Botany Bay, springtime edition

Back during the winter holiday season, I visited Botany Bay Plantation, on Edisto Island, South Carolina, for the first time.  I wrote a short post about that trip.  Last weekend, I went back to take another (relatively quick) look.

First I have to mention that when you turn off the main road on Edisto Island (SC Highway 174) to get to Botany Bay, you then have to drive about two miles down a dirt road to get to the main entrance to the site.  While driving this stretch of road you will notice two things.  One, the road is essentially covered by a canopy of large oak and pine trees, with Spanish moss hanging off trees in almost a stereotypical fashion.  The other thing you will notice (at least, your spine will notice) is that the road is quite rutted.  My 1999 Saturn SL2 managed fairly well, all things considered.  I’m not so sure about my back.

Once you reach the entrance gate you will be greeted by a genial DNR volunteer, who will sign you in (speaking of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, here is a link to its BBP webpage; you can also find all kinds of information about the plantation and other areas of Edisto Island at this site).  After entering, you will drive for another mile or so (passing a ranch-style house with a fenced-in field; there were two beautiful horses grazing there when I passed by the other day).  You can turn left after a mile and continue on a “tour” of the site, or go right and park in a clearing next to some marshland, where you can then walk (about a half-mile) to the beach.

In other words, there is no valet parking.  (There are also no facilities, if you know what I mean.)

The reward for making the trek to the beach is a view of undeveloped coastline that you don’t see every day.  This particular area is south of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island and just north of Edisto Beach.

I also wandered around the “tour” area, which includes some farmland, lakes, woodlands, marshland, and ruins from a 19th-century plantation.  It’s interesting stuff.  I was hoping to see more birds this time out, but I think that would entail a little more hiking than I wanted to do; the fall season may prove more conducive to that.  After reading the comments of a couple of local birdwatchers in various newspaper articles about the place, though, I was disappointed not to have an ivory-billed woodpecker land on my shoulder while I was there.

At any rate, here are some more pictures.  As always, keep in mind the mediocre picture-taking ability of the photographer and the limitations of his camera:

Road to BBDon't shootOnly kids get shellsLow tide along the marshMore marshCoastlineBeach to woodsBeach treesBefore high tideLooking out to the oceanShells on treesWoodlandsFind the crabsFarmin'Under a big oak treeFishin'Another viewSleeping oystersGladsLakeviewCatch and releaseOn the tourAnother view of the lakeBBP

Botany Bay Plantation — Edisto Island, South Carolina

Hotelier John Meyer died on New Year’s Day, 1977.  In his will, he left an enormous (4,687 acres) parcel of land called Botany Bay Plantation to the State of South Carolina, with the proviso that it would remain the property of his wife until her death.  Margaret Meyer Pepper maintained (and improved) the land over the next 30 years, until her death in 2007.  Late this summer, it was opened to the general public for the first time.

There are a number of places in the world called Botany Bay (and somewhat confusingly, at least to me, adjacent to the BBP property is another plot of land referred to as Botany Bay).  If you are going to call something Botany Bay, it better be something special.  Edisto Island’s Botany Bay Plantation certainly qualifies.

You can read more about it on the South Carolina DNR website.  Also, there were several newspaper articles about the site written when DNR began allowing public access.

I visited the BBP Wildlife Management Area for the first time this week.  It’s winter, so the visible wildlife is limited, but it’s easy to see the potential for viewing scores of species (especially birds) once the weather gets warmer.  Basically, this place is a mix of an undeveloped beach (about two miles in length) and coastal wetlands, along with a forest of pine, oak, and palmetto, and some agricultural fields.  It’s a natural game preserve (there will be some limited hunting and catch-and-release fishing allowed).

I’m going to go back in the spring.  For now, here are some pictures I took.  I’m not the most talented of photographers, and my camera is not exactly top of the line, but they give you at least a hint of what this area is like.  Most of them are of the beach.  Also included is a photo of a 19th-century icehouse (that looks a little like a church; the builder obviously believed in stylized icehouses).