The same tremendous forces that have caused rocks to be heaved up and folded in other parts of South West England caused similar deformations along this coast. The rocks were caught between two converging tectonic plates, were compressed and their minerals re-crystallised and re-orientated. This resulted in the more mud-rich rocks developing the ability to easily split (this is known as slaty cleavage’).
Good examples of slaty cleavage can be seen with care from the cliffs at Windy Cove on Morte Point and further along in the cliffs of Tunnel Beach at Ilfracombe. As the name suggests, Tunnel Beach is reached through a tunnel which branches to the left and right. The left branch leads to ‘Gent’s Beach’ whilst the right branch takes you to ‘Lady’s Beach’, a reminder of the days when trips to the seaside were undertaken with a sense of decorum and modesty in mind.
This stretch of coastline is a Voluntary Marine Conservation Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Devon Wildlife Trust organises guided rock pool adventures, there are mini-marine centres at Ilfracombe Museum, Mortehoe Heritage Centre and Braunton Countryside Centre. The National Trust organise guided walks and events including tractor/trailer rides to see the seals at Morte Point. There is a small geology display at the Mortehoe Heritage Centre.