Foreland Point is the first obvious Devon landmark down the Bristol Channel and it also marks the start of proper cliffs. You’d like to think they attract breeding seabirds but those only start on the stretch beyond Lynmouth to Ilfracombe where Exmoor plummets into the sea. These are the highest cliffs in England and the odd fulmar did begin to appear. A few gannets and shearwaters also glided over choppy waves.
The Waverley‘s approach to Ilfracombe allowed views of really rather an odd town, draped over hills and outcrops. Odder still was the town crier greeting the boat as it docked. It all looked worth investigation but we had an island to visit, another 20 miles on across the top of Bideford (or Barnstaple) Bay. Here a couple of guillemots joined the trip list but the numbers of any species still weren’t high.
As Lundy, wearing a garland of mist, finally hove into view, I added a recognisable shag. Several more also loafed round the island before we docked, a good hour late. The captain gave us an extra thirty minutes on shore but it was still only enough to climb to the Marisco Tavern for a pint. Not that the mist allowed much scope for sightseeing anyway.
Once ashore a peregrine falcon was the first landbird tick. It perched, seeming to survey the disembarking passengers, then powered off, having decided that none was a tasty morsel.
I soaked up not one, but two, pints of Old Light at the Tavern. I was either that thirsty or it was that good (it is actually rebadged St Austell Tribute, so good enough). Other birds were restricted to robins, sparrows, crows, swallows and one blackbird. Then it was time to trudge back down and repaddle the eighty miles back to North Somerset.
The wind had subsided by then so we didn’t even get a compensatory push to make up some time. The calmer conditions did allow an extended view of the spectacular Exmoor cliffs. I soaked these up too. Then darkness fell for the final three hours of the return to Clevedon Pier where one of the year’s higher tides was racing out past its pilings.
That was a final worthwhile sight for a day that had provided a good share of experiences despite the weather. Or maybe because of the weather. That’s the beauty of Britain.