Looking out over the bay there is a odd, out-of-place, modern structure protruding relatively inconspicuously from the waters. Doing a little research reveals that this is actually quite a fascinating experiment into renewable energy resources: generating electricity from the power within the local tidal flow.
This project, entitled "Seaflow", has been jointly funded by the EC and the British Department of Trade and Industry and is basically an upside-down wind generator. A submerged 11 metre, twin bladed, rotor produces electricity from the flow of water as the tides come and go and is a prototype for developing a larger scale "tide farm".
Lynmouth was specifically chosen as the location of the experiment as the Bristol Channel at this point has a relative strong tidal flow but without the water being too deep, allowing the turbine to be installed without the need for expensive diving operations. The submerged blade and gearing can be raised out of the water up the supporting shaft for servicing and repairs.
What makes this particularly interesting is that "Seaflow" uses existing oil rig technology and so the turbine housing merely requires secure anchorage, rather than pile-driving, and not only that but the turbines themselves can be attached to existing structures such as bridges, piers and etc. Tidal flow, unlike wind, is perfectly predicable and so a series of strategically-located turbines could potentially provide sufficient electricity 24/7 to power certainly most of the UK coastal towns and cities.
Link below is the EC report, which makes quite interesting reading:
UPDATE April 2011. The experiment is now over and the turbine has been taken away. It does however seem to have been a successful experiment in that a lot has been learnt about the feasability of using tidal power to generate electricity and so I'll leave this tip here as a reminder of Lynmouth's contribution to sustainable energy production.
A pleasant, but well-travelled, path is the footpath along the river to Watersmeet where the rivers Lyn and Hoaroak meet. Here you'll find a pleasant, but temperance, National Trust tearoom.
But if you want a beer then you have to go a bit further. Take the right-hand footpath marked "Rockford" and you'll get another very pleasant walk firstly along the river, then through some woods, and then back to the river where you'll find the absolutely cracking Rockford Inn.
As always the walk is the highlight and the destination merely a bonus - HA!
I'll let the pics and the excellent website tell the story ;-HIC!
Whilst I may have a bit of a reputation for being a drunk those that know me know that I never have a drink until I've done something either constructive, creative or energetic - then, and only then, do i reward myself with a beer (and sometimes even two).
Something I'd been meaning to do for ages whilst working up here in Lynmouth was walk the section of the South West Coastal Path westwards to Hunters Inn, which as the name might suggest is a place named after its pub. With seven miles of cliff-hugging footpath to negotiate, along with several thousand feet of rises and falls the walk certainly fulfills the energetic part of my criteria and taking the camera along would give me the creative bit as a bonus.
One morning in July, after a particularly hectic mid-season week at work, I awoke on my day off to brilliant sunshine, clear skies and a head full of cobwebs which needed cleared - perfect conditions for the walk.
Even though it's only seven miles from Lynmouth to Hunters Inn it's what is described in the SWCP website as "challenging" and so I reckoned I'd need at least three hours just for the walking bit. Adding another hour for taking pics and cigarette breaks coincidentally had my start time at about the same time as the bus to Barnstaple was due to leave. OK it was a bit of a cheat, allowing me an easy start by taking me up the 700 feet or so to Lynton and the start of the footpath to Hollerday Hill, but in the greater scheme of things...
It wasn't that much of a cheat though. Hollerday Hill required another couple of hundred feet of ascent and then the vertigo-inducing cliff-hugging footpath round it.
It was turning out to be a perfect walking day with just enough sea breeze to keep everything cool and having the sun behind me meant I could see where I was going (as could the camera). From Hollerday Hill the view towards the Valley of Rocks, the Ice-age gouge left behind when a glacier finally melted, was best I've caught it. Then it was downhill again and back to sea level where I almost tripped over a suicidal goat before being forced inland by the privately owned grounds of Lee Abbey.
Lee Abbey BTW is some sort of christian community which owns the 280 acre site and has effectively blocked off the coastal section of the path here claiming that they are using the place as a retreat. Something which doesn't amuse me.
But hey it's too nice a day to get involved in a rant about the Lee Abbey bunch of tossers.
Having cleared Lee Abbey the path rises again to encircle Woody Bay - I think it is possible to make the descent down to the beach there but it involves another 600 feet climb to get back up and the official path skirts this. From here you can see why Woody Bay is so-named, especially in mid-summer with the trees in full verdant leaf when views of the bay itself are mere glimpses.
Then the path returns to the sea, spectacularly, as it hugs the cliffs at a height of about 600 feet for the next mile or so as it rounds the promontory heading for Heddon's Mouth. Fortunately the path is quite wide and level here otherwise I would have had to crawl it on hands and knees!
Then Heddon's Mouth itself, announced by the view of the river's cleave, and then the dizzying perpendicular drop down to the beach and its old lime kiln.
Though not in sight the essence of the pub is now palpable - every waypost now points to Hunters Inn and checking my watch I find that my timing is perfect: 12 o'clock and maybe 10 minutes more walking. It's maybe a 400 foot descent to the river and about half a mile along its banks to the pub itself and I find myself almost skipping - I know how good that beer is going to taste!!