27 January 2016

northam burrows

No cliffs here. And it's only occasionally really deserted, given the proximity of several overlapping communities nearby, and road access. A lot of sand and a deep foreshore, prone to winds and sky. As the tide retreats extensive pebble beds are exposed stretching across to the South Gut but there is no bedrock to be seen alongside the channel down which the Taw and Torridge rivers finally reach the sea.

Then, one day while walking out to get exercise and enjoy the big skies, we were caught by a violent storm far out on the beach, saw colour sapped out to gun-metal grey, rearranged. The soaking was worth it, the post-storm brilliance quite singular. At my feet I found the theme of this place for me, which is how these pebbles lie in the sand. Almost every time I go there (in winter, when the north light really works) I find another aspect of these beds, another expression of the land sea sky interface. I can make or miss an image here in seconds.

It is often time itself that is the hardest dimension to handle because things can happen in an instant. I saw this stone receive its crown of foam from a retreating breaker. Within seconds the crown had disappeared for ever. Unremarkable maybe, and repeated again and again up and down the pebble bank, but never again at that precise moment, lit that way, with me hanging over it to record it. I took another, similar, I took lots, but never quite saw this again. I missed better ones, just as I miss them every day it is happening and I am not there.

Another visit, when a walk on to the South Gut sands was to blow away after affects of new year celebration, clear cold sunlight on sand infrequently exposed by the tides revealed a number of wonderful pool-studded ridges and banks of wind and water-tempered sand.

There are long views, large sandstone pebble fields and even some wild fowl in winter on this strand. Big skies, long fetches . . . and rather a lot of dog walkers (but it is a big place) . . . and if one looks down as well as around, there is always something to like.
There's an album of my last visit here: Flickr joy of shape by northam