In the Autumn of last year I published an article on Britain’s Historic Harbours and following on from that I thought it worth taking a look at some of the more notable boat wrecks I have discovered on my journey around the British Isles. The wonderful wrecks usually provide a really good focal point with plenty of character and if you are lucky, also in some wonderful coastal scenery. Of the four locations, I’m recalling two are in Scotland and one each in England and Wales. We’ll start in Scotland on the Isle of Mull and certainly the most photographed wrecks on the island if not in the whole of Scotland. On the east coast of the island on the Sound of Mull is the village of Salen, approximately halfway between Craignure and Tobermory. The full name of the settlement is ‘Sàilean Dubh Chaluim Chille’ (the black little bay of St Columba). Nearly all of the boat names are no longer visible but after some research, I have established one of is called “Girl Claire”. The others being “Pavonia” and “Elsie May” hence the title of the image.
On another of the Scottish islands – Islay I discovered the wreck of the trawler “Wyre Majestic”. She ran ashore on passage from Oban close to the Bunnahabhain Distillery. The rusting remains, visible in the middle right of the image still sit resting on the rocks, across the Sound from the Paps of Jura. The area in and around the Sound of Islay is a notorious graveyard of ships with over 50 wrecks catalogued. There are strong rips and currents that boil through the narrow sound and these have caught many vessels unawares.
Moving on now to the south-east corner of England in Kent and the wonderfully strange landscape of Dungeness which is at the end of a mile and a half shingle promontory, between New Romney, Lydd and Camber on Romney Marsh. The motor fishing boat “Tina” lies on the beach and is a long way from the shoreline, which through a natural phenomenon known as Long Shore Drift, is now about 700 yards away. The sea has retreated from Dungeness for many years, and at this point, along the beach, there are dozens of boats and winding engines long since abandoned.
For our final location we are visiting Wales and the wonderful coastline of the Gower Peninsula and in particular one of the most dramatic bays in Europe, three-mile-wide Rhossili Bay presents a staggering view across the adjacent clifftops which rise above 200 feet. The dramatic hillside setting of Rhossili Down rises to 600 feet above the sweeping bay. Down on the beach, the ocean-stripped oak carcass of the “Helvetia” which was shipwrecked in 1887 is still visible today and an easily recognised landmark of Rhossili.
Researching the history of these wonderful wrecks always brings another dimension to my landscape photography and sharing this with others always makes the extra effort worthwhile.
I hope that you share my interest in these wrecks and if so why not take a look at Part 2.