Fortress no more…
A few weeks ago I wrote about Fortress Beesands, and how the sea defences dominate the landscape in the ‘public’ half of the beach. Yesterday N and I went for our usual stroll/swim/sojourn at Beesands, and even as we drove into the car park (which is actually just a stretch of tarmac and gravel next to the wall of rocks that is the sea defence, then the beach). we could see that something dramatic had happened since our last visit, which was probably no more than a week earlier. Earlier in the week, we had read that the cost road along Slapton sands had been closed due to unusually high tides and unusually high winds blowing the tide in even further. The weather had been dramatic, true, but although we are just two miles away we hadn’t been aware of just how dramatic things had been along the shore. Seeing the road closed for at least twenty-four hours should have been a clue to what we discovered at Beesands.
Almost all of the sea defenses have been washed onto the beach, the road under them fatally undermined by the surging tide to the extent that it could no longer hold the weight of the massive boulders. A good illustration of the change to the beach is to look at the rather prosaic outflow pipe (fresh water, not sewage!) that lets the waters from the Ley into the sea. Normally it stands proud of the beach, admittedly looking worn and battered.
But yesterday, it looked like this, the pipe essentially completely buries except where the water flow has carved out a deep trench. There is no sand at all left on the beach – everything is shingle. These are phenomena we are used to seeing, but the change was dramatic and completely unexpected.
Just a couple of pictures here show the equally dramatic nature of the fall of the defensive boulders. The force of the water must have been quite astounding to see, and a reminder of just how Canute-like our efforts to control the onslaught of the sea and the constant erosion of the coast of our small island really is. The boulders were originally sitting on top of the road, supported by well-packed smaller shingle encased in flexibly metal cages. That’s all gone, and there are even patches where the boulders themselves have been washed away.
I’ve posted lots more pictures here.