Dunwich Heath and Beach

10/9/2016 I think I should start making more decisions based on location. A first meeting with an accountant in Knodishall, near Aldeburgh, was not, shall we say, top of my list of things to get excited about. However, it did have the advantage of giving me a perfect excuse for a day, or at least afternoon, out on the coast. I was exceptionally lucky: the promised warm, sunny day turned out to be a gloriously hot one, and after surviving the dull pain of an only-just-comprehensible discussion about tax returns in an office with no opening windows (but far better views at least than the average office), I headed to Dunwich Heath with half a hope of catching the heather still in flower. I feared I might be too late, but I need not have worried. It was probably just past its best but still more than good enough for me.



Heather Birch

I enjoyed the cooler birch and oak woodland in and around the wetlands at the bottom of the hill as much as the heather and gorse, with its bright greens, golds and silvers.

My circuit was extended by at least an hour by frequent photography stops. I have not been on too many walks recently accompanied by this activity, due to my ambivalence about whether it is a waste of an experience or whether it enhances my appreciation of a place. Sometimes one, sometimes the other, I think, but my ambivalence overlooks another dimension which is half independent of place- or walk-appreciation: sometimes it simply feels good to be looking for shapes and light and colour and to be making, creating.

After completing my walk, I turned in the direction of the beach, intending to wander, read, watch, smell and listen to the sea. I also wondered whether perhaps on this of all beautiful days I might finally manage to brave the North Sea, which I had not done since I was a child (and I don’t actually remember swimming in it then; I only assume I must have), being as I am a wimp in cold water and the sea. Put both together, and the result is almost always all but my feet staying dry, so I knew better than to deceive myself I was going to the beach to swim.

Despite the beautiful weather, with children now back at school only a short walk was required to find a stretch of empty beach in front of the sandy cliffs. The sand martins’ nesting holes in the cliffs were long deserted, and my heart sank slightly at the reminder. But it was impossible to grieve for long: the sea was calm, blue and clear – none of which qualities I usually associate with the North Sea – and I was overheated: the perfect combination of ingredients to end our estrangement.

It was a great and thorough swim. I had the weather to thank, but also my recent regular swims in the reservoir, which, at least on a day like this, is quite possibly colder than the sea.

Perhaps I should not give up on the impossible: I might one day start to get excited about tax return meetings!

Dunwich beach

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