Tag Archive | Kent UK

Botany Bay Kent UK

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Along the coast of Kent between Margate and Broadstairs is Botany Bay.  This bay has a long, yellow sand beach, chalk reef and towering chalk cliffs with some sea stacks.  Today I visited the bay with my mum as I enjoy a UK vacation.

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My mum’s dog, Archie the Westie, patrolling the cliffs

Infamous as a landing place for smugglers in the 18th century, the beach was actually the site of a clash between smugglers and Revenuers in 1769 that resulted in several deaths.  The encounter has come to be known as the Battle of Botany Bay.  It involved Joss Snelling and his considerable band of smuggling cohorts known as the Callis Court Gang.  The Revenue Patrol ambushed the gang as they unloaded their goods and shooting ensued.

Smugglers cut caves and tunnels into the soft chalk cliffs to use as storage places for the contraband and as escape routes.  The closed-up remains of these caves and tunnels can still be seen today.  The most well-known features of Botany Bay are the impressive chalk sea stacks.  These free-standing towers are the remains of cliffs that have been cut away by the endless wash of the sea.a8

Newly eroded chalk is pure, blinding white in the sun.  It quickly weathers to a gray-white and is often colonized by algae.a9

If you move up close to the seaward side of a cliff you will find the rock is riddled with holes.  Limpets creep into the holes for safety during low tide.  It is remarkable how well they fit the holes.a6

a7This part of the English coast looks out across the Channel toward France.  There is a huge windfarm off-shore.  Cargo ships often shelter on this side of the channel when it is too choppy for crossing.  It is not uncommon to see several large ships close to shore.a4

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Skate or ray egg case and whelk egg cases

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Whelk shell

Strolling the beach revealed a healthy population of whelk and some type of skate or ray as evidenced by the plethora of eggs.  The strangely shaped black ray eggs are also called mermaids purses.  There were numerous egg cases to be found, along with shells of the large sea snails.

With the great expanse of fine sand, the impressive cliffs and the safe waters with a mild current, it is easy to see why this beach is popular in the summer.  And also why smugglers found it a convenient spot to ply their lucrative trade.

This article contains interesting information about the Battle of Botany Bay:  http://www.thanet-ghostwatch.co.uk/history/smug1.htm

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Sarre Windmill


When the weather turns cold, dark and damp (as it has been for five days) my thoughts stray to warmer climes than Maine. Places where the air is balmier and the sun shows more frequently. I revisit in my mind the spots I have toured.

One delightful side trip was to the windmill at Sarre in Kent, UK, near my mother’s home in Birchington.  My mum and I hopped the bus for a short ride to the mill.  From miles around the windmill is visible rising above the fairly level farmlands of Kent.  Locally grown grain is milled at Sarre.

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Mum at Sarre mill

 

At the time we visited, several years ago, there was a visitors shop and tea room on the first floor.  The windmill is operational and produced the flours available in the shop and used to make the baked goods for tea.  I’ve read that since our visit the place has been converted into lodgings, although the mill still runs.  It might be a fun place to stay on my next visit to Mum.

The mill was built in 1820 on the site of a previous mill, and operated until the 1930s.  It had a steam engine installed as alternate power on calm days.  After 1920 it ran on a gas engine as the sweeps (also called sails) were removed to another mill. From the 1930s till 1985 the mill languished and deteriorated. Then, some energetic people bought the place and restored the mill to operation.

The building stands 4.5 stories tall including a 1.5 story brick base and the sails.  It is termed a smock mill due to the particular construction of a fixed timber tower with a movable cap and attached sweeps.a2

When the wind turns the sweeps there is a noticeable whoosh as they rotate.  Inside the building, the squeaks and squeals and rumblings of the turning machinery are very impressive.

Several cogged wheels convert the action of the turning sweeps down to the stones set in the base that grind the grain.

A visitor could climb nearly to the top via narrow stairways.  The windows afforded wide views of the surrounding countryside.a7a9

We visited the mill on a brisk spring afternoon.  The fields were green, trees budding, the sky bright blue with wispy clouds and a soft breeze gave the sails a lazy spin.  So nice to remember this sojourn far from the browns and grays of a snowless December in Maine.