Not content with merely generating its own...
...electricity (see tip on Glen Lyn Gorge) the footpath between Lynton and Lynmouth is lit at night entirely by solar powered "Street Lights". All of these have been sponsored by local businesses and have the great advantage that they are self-contained units and so needed no digging things up to wire them in - the solar panel charges up the battery in the base during the day and the light comes on at night! Simple isn't it?
PS The path is pretty steep and walking up is only reccommended for those with a decent cardio-vascular system!!!
PPS Even with the lights, walking down on a late autumn evening can be pretty treacherous as the "feuilles morts" can be a bit slippery!!!
The Duck Race
In addition to the annual raft race there is also the Lyn Duck Race, usually the Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend, in aid of the local firefighters benevolent fund and other local charities. This event involves disgorging about 2,000 numbered yellow plastic ducks off the upriver bridge and allowing the river to carry them down to the footbridge just before the harbour. Spectators "purchase" a duck for a pound and the first duck to reach the footbridge earns its "owner" the 100 pound first prize.
The ducks take about 20 minutes to sort themselves out in the upper section of the river with the majority getting stuck in the many pools on the way down but a few find the natural current channels on the route to the finish.
They are still not necessarily freed from the river's hazards however, which this year included a little boy of about 4 years old, who, seeing the leading duck floating close to the shore, rushed out and plucked it out of the water with cries of "Look Mummy, I've caught a duck!" Mummy, needless to say, was somewhat aghast as she became focus of the thousands of spectators collective laughter!!
A North Devon Timewarp
"Lynton and Lynmouth - Siamese Twins"
Lynton and Lynmouth are a pair of villages on the North Devon coast, Lynton at the top of the hill, Lynmouth at the bottom, connected not just by road but also by the unique water-powered Victorian cliff railway.
Lynmouth itself is a picturesque little fishing village, though tourism is, and has been since Victorian times, its main industry. The harbour is still home to a dozen or so inshore fishing boats whose catches are mainly sold locally. Despite its reliance on tourism the village does manage to succeed without becoming overtly commercial in a tacky manner, there is still a sense of a working community to the village and it tends to attract a more discerning class of visitor rather than the "kiss me quick amusement arcade" types to be found in the larger North Devon towns.
Lynton and Lynmouth really came into prominence in the 1800's and famous visitors of the period included the English poets Shelley, Wordsworth and Coleridge who were attracted by the relative isolation and natural beauty of the area. Even today, despite the ubiquitous infernal combusting engine machines, the area maintains a degree of isolation and the villages make an ideal base for exploring the wilds of Exmoor and the grandeur of the scenery following the coastal path both to East and West.
"Red Rocks and Sunsets"
The cliffs on the Eastern side of Lynmouth bay spend most of their life being a normal sort of grey rock colour but in certain lights and especially during sunsets in late June and early July the rocks positively glow with a warm red pigment, whilst the green above takes on an almost yellowed hue in contrast. Add to this the aquamarine blue of the bay and you can see why Lynton and Lynmouth are so beloved of photographers and painters.
Lynmouth Bay also provides for some spectacular sunsets with the hills on the left acting as a half-frame and the harbour with its tower providing a shadowed foreground - in fact this could almost be a nightly pursuit: leaving the pub with the camera just long enough to see what tonight's sunset will bring, then straight back to the pub of course! There will eventually be a set of travelogs here with more pics, even more spectacular than this and as a taster I'm going to start one now - The Bird at Sunset 9th July 2006 :)
"Lynmouth and the Flood"
The rivers East & West Lyn and Hoaroak flow into the Bristol Channel here at Lynmouth: “where Exmoor meets the sea” as the local blurb goes. Exmoor itself, given its elevation, much like its more southerly sibling Dartmoor, attracts a higher than average level of rainfall over the course of the year than the rest of the North Devon region.
On the 15th August 1952, following several days of exceptional rainfall, the night was to bring about one of North Devon's most serious natural disasters. On the day itself the total rainfall was estimated to be about 10 inches in a 24 hour period and eventually all this water had to go somewhere and Lynmouth it was to be. Dragging not just the usual uprooted trees and other debris with it, the torrent was sufficiently powerful to carry boulders of up to 40 tons down the river gorges, carving out widened watercourses as it went.
On arrival at the village this mass swept everything it encountered with it, including 93 buildings, several in their entirety, 132 various vehicles, all of the boats in the harbour and much of the harbour wall itself. In the village itself a total of 16 people lost their lives along with another 18 from the region.
Rebuilding the village was funded by a relief fund and took over 4 years. Today the Flood Memorial Hall has a permanent exhibition in commemoration of the tragedy and there is a plain wooden cross on the riverside at the point that the floodwaters broke through.
Lynmouth Raft Race 2006 Part1 - Lead Up
The annual Lynmouth Raft Race is one of the villages' main summer events and is a major fundraiser for local charities run by the local Lyn Lions. The event is well supported by local businesses many of whom are also active participants in the race itself.
The race manages to be both competitive and fun with prizes awarded not just for the winners but also for best dressed, the constructors prize, junior prize plus whatever other prizes the judges might decide on the day.
In addition to the race, the days festivities include stalls and sideshows, live music, a display by the Lyn Line Dancers, the procession of the rafts through the village and ends with more live music, the awards ceremony and finally the raffle prize draw. This is all interspersed with visits to the local pubs by both spectators and contestants!
The actual timing and date of the race depends on local tides and this years race started at 5.45 pm on Sunday 23rd July. From early morning the organisers start putting the stalls together and by lunchtime the village is beginning to fill with both day trippers and locals out for the day and as the afternoon progresses there is a tangible air of expectancy.
About an hour before the race the rafts start to arrive at the car park at the top end of the village in preparation for the procession and it is here that we see the first signs of rivalry between the crews, along with last-minute repairs and adjustments.
This year there were a total of 14 boats entered by the time the programme went to press with a couple of late entries expected and with themes ranging from "The Noel Cowards" with thier bright red gunboat to "The Police" with thier black and white catamarran. All the boats are hand-made to varying degrees of skillfulness and ingenuity and seaworthiness is not a necessary criterion!
The race circuit starts from below the footbridge in the village out round the harbour markers in the bay and back and whilst the bay is quite well sheltered it is still open water and so the local volounteer lifeboat crews are on stand-by as well as several other boats to assist in case of problems.
As the contestants start to assemble in the car park for the procession the spectators begin to settle into thier favoured spots for viewing, the Lyn Line Dancers entertain the still milling crowds around the Bath Hotel and the flour bomb sellers start to do a brisk trade. This is another part of the day's tradition - the spectators pelt the crews (and each other) with flour bombs but be aware the crews are allowed to pelt back!
About half-an-hour before the race the rafts parade throught he villages main street led by the Energie Samba Drumming Band through the throngs of eager spectators and this is when the flower bombers start.
The procession runs from the car park, across the river and down through the village to the harbour slipway in front of The Rising Sun. Some are lucky and have managed to beg, steal or borrow trailers for the journey, others using up thier energy early by doing it the hard way.
The rafts are launched from the slipway and this is for most thier first test of seaworthiness and stability. For some this is easily passed, for others.........
Believer it or not these guys managed to right thier craft and continue only to have it capsize again out in the bay.
Launch complete, the craft paddle round the harbour and up river until assembling behind the pedestrian bridge to await starters orders under a constant flour bombardment. I'm not entirely sure if the bridge was designed for this number of people but there is a strict injunction against leaning on the handrail.
Continued on part #2 next>.