Tuesday 1 September 2020

Warwickshire Avon - Pot-Wallopers and Polypragmatists

Now Northam Burrows not far from Instow where we were staying is famous for its pebble ridge.  It's huge too literally as long as the eye can see.

Described by poets and writers over the years it still represents an amazing natural geological phenomenon as well as playing a vital part in the coastal defences of North Devon.

Without it there would be no Northam or Saunton Burrows, no Chivenor and no Fremington Marshes. Over the years, however, the ridge has periodically declined in height and breadth and to maintain its integrity local people have got together to throw back those pebbles thrown onto the Burrows by wave action.

No-one seems to know when the custom began but the name ‘pot-wallopers’ given to the locals who do this is of some antiquity.

Pot-walloping used to be an annual event and their numbers were swelled by many others who had seen posters advertising the event which promised ‘proper refreshment’ to all who took part. Talking of which there is a good fish and chips kiosk situated there now, they do a lovely battered sausage. 

Actual numbers involved aren’t given but ‘scores’ of men began work at the Westward Ho! end of the ridge. They apparently collected the scattered pebbles and loaded them into carts which then took them back for unloading directly onto the ridge. 

Progress was slow, but sure and the men laboured for five-and-a-half hours by which time ‘the whole of the ridge from Westward Ho! to the Golf house had been well and truly done’.

Whilst the work was going on the men were liberally supplied with roast beef, bread and cheese and liquid refreshment. 

This made the work go smoothly and following the clean up hundreds of people visited the Burrows, and ‘a variety of amusements were indulged in’.

So ended that pot-walloping day to everyone’s satisfaction. 

The custom has now been discontinued due to the spiralling cost of insurance for those taking part as it was considered dangerous, which is a shame and a rather sad, bureaucratic way for an old custom to die.

Now talking of dangerous the slope down to the water at the syndicate stretch was rather slippy after the recent rains so much so, fellow syndicate member George Burton went to work and created some steps to aid the other syndicate members. otherwise the public liability policy number might have to be dug out.

So when I returned from holiday I went for a few hours to cook up some bankside brunch and also have a couple of hours fishing and put some bark down ,to not only help to keep the steps nice and dry and firm but the bark would also help to prevent it from turning in to a mud pit and the good work ruined.

George had done a cracking job to be fair so didn't take me long to tart it up.

I had worms from ones thriving wormery and a handful of maggots and it was a bite a chuck on the quiver. I had a little fishmeal groundbait too and bleak were plundering in to as soon as it hit the surface.

A small shot took the worm down past them quickly though and it really was a bite a chuck. A river full of dace (a decent stamp too) and the odd small chublet mixed in with them.

Nothing big and a quick whistle-stop trip, still enjoyable though, I might trot next time I'm sure I would convert more bites in to banked fish.

So what to fish for next ? I'm not sure, I might stick with the Barbel and Chub at dusk and beyond and then switch to maybe trying for a river Zander. 


  1. Yo Mick,

    I would love to read a blog written by someone called Mick about wormery management from an angling perspective - it's my next thing. Know anyone who could oblige please!? :)

    1. Can do Keith not much to it but yeah can sort something maybe, hope all good with you !!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...