Yesterday was quite an exciting time for me, as I led a group of 20 other people on an 8-mile ramble around the hills of Bath. It was the first time I’d led the walking group and I have many positives to take from the whole experience. I’ll tell you about it another time because today, I’m going to reflect back one week to another brief outdoor adventure, with the day booked off work.
I took a 30-minute journey south to Burnham-on-Sea and it was mainly for sentimental reasons that are too personal to disclose on this blog. It was the first time I’d visited the seaside-town since a school trip two-decades ago and I’d been curious about revisiting the area for sometime. My return bought back a few memories and more positives to take from the day away from home.
All of the photos here were taken with my Nikon S8200 camera but some have been ‘enhanced’ through the power of Instagram.
As a driver who strives to avoid parking charges wherever possible, I made my first stop at Apex Leisure Park, near Highbridge and to the south of the town. A friend of mine is very fond of this place and I’ve been meaning to see it for myself. I spent some time photographing the ducks and trying to capture shots across the lakes. It was a cloudy sky lurking overhead but the threat of rain never quite materialised on the day, in spite of some of the forecasts I had read over the weekend.
Burnham is a town renown for its seafront so that was always going to be my next stop. If not for my friend, I wouldn’t have known about Apex Park (well, without a thorough Google search on ‘what to see‘ in the area).
There’s a footpath leading away from the park and south(-ish), to where you’ll meet the River Brue, running east from Somerset and out to sea (I’ve cross this river several times before while heading south down the A37). If you turn right out of the park and beyond the boats, you’ll meet the estuary at Bridgwater Bay. Another right-turn and you’re following the coast alongside Burnham-on-Sea.
I made my way down the steps and on to the larger steps that follow the coastline. Burnham’s beach is well known as a hazardous place in low tides, where sinking mud has claimed the lives of many people over the years. I wasn’t really sure of what to look out for at this point so, I stuck to solid ground… Until I moved along a bit further and noticed kids and dog walkers alike walking close to the tide without any obvious concern.
Driving south down the A38 that morning, I had in mind an un-forgotten memory from that school trip in my early years. I’d convinced myself that I was sat beside a pier when I opened the lunch box I was given to discover EGG SANDWICHES!! It was one of the teacher’s lunches and thankfully, one of them was willing to swap so that I could have my grated cheese (and eat it). Of course, there is no pier in Burnham – a few miles north up the coast and you’ll find Weston’s Grand Pier (which, incidentally, I’ve not yet revisited since its restoration after a fire in 2008). All those years ago, I was sat by the jetty you can see above (if you were able to zoom in on that photo, you’d see the man in black is looking right at me, almost exactly where I recall sitting on that distant day). I presume the jetty is used to launch rescue craft for those who do find themselves in sinking mud and treacherous waters.
Further along and there is a Pavilion (still not as grand as Weston’s pier) with its own amusements arcade and a chance to grab an ice cream of seaside snack. If I hadn’t gorged on a plate full of sliced potatoes over the weekend, I’d have almost certainly stopped to sample their fish and chips. Maybe next time!
I felt it was worth capturing an image of the supporting structure beneath (I have some vague memory of climbing of walking through this on that same day as a young boy).
It was interesting to note that they do not allow dogs on this section of the beech because I couldn’t see any stated reason as to why. Each sign only seemed to threaten with the warning of a £500 fine for anyone caught in breach of this law. Maybe it’s because of the need to keep the jetty clear for access? I’ve never seen such signs at Weston and as you move further up towards Berrow, that law is suddenly relaxed. You also get a sight of two lighthouses. There’s a third one, much taller, located elsewhere in the town but I could not for the life of me spy it from the beech… I know it’s there because I’ve seen it from climbing other hills in Somerset.
Berrow brings back memories of playing football in my early teens. The Berrow Boys were a team run ironically by a butch, fire-breathing woman of a manager. One of many teams to claim three points from us in the local area with each encounter! Burnham and Berrow Gold Course is just the other side of the sand dunes (I hope the old guys didn’t spot me stopping for a wee…). That offers its own beauty with the overgrown, wild grass (I assume they don’t play in that part) but you can also spot Brent Knoll Hill. That’s another site I need to revisit soon. It’s only a short walk and climb and I fancy having a go at videoing the walk (I was going to do it on the same day, but for my own feelings of fatigue).
An interesting fact about this coastline is that, running from Burnham all the way up to Brean, it is the second-longest stretch of sand in the whole of Europe (I tried to explain this in a Keek on the day but the wind overpowered me)!
As I walked north along the Berrow stretch of the beech, I began to notice a sharp increase in the number of driftwood items that had been washed ashore. If only I hadn’t parked five miles away, I’d have taken a (bandsaw) bowl-turning blank for myself! It was also somewhere around luncthime, with the high sun beginning to break free from the clouds. A convenient bench emerged as thanks to a previous visitor (a “driftwood-worker”, not doubt) and this became an ideal place to take a break. I was also getting a bit tired of walking on the sand; moving further from my parking space with another six-miles or-so until Brean Down (I’ll revisit that another day). According to one website; had I gone on a bit further, I might have spotted the remains of an old ship-wreck, partially buried within the sand for decades. This sighting is dependant on a low tide but it adds to the cause for another visit some time.
After eating my lunch and sitting on the bench for a bit to contemplate, I decided to try and meditate. There was the feeling of a very gentle breeze but not many others passing by. In short, it was easy to give my mind that space and I think that merely walking along the sand had helped to prepare me. As I took my time, I also discovered a new ‘guidance’ for meditation by visualising the waves with each breath; in to the shore and out to see. All was going well until someone called out to their dog but, I had to get moving again some time or else I’d never get home!
On my return along the beach, I chose to be brave and to march on as close to the tide as I did dare (after all, I’d already spotted two fishermen sat close to the waves). I took in the sounds and the sights of each wave curling and rushing in to shore. Closer to Burnham, I encountered some treacherous mud that I decided to cross (while almost becoming stuck) but I’m not sure whether this was the stuff we are warned about.
I then climbed the steps up on to the pavement that evades the high tide and leads along past the town. It was a chance to glance inside the Pavilion as I walked past and I also noticed that they have public showers available as well. As a town, some of the shops in Burnham-on-Sea looked a little ‘out-dated’ as I glanced past their shop fronts from a distance. Maybe I’ll take a proper look around another time but I’ve seen stores in Weston with a similar appearance over a larger area.
As I returned to explore the remainder of the path around Apex Park, I felt a sense of sadness that my day was coming to an end and that I would soon have to face up to returning to work the very next day. Along with a sense of achievement, for having accomplished a small ambition I’d been holding on to for a while.
Thank you for reading. I don’t yet know where I’ll be going just yet and I only have a couple of photos to share from my walking leading adventure yesterday. For more images from Burnham and the surrounding area, please take a look at my Flickr set.
As a woodworker, I’ll simply add that writing a post about beaches and not beech is anything but easy so close to midnight!! 😉