A curse for ships’ crews and cargo, the rugged North Devon coast was a blessing for ‘Gentlemen of the Night’ bringing in their ill-gotten gains, says Tor McIntosh
Brandy, gin, salt, tea and, er… playing cards were just some of the goods smuggled onto the North Devon coast during the late 18th and early 19th century. The secluded beaches were a favourite of smugglers, or ‘Gentlemen of the Night’, looking to avoid the import duties levied on wares from overseas. This rugged coastline is a popular stretch of the South West Coast Path. But unknown to the many walkers that admire it, the surrounding landscape has a rich history of smuggling and the often barbaric practice of ‘wrecking’.
Published in BBC Countryfile magazine, August 2016