In January 2007, the little village of Branscombe witnessed extraordinary scenes after a container carrier called the MSC Napoli, which had been damaged in a nasty storm named Kyrill, was beached there in order to enable her cargo to be salvaged. She was carrying 2,394 containers full of all sorts of goodies, and when news got out about this irresistible haul, people descended on the village from far and wide, swarming onto the beach to help themselves to anything they could lay their hands on, making off with everything from designer shoes to brand new motorbikes. This unedifying scene was played out on the British news, along with interviews with the beleaguered residents who were on the receiving end of this invasion. The practice known as “wrecking”, the term used to describe relieving shipwrecks of their goods, was once a regular occurrence in the south-west of England; it is not often that this type of activity is observed in the 21st century.
Now that Branscombe has reverted to its former tranquil self, it makes a lovely starting point for a walk out to the coastal path, and there are a couple of pubs for that post-walk drink. Its ancient church is also well worth a visit, boasting several interesting features including a three-decked 18th century pulpit, fragments of a medieval wall painting and a Norman tower. A clutch of National Trust owned buildings can be visited, including an old bakery which was the last traditional working bakery in Devon. Beachgoers can park up at Branscombe Mouth beach, which lies at the end of a long valley.
Map of the area.
photo © 2007 Sheila Thomson | more info (via: Wylio)