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At the outskirts of the town you pass the remains of Salcombe Castle--portions of two round towers, one larger than the other, and a broken stair, standing on a rock between the road and the water; celebrated for its vigorous resistance to the Parliamentary forces in 1645. For four months did the thunder of cannon shake the walls and startle the peaceful hills before the resolute governor, Sir Edmund Fortescue, would yield; and then the besiegers, admiring his bravery, let him carry away the key of the castle and march out with the honours of war. And there it remains, quiet enough now, a memorial of the progress of the " good old cause.” Presently the road descends to the North Sands, the first of the two low beaches that look so white from the opposite shore, and which, judging from appearances on the surrounding escarpement, have sunk down many feet below their ancient level. And a few feet below the loose surface there is other evidence of subsidence: a hazel copse, with stems and nuts all fossilized. Then you cross the Molt by a shady avenue, and come down on the South Sands, a similar sandy patch to the former, and from thence to the broad path carried along the flank of the steep, hilly projection, terminated by the Head. Farther on it makes a sharp turn at a rocky corner, where crags overhang on the right, and a precipice descends sheer to the water on the left. The view, looking back and across the estuary, is extremely pleasing. The scenery grows wilder as you advance ; the path ends at a fence, and after that you have only a dim track, which in turn disappears, and
you take your own course along the smooth and slippery
turf. When at some distance beyond the crags they are seen to be the finish of what has all the effect of a chain of hills dipping suddenly into the sea.
Here again the scenery becomes wilder at every step, the cliffs bolder, the slopes more broken and abrupt, and the final climb to the top of the Head very steep and fatiguing. But once up you will find many a resting-place among the masses of mica slate that crown the point. The ends of the strata here standing perpendicu. lar bear witness to rude upheaval in their past history. There is a savage sublimity about the place. The solitude complete. No sheep or donkeys grazing as at the Prawle. Soft cushions of heath swell up between the topmost crags, 430 feet above the sea, and on these you may lie at ease and look over the edge. The seaward face is a slope not too steep for an adventurous foot, and there you may descend by zigzags to the verge of a precipice below; but not every one will feel inclined to venture down in that direction. The steep winding roadway of Stair Hole affords safer access to the narrow strip of beach, worth exploring, as also Bull's Hole, a cavern which, opening in a low part of the cliff, penetrates the entire hill, and comes to light again in a bay some two miles off; at least such is the tradition of the neighbourhood, coupled with an old story, current also in Spain and India, about a bull that went in black at one end and came out white at the other. Queer names, too, are given to some of the rocks about different parts of the Head; but unless the
objects have some significance-some association to make them worth remembering—something, indeed, beyond mere fancy—one need hardly take pains to verify their outline. I was quite satisfied to survey all the rocks within view, as rocks, although there may have been among them the Great and Little Goat, and the Old Man and his Children. The trails and wedges of ivy, in beautiful contrast with the deep orange lichen that coated some of the dark, gray stones, were charm enough for me.
Westward the shore continues bold and lofty, a solid mass of high ground, nearly on a level, jutting here and there on the sea in magnificent cliffs which can only be seen partially from the several points. Fully to appreciate them in their blackness and grandeur, their rifts, chasms, and caverns, you should take a boat at Salcombe, and sail round to Hope Cove, and thus get a view from below of Bolt Head, Bolt Tail, and all the intervening range of cliffs. Looking from above, the effect of the black, sheer, perpendicular wall is in places tremendous. The walk along the summit is rough and toilsome, and the flat, furze-patched tableland rather dreary; but the glimpses down into the depths will recompense the exertion. Yonder, on the right, is the church tower of Marlborough, amid broad, rolling fields; and nearer, distinguished by its flagstaff, a small off-station of the coast-guard, where the three men have just room to swing their hammocks between walls hung with a formidable array of pistols and cutlasses. At the top of the descent into Saw-mill Cove I fell in with one of the men who was removing some of the impediments from the path with a hoe. Having an errand to the “ conference rock,” which he pointed out on the opposite hill, he shouldered his implement and walked with me. He was one of the old pensioners appointed in place of the men drafted off for the
navy, and by a touch of the hoe here and there every day, had already made the path safer as well as smoother.
My two comrades laugh at me,” he said, “and say nobody will thank me for my trouble; but I keep on all the same, and ain't a bit the worse satisfied if the path is better for others as well as myself.”. His philosophy, however, was occasionally disturbed by mischievous boys, who hurled away the large lumps of white stone which he fetched from a distance to mark the dangerous places; yet he hoped to tire them out in the end. It was terrible work going down the steep sides of the cove the first night he joined; had to find his way without a companion, and had a narrow escape of walking over the precipice. He could no longer climb the steeps as in his younger days; but if less active he was more careful, and didn't mean to flinch from duty, although the temptation to keep away from the edge of the cliffs on a dark and stormy night was hardly to be resisted.
Saw-mill Cove is the only opening in the cliffs between Bolt Head and Tail, and with sides so abrupt that rude steps are cut in the turf to facilitate ascent and descent. Two small streams run along the bottom, and following them down to the scanty beach, you see the
western entrance of Bụll's Hole, and the Ham Stone, a big rock in the sea. After “a blow,” the people of the neighbourhood hasten hither to pick up the waifs and strays cast on shore; sometimes there is nothing but oarweed, and in such quantities that from fifty to a hundred cart-loads have been drawn from this one little spot. “Now and then,” whispered the old pensioner, “they carry off something as well as seaweed, before we can get down to stop them.”
I left the ancient at the stony hump which he called the “conference rock," where he paced up and down on the short well-worn track, waiting for the man from Hope, to interchange reports, communicate warnings and suspicions, and talk as befits guardians of the
Another stiff pull and I was on the top of Bolbury Down, a higher table-land, rough with brake and bramble. The edge of the cliffs is not to be taken except in full daylight, for you come ere long to the Rotten Pits, a strange sort of landslip, which, sunken long ago, gives you the idea of being still about to fall; and the broken masses are flung one on the other in wild confusion, with crevices between too deep for the eye to penetrate. The mouths of some, overhung with grass
and ferns, have an inviting appearance, especially on a hot day; but they must be approached with a wary step. And a short distance farther on you have to be still more cautious, where another disturbance has taken place, and produced, not a slip, but a splitting of the land ; and for a considerable space within the edge of the cliff and parallel to it, the surface is cut up