Strange by Nature
Touring on foot, walking 10-20 miles every day means spending a lot of time outside. As such, we’ve seen some great wildlife, which you can read about HERE in my week 1 blog, and which we can now add grass snake to, but also some great natural phenomena that are new to us.
In week one, it was blazing sunshine, we were still getting used to the weight of our bags, and finding in hard going walking in soft sand. We came to the next beach that the coast path follows and saw that, on the high tide line, there was a slick of seaweed. When we stepped onto it, the effect was extraordinary- it felt like a travelator, propelling us along the beach at what felt like inhuman speed! We’ve tried it again since and discovered that it only works on certain types of seaweed and sand consistency combinations, but it’s always a delight when it works.
Similarly, there have been some days where the bags have felt heavier than others, through fatigue or perhaps a rather ambitious haul at the local Premier. There was a time when we stopped in a bus shelter to pop to the shops/toilet down the road and the feeling of removing our bags that day was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Seth and I felt like we were floating, like helium balloons released from their tethers, like we were defying gravity and would float away. Great fun.
More recently, we were walking along the extraordinary expanse of Traeth Morfa Dyffryn, a several mile long stretch of dunes and beach, like something off the planet Arrakis. The wind was such that any little bit of stone or shell on the ground was sitting atop a plinth of sand, extending out behind it like the tail of a comet, a particulate shadow created by the item bracing itself into the fierce winds coming off the sea.
In that same beach there were small pools left behind by the sea as the tide went out. The wind blew small ripples across the surface, creating an illusion of depth, such that when I stepped in tentatively on the tip toes of my boots, I discovered it was a mere mm or so deep, despite appearing to be at least a couple of inches.
There have been a weirdly high number of dead shrews along the path. How did they die? Why are they there? Why have birds or foxes not swooped in? And this is obviously a common thing, because it was mentioned in the book reading we saw by a lady who had walked the coast path a decade ago.
And finally, I found something I had dreamed of, the ultimate iteration of my childhood favourite fruit, only produced by very particular circumstances. The blackberries on the coast path have had all summer to ripen, soaking up the season’s light to the point of plump sweetness, their tiny bobbles gently reflecting the light. Now the season is changing, harsh winds are whipping up the sea, creating fine spray that last week provided cooling relief to our faces on the clifftops at the head of the Llyn Peninsula, but now coats the fruit in a layer of salt that accentuates their flavour in that mysterious way that it does. It’s a beautiful thing, a meeting of spring, summer and autumn in one, a reminder of the changing seasons and a minute energy boost for the next few steps. If the physical enrichment they provide is negligible, the effect on the soul is higher than it has any right to be.