We came towards the coast, looking for somewhere to spend a week before we meet up with Yvonne to visit the bison reintroduction project. At first, we headed to another nature campsite. But when we got there, it didn’t feel as open and welcoming as the others. After spending a night there, we felt a bit sad about the place and decided to move on the following morning.
So the next day we set off towards the dunes, battling a fierce headwind but only for a short ride of 15 km. We arrived at the recommended campsite and set up camp – in a howling gale! That evening, once we’d had lunch and done the shopping, we went for a pre-dinner stroll. We set out into the dunes behind the campsite, past a lake where some young geese were gathered, between the dunes, beside a small area of planted woodland and out onto the beach. As we crested the dune and got a view of the sea, the full force of the wind hit us and teated us to a facial sand-blasting. Giggling and squinting, jackets flailing, we ran down the dune towards the sea, ditched our sandals and ran into the waves.
This place feels like the wildest place we’ve been to. Not because it has the most exciting wildlife (don’t think so) or the fewest people (certainly not) or the least intensive management scheme (no way). It feels wild because of the exposure. Gone is the safety of the forest. No shade, no shelter, no respite from the elements. The dunes are a barren-looking landscape – sharp grasses and salt-tolerant shrubs holding the sand loosely together.
This place feels wild because of the salt, the sand, the sun, the rain and the wind. Oh, the wind, the furious wind! Reshaping the dunes and causing every plant and animal in its way to bend to its will.
One evening walk and we were starting to feel better already.
We had a slightly sleepless night in our wind-battered tent. And today, we had to go back into town for more supplies and the laundrette. Then, lunch and chores done, we headed back to the beach to check out surf board hire options. We signed up for a surfing lesson tomorrow then hired wetsuits to go for a swim. Before we went in, we were feeling a bit tired and lacklustre. But a salt water wave to the face soon sorted that out!
The waves here aren’t particularly high, but they are strong. And the longshore current is so strong that you can’t stand still in any one place at all! So we walked up-shore, waded our way out to the good waves and body surfed in the waves as we got carried down-shore, where we’d get out and walk back up again.
Paddle paddle paddle, sploosh! Wave after wave of cleaning salt water, bringing us back to life.
There’s a poem ‘On the Sea‘ by John Keats… he doesn’t go in the water, but it talks about the freedom that can be found in nature and I think it’s rather beautiful.
It keeps eternal whisperings around
Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
Gluts twice ten thousand caverns, till the spell
Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
That scarcely will the very smallest shell
Be moved for days from where it sometime fell,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound.
O ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
O ye! whose ears are dinn’d with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody, –
Sit ye near some old cavern’s mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!