Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday Smuggling

I awoke early on Sunday morning with the curtains billowing in a gusting westerly wind. As I hadn't made any plans for a cycle I decided to head down the coast with Fly for a walk along some of the beaches that are a bit trickier to get to than most.

It was only 9am and low water was due around 10.30 so I had plenty of time to scramble along this bay to try and find the "smugglers" caves that I had not been to since I was a kid.

Someones pride and joy.

In 18th Centuary Britain a tax was imposed on all the fine things that were imported eg wine or fancy cloth. This tax was known as customs.  Although Scotland had an "auld alliance" with the French, the English crown had a habit of starting wars with them. This resulted in a need for more revenue and so the crown introduced excise to raise more funds. The politics meant very little to the poor people of rural communities who only knew that the cost of living was soaring and dire poverty was a very real issue. It was inevitable that people would avoid taxes and the age of smuggling began.

The romantic image of a small rowing boat coming ashore on a moonless night with a couple of barrells of Brandy is a little naive. People were starving and whole communities banded together, and often armed themselves, to avoid the dreaded revenue men.

As far as I know this tunnel isn't in any guide books. You can make out the hand cut chisel marks in the walls. There was a lot of work went into this. Further on there are little niches that I presume were for holding candles.

Twenty years ago I would have been wriggling along this tunnel like a rat up a drain pipe. These days I'm a little more cautious and also aware that I might not be able to turn around further along. The tunnels around here are rumoured to go as far as a nearby village. From what I remember this one just avoids the harbour and pops out a little further up the road.

The roof began to get a lot lower as crawled along and inevitably I bottled it and started to crawl backwards until I could turn.

This is me wondering if I'm the right shape to go any further.

It was good to get back out into the open air where Fly was patiently waiting. I'll have to come back with waterproofs, decent torches and some company. 

 These looked like sloe berries although they were a bit burned by the sea winds. 

I haven't gone into detail about the exact location of these tunnels. Anyone who knows this coast line should be able to figure out where they are.


  1. Company to go further in?
    No probs... let me know when -:)

    1. Yeah,CK. Weather isn't a problem underground so we could go exploring on a miserable weekend. There's another tunnel which is very hidden! Fancy taking a metal detector in?

  2. What a nice post, Peter! I thoroughly enjoyed your brilliant narration.
    I have been inside caves, but never inside a tunnel.
    Must be quite an experience.
    Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
    Peace :)

  3. An open invitation to you and my mate Bruce to drop in for coffee after your exertions there.