A study of light and texture, this striking composition by James Ravilious shows two mothers and their children on the beach at Westward Ho! in 1975.
The pram immediately draws the eye. It looks out of place on the huge expanse of sand and rock leading down to the water’s edge, and you do wonder however they got the slightly cumbersome item down on to the beach in the first place!
The image was taken on the south western corner of Westward Ho! sands, where the sand meets the rocky foreshore, says Dave Edgcombe, project officer for the North Devon AONB team.
He explains that the sand levels fluctuate according to the weather and tides, sand often moving off the beach in wintery, stormy conditions before building up again during the calmer, summer months.
Westard Ho! is famous for its smooth polished pebbles – and you won’t find them on the Braunton to Exmoor coastline, says Dave.
“They are the result of ‘longshore drift’,” he says. “This is eroded cliff material taken from further along the coast to the west of Bideford Bay which has been slowly moved by wave action along the base of the cliffs towards Westward Ho!”
The material is constantly ground down by the waves, creating the highly polished pebbles which then form into a single spit, the famous pebble ridge.
“The pebbles you see on the beach in the picture are almost certainly the product of coastal erosion within the western part of Bideford Bay and may have begun life as part of the cliffs that existed somewhere near Bucks Mills or Clovelly.”
So, this is a scene that will be constantly changing, not just the people, but also the landscape which surrounds them. The pebbles are hard to walk on, but they make a perfect, sun warmed seat if you find the right one. Note the patterns in the sand, no doubt made by the children using sticks to leave their marks. How many of us feel the urge to leave trails and write messages in a stretch of clean, wave-washed sand?