CLOVELLY SMUGGLERS AND WRECKERS ON DEVON'S NORTH COAST
There was a time long ago when lights flashing in the darkness from Clovelly's lonely shore on the north coast of Devon were not for guiding ships in peril, but rather to draw vessels, floundering like captive fish, onto rocks guaranteed to tear hulls asunder. The keening of the wind, killer waves crashing on the beach and the rain, incessant drum beats on sea and sand, all helped to disguise the shouts of wreckers and the screams of drowning passengers.
As I looked down from a cliff-top at the village of Clovelly, it was not surprising to me that for centuries the nefarious occupations of wrecking and smuggling had thrived on this wild and jagged shore. It seemed as if a giant hand had gouged out chunks of cliff and rock where land meets sea, leaving thousands of hidden cavities for illicit activities.
Hereabouts, romantic tales of smugglers, pirates and wreckers committing daring deeds on moonlit nights abound. But in the real world, smugglers and wreckers operated mostly on stormy nights when gales turned the sea to a raging fiend and ships wallowed in its destructive turbulence.
An excerpt from my up-coming book...
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 6th February, 2012