25 December 2015

shortest day

I arrive on this favourite shoreline in rapidly deteriorating weather after struggling into full wet-weather clothing and shoving my camera into a plastic bag. I am delighted that the beach is completely deserted and no figures are to be seen on the cliff path above; just a peregrine perches on a post for a moment at the entrance to the shore. It remains my exclusive coastal strip throughout my visit on this the shortest daylight day of the year. This is a satisfaction in itself: the place is mine one day in history and I rather like that. I have had the privilege here before…

It is good to review this incredibly varied stretch of coastline in really wet weather. My original intention to stride south along the sands is not possible as the south-westerly is holding the sea inshore, driving the tide in early. Instead I make it over the cliff base rockery to the place I call the paddling pool.

Rain full in my face, over glistening boulders and ridges. I find some respite from the driving rain in the lee of a cliff spur. From there I watch the waterfalls that drop over the back wall of the beach change from silver to ochre-charged cascades, those streams that the wind allows to get over the cliff lip at all. Some rock splinter from the cliff wall is shedding too so a wide berth is advisable for the return. No chance to shelter enough to eat a lunch. Reduced opportunities to do much with the camera too.

The sea becomes more frantic, shedding increasing drifts of spume, tide racing in hours before the tables say it is due. I make my return with a wary eye on the narrowing shore but still with time to pause, trying to make an image that captures the place and the day.

I have about three hours of it, keeping mostly dry. I leave by mid afternoon as the daylight is ebbing.

There is an album of pictures on Flickr:  shortest day . . .