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129


Heritage


On the cliff edge just before Lannacombe Beach stands the ruin of an old water mill. The millstones that once ground the grain can be seen laid beside the path. This mill was the victim of an attack by French


privateers during the Napoleonic Wars. The plucky miller, determined that the raiders would not seize his savings, threw his money bag out of the window during the plunder. The following day he found that, miraculously, the bag had not disappeared into the sea but got caught in the branches of a small tree on the cliff edge. East Prawle has also been the site of mayhem


brought by the sea. An Italian ship was wrecked nearby one night in 1872. The crew safely made it ashore and were put up in the village. Later that night, however, one of the crewmen went mad, stabbing three of his shipmates and two of the local coastguards and their wives, before being killed by a blow from a cutlass. Landscape The Green Lanes which take you out of East Prawle and then back towards it on the return leg, are part of an ancient network of rural byways. They have been used by farmers, drovers, traders and smugglers over centuries and possibly even millennia. Some of South Devon’s green lanes were neglected


and fell into disrepair over the years. However, many of them have been restored through two recent initia- tives, On the Right Tracks and Life into Landscape. These projects raised money to repair erosion and carry out traditional hedgelaying on the old Devon banks. Looking east from the coast path, the stretch of cliff


beyond Lannacombe reaches out to Start Point, site of a lighthouse - automatic these days, with no lighthouse keeper. The last sea pirate to be captured, Henry Muge, was hanged in chains at the Point in 1582. The ground on which you walk through the grassy


sward and arable fields around Maelcombe was once underwater. In past ages, when sea levels were much higher, the steep high ground to your right was sea cliffs and the waves lapped in around their feet.


Wildlife


Prawle is the most southerly spot in Devon. This means that it is the first point of arrival and last port of call for all kinds of migrating birds and butterflies. In spring and autumn in particular, it pays to keep your eyes peeled for rare winged visitors during your walk. The green lane leading out of East Prawle is fringed with bluebells in the spring and on through the summer with sprays of the leggy red campion with its bright pink flowers. As you drop down


towards the coast path at Woodcombe, you pass through grass and haw- thorn scrub. This makes for a rich and increasingly rare kind of habitat. Areas like this support a whole local ‘food chain’, from grasses, flowers and insects to birds, small


Stitchwort


©-Kenneth--Allen geograph-2389323


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