Curse these amazing coastal landscapes! Curse these pleasant pubs! Curse these quiet beaches where we can sit for hours without seeing a soul! Just how are we supposed to walk round the entire coast of Britain when there is so much to enjoy on the way?
Today we clocked up just over 8 miles. Half of it was just walking to and fro enjoying a stretch of beach, or beachcombing, or investigating a cutting in a cliff which led to an amazingly picturesque nowhere.
We started our walk at Cliftonville bathing pool. Last week we had left it at low tide. Today the tide was in. The waves formed little white breakers above the submerged walls, faintly showing its outline. We rounded a small cliff to reach Palm Bay. The sand had been freshly raked by a tractor. Ours were the first footprints of the day. It was rich in colour and soft to walk on.
Turnstones and gulls scavenged amongst the rocks and seaweed that had been washed up in the surf.
At the far end of Palm Bay we picked up a wide sea wall and walked around Foreness Point. As we turned the corner our path was blocked by a water treatment station, built like a wartime fortress with concrete steps and spiked railings, poking out into the sea. We had to detour inland, walking up a cutting and following a clifftop path.
After a short walk we came to a shallow drop where we could clamber back down to the beach. Over the passage of time hundreds, perhaps thousands, of feet had worn a short gully into it, allowing us to scramble down to the sand below.
We were at Botany Bay; it was beautiful.
Almost as soon as we were down on the beach we heard the drone of an aircraft. A stunt plane flew in over the water treatment plant and treated us to an aerobatics display, looping-the-loop and barrel-rolling over and over again before eventually flying back the way it had come.
In the meantime, my son Ben had started beachcombing in earnest, and was soon joined by my daughter Cate. Having visited Shell Grotto last week, they had become determined to decorate our house in a similar fashion by lining all of our walls and ceilings with the remnants of dead crustaceans. Based on the estimated 153 million shells they will need to achieve this (not including our chicken coop), they clearly needed to get started. There seemed to be an abundance of crab shells on the beach today.
We spent a long time here. There was no-one else around; the beach was ours. Or, perhaps more accurately, we were the beach’s. In a world of material desire for tangible possessions we had all we needed and none of it belonged to us. But eventually, we knew we had to leave. As much as the beach was not ours to keep, so we were not the beach’s to keep either. We headed off to the other end of the bay.
At the eastern end of Botany Bay are two chalk stacks which have separated from the main headland. The chalk here is said to be some 300 metres thick. Only the top 40 metres or so is showing. I don’t know why, but as the waves rolled in the climactic scene of The Planet of the Apes sprang to mind.
The tide was still in when we arrived. Beyond the chalk stacks we came to a dead end. Most dead ends are disappointments – not this one.
We turned back and walked through the stacks, just about dodging the waves as they rolled through the gap. There was a cutting in the cliffs just to the left of us. We walked up, leaving beautiful Botany Bay to continue our walk.
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- Cliftonville Bathing Pool: N 51° 23.580 E 001° 24.250
- Palm Bay: N 51° 23.535 E 001° 24.750
- Water Treatment Station: N 51° 23.599 E 001° 25.533
- Scramble down to Botany Bay: N 51° 23.467 E 001° 25.782
- Chalk Stacks: N 51° 23.332 E 001° 26.212
- Dead End: N 51° 23.318 E 001° 26.210
Walk #33 Statistics (the entire walk from Cliftonville to Broadstairs, of which this post forms the first part):
- Date of Walk: 15 September 2012
- Walk #33 total distance covered: 8.02 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 259.98 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!