Philip Henry Gosse, the famous Victorian naturalist and populariser of marine biology, published Land and Sea in 1865 and, in his first biography of his father , Edmund Gosse writes of the book:
..some of the sketches were rather trivial and diffusely told, besides possessing the disadvantage that they seemed like discarded chapters from other books, which indeed they were..
However, one chapter – “Meadfoot and the Starfish” - shows the writing of Henry Gosse at its best. He describes a walk from his home in St Marychurch, Torquay, to a local landmark called Daddyhole Plain and then onwards to the beach at Meadfoot (shown below in an image from the BritishBeaches website).
Gosse rested here, writing :
The exertion of walking and collecting had given just enough of fatigue to the muscular system to make the dolce far niente a luxury. Under the shadow of a great angular block, I reclined, enjoying the beauty and exhilaration of the sunlight, while relieved from its oppression. Most brilliant was the flood of light with which very object was suffused in the unclouded blaze of that summer noon. How fine was the interchange of broad light and deep dark shadow, on those angular limestone cliffs! How glowing the coloured breadths of golden furze and purple-sheeted heath, expanded sea and vaulted sky!
His attention then turned to the rock pools at Meadfoot and the algae that were abundant here, one being Delesseria sanguinea, an herbarium specimen of which is shown below (image from Wikimedia Commons).
This very fine species is not uncommon all along the coast hereabouts, but is never seen except at the lowest level of the tide, where it grows often in considerable quantity, large leafy tufts springing out of the basal angles of the perpendicular masses of rock, or in persistent tide-pools hollowed in the rock itself. It will not bear exposure to the air with impunity, as many of our sea-weeds will; for if left uncovered but a short period, a quarter of an hour or even less, the delicate rose-crimson membrane becomes defiled with large blotches of a dull orange-colour, which shew that its texture is irrevocably injured, decomposition having already set in.
Thus, Henry Gosse introduces his readers to organisms of deeper water and the alien world that represents for us: the passage also conjuring up the pleasure of investigating the sea shore, which became a passion for many Victorians. As I sit writing this piece in my study in Hertfordshire on a very sunny June day, I certainly feel the pull of Meadfoot, just as many readers of Land and Sea must have done. All the more so, as I was brought up in Torbay and walked over the same shores that so beguiled Gosse.
Quite something for a chapter written more than 150 years ago.
 Edmund Gosse (1896) The Naturalist of the Sea-shore: The Life of Philip Henry Gosse. London, William Heinemann.
 Philip Henry Gosse (1865) Land and Sea. London, James Nisbet & Co.