The area of Eastbourne at the foot of Beachy Head is called Holywell. The name comes from a spring that seeps through the cliffs and emerges underneath a chalk outcrop known as Pinnacle Point. Most of the springwater is now collected at a pumping station next to the point, and only a trickle comes out on the beach at a little grotto.

Holywell is pronounced “Hollywell”, so no one knows if people once thought the site was holy or if the well was simply near a holly tree. But it certainly feels magical, far removed in time from the town’s apartments and ice-cream kiosks. When I was out walking there a couple of days ago, there was a guy playing an alpine horn (one of those horns that’s so long the base rests on the ground) in front of the grotto, which was unexpected! Even more surprising, there were flowers growing on the cliff face, including several of these blue spikes. I believe they’re Viper’s Bugloss or Echium Vulgare.

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I was particularly struck by this one pointing towards the pinnacle.

pinnacle point

Well’s miracle,

Chalk towers flowering blue,

Pinnacle points.

~~~

(c) Jackie Le Poidevin

Linked to Carpe Diem: A lovely name. Holywell and Pinnacle Point are certainly both lovely names but none of the Echium’s many names do it justice – it’s also called blueweed, adderwort, blue devil and snake flower, among other things.

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