsed into the river the next day.

(Notes adapted from Wikipedia)swirl



Dungeness, Derek Jarman, John Donne


Map of Kent and South East England.  Dungeness is marked in the bottom centre

Dungeness,  Derek Jarman, and John Donne

Dungeness is a unique area of south-east England of considerable interest and fascination.  It is not of conventional beauty, its scenery is at times bleak and desolate.  It consists of a triangle of land jutting out into the English Channel.  Its surface is largely made up of an expanse of shingle and pebble beach, dotted with scrub and heathland, and a variety of old boats, railway carriages and sheds, many of which have been turned into homes.  It is the site of Dungeness B nuclear power station, two lighthouses – old and new, of one end of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch miniature railway, possibly the world’s smallest public railway, and of the magnificent  Dungeness National Nature Reserve.

Derek Jarman:  My particular interest was captured by the close association of Dungeness with the film-maker Derek Jarman who chose to make his home here in a wooden-clad house on the shingle shore close to the nuclear power station.  Jarman (1942-1994), was a renowned English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, and author.  His passion for gardening led him to harness the very special landscape here to create a unique garden.   His unorthodox view of gardening was outlined in his words   ‘Paradise haunts gardens, and some gardens are paradises. Mine is one of them. Others are like bad children, spoilt by their parents, over-watered and covered with noxious chemicals.’

John Donne:  For me, one of the most striking images to be found on Dungeness was created by Jarman when he arranged for a love poem of the metaphysical poet, John Donne (1572-1631), to be ‘writ large’ on the wall of Jarman’s own house.The verses, inscribed on the black timber outer wall of Jarman’s cottage are from Donne’s poem ‘The Sun Rising’.   I give the first verse below . . .

  Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

A transcript of the whole of this powerful and moving love poem can be found on the Poetry Foundation website at: : ‘The Sun Rising’

The photo gallery below contains 12 photographs of Dungeness, which I took in 2008.  They are of Jarman’s cottage and garden, of Donne’s poem positioned on the side of Jarman’s house, together with a number of general views on the surrounding headland.  Clicking on any one of the images will bring up a slide-show of all 12 pictures in a larger format . . .