Plymouth Breakwater

Sunday just gone, him indoors and I took ourselves off to the Royal William Yard to take part in a boat trip out to the Plymouth Breakwater. The trip was a three hour round journey with a stop off at the breakwater so we could all get off and walk the mile along. When Plymouth became a major sea base in the seventeenth century the volume of ships increased and with it came an amazing amount of wrecks. Ships were driven into the Plymouth Sound by southerly winds and now the water is scattered with the wreckage. In 1811 work started to create a breakwater to give protection to the Sound, a quarry was opened along the Plym in Oreston to produce the amount of stone needed – around 4 million tons- and it took three years of sinking rock to start to make a difference.

Fifty years later work started on the Breakwater Fort which was armed in 1879 with eighteen rifled guns in armoured casemates to defend the Plymouth Sound.


Sunday was a dry and clear day with calm waters but just as we boarded word came through from the harbour master that winds were 4 knots higher than should be allowed for disembarking, so we were unable to set foot on the breakwater and follow in the footsteps of the Victorian Plymouthians who would promenade along it for recreation.


I wanted to see the survival cage up close, a six foot spherical cage on a seventeen foot pole which takes it above the high water mark; this was for stranded seamen to climb into to wait until rescued.


Here’s the survival cage and beyond the breakwater you can just see the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand and the Cornish cliffs.

For more information about the breakwater and Plymouth Sound and for a closer view of the survival cage visit



About Ruth

I am an actor and theatre maker, I moved down to the SW of England 19 years ago with my partner and son. Five years ago we bought a chalet on the Rame Peninsula and are fully embracing life of the cliff.
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