Stolford represents the easternmost coastal exposures of the Jurassic Lias in Somerset. Instead of cliffs, the area features a substantial foreshore platform comprising limestone and shale bands. Unfortunately, the foreshore platform is often covered in algae and mud, making collection activities quite challenging. Notably, the village of Stolford in coastal Somerset has become the first location in the UK to benefit from a flood defense scheme pioneered in the Netherlands.The innovative 'Hillblock' system, a form of block revetment widely employed in Holland, will be implemented in Stolford. This flood defense system will provide a higher level of protection against floods compared to the village's existing coastal defenses. Moreover, it will also be more cost-effective to maintain. Around 20 properties and approximately 70 hectares of agricultural land in this remote community overlooking the Bristol Channel will reap the benefits of this flood defense initiative.Bridgwater Bay encompasses a section of the Somerset coastline along the southern side of the Bristol Channel, stretching from the Quantock Hills in the southwest to Brean Down in the north. The coastal area displays a wave-cut platform composed of Jurassic Blue Lias. Several rivers, including the Parrett, Brue, Washford, and the man-made River Huntspill, flow into the bay. Noteworthy features and settlements along the coastline, from northeast to southwest, include Brean, Berrow, Burnham on Sea, the mouth of the River Parrett, the Steart Peninsula, Lilstock, East Quantoxhead, and Watchet.The prevailing westerly winds have given rise to sand dunes at Berrow and a shingle ridge at Steart. Additionally, the remains of a submerged forest dating back to 2500 B.C. to 6500 B.C. can be found on the beach near Stogursey. Brean Down, comprising carboniferous limestone, marks the eastern end of the bay and serves as a continuation of the Mendip Hills. Steep Holm and Flat Holm, two small islands, further extend this geological formation. Brean Down, owned by the National Trust, boasts abundant wildlife, historical significance, and archaeological treasures, earning its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.The promontory of Brean Down is characterized by steep cliffs and is home to Brean Down Fort, constructed in 1865 and later re-armed during the Second World War. The site features an Iron Age hill fort, prehistoric barrows, field systems, and a pagan shrine. The shrine, dating back to pre-Roman times, was re-established as a Romano-Celtic style temple in the mid-4th century. It may have been succeeded by a small late-4th century Christian oratory. In 1897, Guglielmo Marconi set a new distance record for wireless transmission by relocating his equipment from Lavernock Point in Wales to Brean Down.Due to the significant tidal range of 15 meters (49 ft), the bay experiences extensive mud flats, which can reach a width of 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) during low tide. These intertidal mud flats pose potential dangers and often require rescue operations by emergency services. To address this, a Swedish-built BBV6 rescue hovercraft was acquired through a local fundraising campaign following the tragic death of Lelaina Hall off Berrow in 2002. The hovercraft is operated by the Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) in Burnham-on-Sea.Large sections of the bay's coastline, particularly within the western part of the reserve, can be accessed via a waymarked public footpath. Furthermore, the renowned South West Coast Path commences at Minehead, located at the bay's western end. The bay's substantial tidal range presents potential opportunities for energy generation, prompting considerations for a tidal barrage in the area.Hinkley Point, situated 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Burnham-on-Sea and near the mouth of the River Parrett, is a headland extending into Bridgwater Bay. The landscape of Hinkley Point is dominated by two nuclear power stations: Hinkley Point A - Magnox (now closed) and Hinkley Point B - AGR. There are plans to construct Hinkley Point C, a third twin-unit European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) reactor, in the area.The man-made sea defenses in the region include a sea wall at Burnham-on-Sea and a 3-kilometer (1.9 mi) section south from Brean Down. Additionally, managed sand dune belts serve both protective and wildlife habitat purposes. Concerns have been raised regarding the potential impacts of the proposed Severn Barrage, which could lead to certain sites being left exposed or permanently submerged. The Steart Peninsula has experienced multiple floods throughout history, with the most severe occurring in 1981. Fragility and potential failure of coastal defenses prompted the production of the Stolford to CombwichCoastal Defense Strategy Study by The Environment Agency in 2002. This study aimed to explore future options for addressing coastal erosion, sea level rise, and wave action.
This camera was installed and is maintained by the Environment Agency and can be viewed here.
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Watchet, located at the mouth of the Washford River and on the edge of Exmoor National Park, features a rocky foreshore and a small harbor. The cliffs between Watchet and Blue Anchor exhibit a distinctive pale, greenish-blue hue, attributed to the presence of colored alabaster in the area. In the 16th century, the name "Watchet" or "Watchet Blue" was used to describe this particular color.Previously, East Quantoxhead had a small harbor that facilitated the transportation of limestone for local limekilns and the export of alabaster. It is believed that the harbor was also utilized for smuggling activities.Kilve is home to the remains of a red brick retort built in 1924 to extract oil from the shale found in the cliffs. This area is part of the Blue Anchor to Lilstock Coast SSSI, recognized for its special scientific interest. The cliffs along this coast showcase layers of compressed oil-bearing shale, as well as blue, yellow, and brown lias containing embedded fossils. In 1924, the Shaline Company was established by Forbes-Leslie to exploit these resources. However, the company faced difficulties in securing sufficient capital, and the remaining red brick retort stands as a reminder of the unrealized Somerset oil boom.Overall, these locations in Somerset's coastal areas boast diverse geological features, historical significance, and ecological value. Efforts are being made to enhance flood defenses and protect these areas from the potential risks posed by coastal erosion, sea level rise, and extreme weather events.