The pebbles at Budleigh Salterton in Devon, UK, are famous for their wonderful colours and patterns and for the fact that they travel so far along the south coast of Britain – apparently by long shore drift.
At a first glance, the pebble beach looks pretty… but fairly unremarkable. The eye is perhaps automatically more drawn to the spectacular outcropping red rocks in the cliffs at each end of the shore, and to the rows of gaily painted beach huts.
The pebble terraces of the seashore are composed of large dry pastel-hued stones – a bit pinkish, a bit blueish. It is only as you walk down the slopes towards the edge of the sea, or to where the River Otter flows across the shore, that you become aware of the secret of the pebbles. As the pebbles become damper, their true nature begins to be visible. Until finally, right on the water’s edge, where the waves splash ashore, the wetness transforms the stones. Bright, intense colours and odd patterns are revealed. Red, pink, yellow, orange, black, white, grey, green. Spots, stripes, marbling, veining and abstract designs. A virtual kaleidoscope as the sea perpetually re-arranges the stones.
This is the first of several posts to illustrate the hidden delights of these Budleigh Salterton pebbles. They are fascinating and colourful little works of art in nature. In future posts, I will provide pebble pictures to show the variety of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns in these beach stones – and talk a bit about their origins and history.
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