Sunday, July 27, 2008

Branscombe, East Devon

[Note: This travelogue has been re-formatted within the blog to facilitate better searches and commentaries. The original travelogue can still be found here]

The rocks at Branscombe form the backdrop to a fine stretch of coastline. The main feature, visible for miles in both directions along the coast is the Nothe, a pinnacle of Cretaceous Chalk. The cliffs here are quite unstable having only been in existence since the end of the Ice Age. So there is a large area of undercliff which has resulted from slumping and rock falls.

Branscombe 1
Nikon F5 + 20mm f 2.8 Nikkor, Fuji Astia


The top of the Nothe consists of bedded Cretaceous Chalk with abundant layers of chert (flint) nodules along the original bedding planes. The siliceous chert is much harder than the chalk limestone and individual nodules weather out, subsequently falling onto the beach below.

Branscombe 2
Nikon F5 + 300mm f 4 Nikkor, Fuji Astia


The raven gives scale to this view which shows that the Chalk is not always evenly bedded but shows some significant discordance near the top.

Branscombe 3
Nikon F5 + 300mm f 4 Nikkor, Fuji Astia


Although calm on the day these photos were taken the coast suffers some very strong gales in the winter and the many nodules of chert are eroded and rounded by continuous pounding of the waves on these storm ridges. The nodules end up being either pebbles or cobbles and are highly resistant. They are also very unconfortable to walk on with bare feet!

Branscombe 5
Nikon F5 + 20mm f 2.8 Nikkor, Fuji Astia


Not all the stones are from the Chalk for pebbles were also eroded further west from the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Bed, a Triassic unit that consists of large pebbles of much older rocks derived from a pre-existing landmass to the west of the area. These pebbles have been transported east by longshore currents and are now mixed with the chert pebbles sourced locally.

Branscombe 6
Nikon F5 + 300mm f 4 Nikkor, Fuji Astia


The undercliffs support a varied flora including wild orchids.

Branscombe 8
Nikon F5 + 60mm f 2.8 Micro Nikkor, Fuji Astia


Many of the plants are in flower in May and June.

Branscombe 9
Nikon F5 + 60mm f 2.8 Micro Nikkor, Fuji Astia


Including Wild Roses,

Branscombe 10
Nikon F5 + 60mm f 2.8 Micro Nikkor, Fuji Astia


Honeysuckle,

Branscombe 11
Nikon F5 + 60mm f 2.8 Micro Nikkor, Fuji Astia


and wild Iris,

Branscombe 12
Nikon F5 + 60mm f 2.8 Micro Nikkor, Fuji Astia