Thursday, 27 February 2014


In the summer of 1813 John Keble was 'engaged in private tuition' at Sidmouth and John Taylor Coleridge, nephew to the poet, was passing his vacation at Ottery St Mary.  The two young men  (they were in their early twenties)  many times walked together between the two.  This is JTC's description of the route:

"The foot-way from one place to the other was over the steep ridge which divides the two valleys of the Sid and the Otter, the distance not more than six miles, and the views on the way remarkably beautiful.  It was a delightful walk, and the frequent intercourse between us was principally kept up on foot over the hill.  At the termination of the ridge where it drops down with a steep descent into the Sidmouth Gap,  are the remains of an Armada beacon, according to the tradition of the country.  These, at the time I speak of, were not, as they are now, suffered to be overgrown and hidden by a plantation of firs.  There on the short green turf we often rested and enjoyed a view which for beauty, variety and extent is not easily to be surpassed.  At our feet was spread out Harpford - wood as a grand carpet laid on a surface here and there deeply indented, and beyond lay the rich and wooded valley of the Otter; thence the ground rises in successive ranges of hills, until you reach the higher outlines of Dartmoor.  Down deep on the left lay Sidmouth and the blue sea;  this sea view is interrupted by the bluff and wooded landward end of Peak-hill,  and opens again beyond this to a wide range of sea and sea-coast, down to and beyond the Berry Head, the westermost point of Torbay."

From "A Memoir of the Rev.John Keble, M.A."  by Sir J. T. Coleridge.  Jas Parker, 1869.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


It's February and a dismal day.
Coal black cloud has robbed us of the sun.
I wander mopish on my clifftop way
and don't perhaps look forward to much fun.

When suddenly, a glory not expected,
a gleam, a glare, a brightness from the sea,
the sun's face hidden still but so reflected
my winter shadow has crept home to me!

Now too is warmth.   On Weston heights I rest
at th' bench on th' beetling cliff, bask in the bright
mirror of sea, there to watch our good knight best
his dragon, to watch where dark is slain by light.