In 7000 BC the shoreline around Stolford and Hinkley Point extended three miles further out than it does now, but by 3800 BC the woods on the shoreline were becoming submerged due to a surge of water. The remnants of this ancient submerged forest are still visible during exceptionally low tides, as was the case earlier this year during the lowest tides for two centuries, when submerged forests around the Westcountry coast were exposed, including the one at Stolford and at Minehead to the west. Stolford is part of the civil parish of Stogursey, a village just inland with a castle dating from at least the 12th century, chosen as a base by William de Courcy, Steward to Henry I. The moated 17th century gatehouse, which is all that is left of the original castle, is now available as a holiday let through the LandmarkTrust.
Back in August 2011 in my piece about Sizewell and Minsmere, I found myself marvelling at the juxtaposition of a monstrous nuclear power station and a tranquil nature reserve. I am reminded of that now as I turn my attention to Hinkley Point, which is a popular spot for birdwatching. The birds frequenting the Point include Brent geese, Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail, while the fields inland host Meadow Pipit and Merlin among others, and the sea defence boulders are visited by migrant Northern Wheateaters and wintering Black Redstarts. Bordering on all this feast of feathers is the Hinkley Point B nuclear plant, a successor to the decommissioned Hinkley Point A. Hinkley Point B was begun in 1967, but due to a series of hiccups did not start generating electricity until 1976. Hinkley Point C was given planning consent in March 2013, and George Osborne recently raised eyebrows by inviting the Chinese to participate in the development of this new plant. What could possibly go wrong...?
For those who are curious about what goes on in a nuclear power station there is a Visitor Centre at Hinkley Point B with interactive displays, and tours of the plant can be arranged, all for free.
Map of the area.
|Coastal defences, west of Stolford. Photo by Roger Cornfoot, via Wikimedia Commons.|