Friday, September 25, 2009

braunton burrows

Due to various timetable complications the journey to Braunton Burrows is a phenomenally windy day sandwiched nicely by two calm sunny days, such are the vagaries of the british summer. Braunton Burrows is one the largest systems of dunes in europe and contains many rare and unusual plants, not many of which I can recognise. Over 400 species of plants have been recorded here including Sea Stock, Sand Toadflax and Water Germander. The area is also a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, whatever that is. I became interested in the place again after seeing the dunes in the film 'The Shout' which reminded me what a great place it was and how I hadn't been there in years.

Pathways disappear and the walker is soon plunged into heavy going waist high growth. Climbing the massive dunes one after the other soon turns into a fairly clammy experience for an August afternoon, even with the cooling strong wind. Due to the scale of the place I haven't really got the time to explore the beach side of the dunes and resolve to come back at another date, properly prepared to stay for a longer look.

This area of north devon has a reputation for surfing and has always been a major tourist destination in the summer, so the roads all around the place are an absolute nightmare to negotiate at this time of year. An interesting landscape though and I would like to spend more time here to see it in other lights. For an easier walk I would recommend following the beach side of the dunes around from the car park at the main road, from where you could dip into the dunes wherever you wanted to.


queenofthenile said...

Looks like you had the dunes completely to yourself, john. Is that right? Amazing that the dunes have managed to retain all the biodiversity of their flora in the light of Devon's popularity as a tourist destination.

nobody said...

Hallo John,

You know what I reckon? People should click on these pix to look at them at a decent rez. And then see if the same thing happens to them that happened to me.

Click on the sixth picture and tell me it doesn't look like the ocean. And the rest of them! If you had to convey the sense of a heavy mid-ocean swell but weren't allowed to shoot any actual ocean, this is as close as you could get I reckon.

Anyway, hats off John - a marvellous contemplation of shape, form, movement, and texture.

john said...

Cheers queenofthenile. Yes that's right, I didn't see anyone else in the dunes at all even though on one side is the inevitable golf course and the other side is the beach. I think once you stray off the paths you are really in solo country here as it were. It's probably a bit rough going for most folk which is why the diversity is still so good. A lovely place.

Hallo nobody. You're right! they do look like the ocean and in the sixth one it even looks like a wave breaking in front of the camera, what good eyes you have there.

I'd like to get back there again. In one of the photo's are some very big dunes way off in the distance, I would like to get down there and have a look, another time I hope. Thanks and cheers for now.

nobody said...

John, I just realised that these are 'burrows' and not 'barrows'. So I take it that there's nothing buried under them? And that these shapes all formed naturally, ie. we're talking about the environment rather than history, yeah?

Which is fine, but what's the meaning of 'burrows'? Could it be a corruption of 'boroughs' perhaps?

Anyway, curious me.

Penny said...

they yellow flowers?
are they evening primrose?

Penny said...

pardon my extra y, in the previous post, one more question.

the little plants with the red berries, what are those?
they look like an evergreen of some sort but I am not sure, do you know?

Sorry, I am big on identifying plants..

john said...

Cheers nobody, yes the dunes are a natural formation and not the man made barrows. The name is derived from the fact that the area is covered in rabbit 'burrows' at least that what I am told.

It has been said that some missing people may have been buried here as it does seem like a good place for it. Cheers for now.

john said...

Cheers Penny, don't worry about the extra 'y'

You are right, the yellow flowers are evening primrose though apparently they are not really supposed to be there, them being non native and invasive and all.

Now the other one has proved to be a bit more elusive and I can now say with some confidence that I don't know what it is. It does appear to be an evergreen shrub with red/orange berries but after having a pretty good look around I haven't been able to identify it.

One of the reasons I took the photo of it was because I have not seen it before, so if anyone else knows what it is...please let us know.

Oh and cheers for the Dave McGowan radio link Penny, I'll have a listen to that tonight. Thanks, john.

nobody said...

Thanks John, bloody obvious really. Mind you, for something that obvious it's curious that it's so singular (well, insofar as I've never encountered it). You know what I mean?

Penny said...

thanks john. since we are big on identifying the flora around us, I just had to ask, but then I thought, am I being annoying?

the berries on the evergreen are not uncommon, thinking of the juniper which has bluish berry, but I just didn't recognize that one at all.

And of course with you not living on the same continent as me, well......

oh and btw, if you got to catch Dave share your thoughts on the subject....
I'd love to hear them, the wagging the moon doggie is up, I have the link at the blog.

I am having difficulty with all this moon landing stuff.

A cognitive dissonance one might say.

john said...

Cheers nobody. There's not that many burrows around by the look of it, though there is one in Wales called Towyn Burrows at Cefn Sidan, Carmarthenshire which is near a place called Pinged which what with it being Wales is probably not pronounced Pinged but Ping-ed or somesuch.

I hope the giving up stuff is working out ok for you. I gave up smoking ciggies for about nine months. Once the forst two weeks were out of the way it got a lot easier. After two or three months I didn't even think about them but unfortuneatly after about nine months circumstances changed and I started smoking again, stupid really, but there I am but I wish you all the best with it.

john said...

Cheers Penny, no it's not annoying at all. A certain clever gardeny personage here has just waltzed in and pointed out straight away that it is Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) and the berries are very good to eat. A little quote here;

During the Cold War, Russian and East German horticulturists developed new varieties with greater nutritional value, larger berries, different ripening months and a branch that is easier to harvest. Over the past 20 years, experimental crops have been grown in the United States, one in Nevada and one in Arizona, and in several provinces of Canada.

Mystery plant species solved!

I heard the radio show and have read the article. The only trouble with questioning the moon landings is that it is such an accepted part of history and that when you question something like this people do tend to just shake their heads.

I'm no science expert but I did notice a while ago that the photo's looked a bit iffy.

When you take a good look at it as Dave has, the faults do start piling up somewhat, and there is a lot wrong with the story. I seem to remember that when Arthur C Clarke was asked about the subject all he said was something like 'It was a publicity stunt' but wouldn't really go into it.

Around the 40th anniversary I was watching some of the footage and was slightly surprised that at times there didn't seem to be any time lag between Houston and the moon when they were communicating with each other although the delay should be quite small at 1.28 seconds one way or a round trip of about 2.5. I could be wrong about this as it is not always easy for me to figure out exactly which voice is speaking and they do talk over each other as well.

A far bigger problem, as Dave mentioned, is the radiation in space and the need for effective shielding, which does appear to be a bit absent.

Experiments to recreate the environment of the moon are a bit tricky but I would be interested to know what happens to a photo in a plastic bag when exposed to a temperature of 253 Fahrenheit (123 Celsius) as the one plonked on the moon by Charlie Duke on Apollo 16, April 1972 was.

As everyone knows, it is not going to burst into flames but how would it react and how quickly?

My other thought was 'What if the first manned trip to the moon had gone horribly wrong' would they have tried again? How would America be viewed around the world if the first three astronauts had been stranded on the moon and died? It all seems pretty chancy.

Had they ever managed to land a practise lunar lander safely and with any consistancy? from the wik;

'In all, NASA built five LM trainers of this type. During training flights at Ellington AFB near Houston, Texas, three of the five vehicles were destroyed in crashes. Two were an early version called the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle or LLRV. Neil Armstrong was flying LLRV-1 on May 6, 1968 when it went out of control. He ejected safely and the vehicle crashed. A later version was called the Lunar Landing Training Vehicle or LLTV and three were built. Two of these were lost in crashes on December 8, 1968 (piloted by Joe Algranti) and January 29, 1971 (piloted by Stuart Present). The other pilots also ejected safely from the crashing LLTV's.'

Doesn't bode well for not fucking it up on the moon eh?

nobody said...

Cool John, that bit about the landers is yet another unlikely story in a long string of them. My favourite bit from McGowan's recent efforts was how ALL of the records went missing. The most singular scientific achievement of the twentieth century and they 'lost' all of the data.

I mean, seriously...

john said...

cheers nobody, no it doesn't look that good for nasa really. Dave McGowan did a good job of the moon landing story. I can't say I'm looking forward to the moon crash on saturday morning though I don't imagine it will do any significant damage as the moon does appear to be a bit cratered already.

As to the not smoking, eating plenty of snacks can help take the mind off it, fruit is good too. In a couple of weeks it will be much easier, breathing becomes better, sense of smell and taste return.

Penny said...

thanks john

I have heard of buckthorn, supposed to be quite nutritious, your right.

I have not seen them in my locale,
btw: Ricolah, makes a buckthorn berry throat lozenge.

Have you read all 5 parts of that piece already, yikes, I haven't gotten around to it.
I started on part 2, but, I have to reread it as it was a bit confusing to me.
Plus I hate reading lenghty pieces on the computer..
That is interesting though about the the lunar trainers ending badly, ending very badly..
Your right it doesn't bode well for the larger manned moon landings claims

john said...

cheers Penny, I don't really know which locations Buckthorn will grow in, its a nice looking plant I think though. It's very tolerant of airborn pollution as well as salt winds apparently.

I have, erm, a bit more time to read things at the moment what with being a bit underemployed and all. I do find it really hard to read entire novels sat at a desk in front of a monitor though, not exactly conducive. Anyway I'll just nip over to yours to see what you have written about todays moon crash. cheers for now.

new photo's coming soon.