In ancient times Hartland Point’s wild majesty came to the attention of no less than Ptolemy of Ancient Greece, who christened it “The Promontory of Hercules”. The headland, which marks the point where the western end of the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean, is reached by a narrow road leading to a car park above Barley Bay, or alternatively there is a 6-mile stretch of the coastal path from Clovelly. Standing on a small ‘table’ of land at the base of the cliffs is the whitewash lighthouse with a helipad, built in 1874 by Sir James Douglass. Remedial work had to be done in order to mitigate against the erosion of the rock under the lighthouse by the sea. There have been numerous shipwrecks off the Point over the years, including one dating from 1983 called the MS Johanna, carrying wheat from the Netherlands. The rusted remains of the hull can still be seen lying forlornly at the base of the cliffs.
Hartland Quay was built under the sponsorship of Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was used as a port for shipping produce such as coal until bad storms during the 19th century caused it to start breaking up. Now Hartland Quay is no more than a place name since nothing remains of the quay itself. There is, however, a ShipwreckMuseum. Nearby Hartland Abbey was built on the site of a monastery founded in the 12th century. The Abbey, which is a private home, is open to visitors in the summer and houses a large collection of Victorian and Edwardian photographs. There is a woodland walk through the grounds to the coast.
Map of the area.
|Hartland Point lighthouse. Photo by Becks, via Wikimedia Commons|