In the summer I like to take the small chain ferry across to Studland beach from Sandbanks in Dorset. If I catch the first crossing of the day I’m sometimes the only passenger and the only walker on the beach. 3 miles of curving sand is punctuated at the end by Old Harry Rocks. It’s a little piece of heaven on earth.
The groaning chain ferry drags itself across the harbour and releases me onto the deserted beach road. Cars disappear, heading for desk jobs at the start of a sweltering day.
Pausing at the sea’s edge, waves suck cold salty sand from under my feet, seaweed slithers fish-like between my toes as a breeze holding far-away storms licks my skin dry.
The barren beach, fringed by green spiky Marram grass, stretches its hand towards the chalk stacks apostrophising the end of the bay.
Common terns scream, living up to their sea-swallow name. Black-tipped tangerine beaks dipping the water, nodding their coal-capped heads to the sea.
On the horizon a dark bank of cloud drapes over the dawn, outlined in silver and red; it waits for the sun to haul herself into a new neon sky.
No shoes. One of the pleasures of beach walking. The push-and-pull tempo of a billion shattered shells pace my steps.
Sand plateaus roll.
Storm gullies and banks hold water captive away from the sea.
I dance more than walk over uneven terrain.