2012: Friday Walks, A year on the Shining Shore

Well first of all it’s a Saturday isn’t it? On Friday it was raining sideways round here. And though we can and have walked in torrential rain we don’t actively go out looking and hoping for it. So we stayed dry in the house and got on with other non-work pursuits. It was still a Friday after all.

And today we’re returning to our meditative walk of the year, to do it once more, but also to look back on how much the lanes and the land and the shore change over the seasons.

But we start with an interlude. In nearby Royden Park we know there are miniature trains, but they’re not there on Fridays. In fact they’re usually Sundays only, but we know today they are doing an extra day. So we stop off and have a look.

Stoking the fire, filling up the water. A real miniature steam engine.

Stoking the fire, filling up the water. A real miniature steam engine.

Delighting the men and boys running them as much as the passengers.

Delighting the men and boys running them as much as the passengers.

We also have a look in the walled garden, which we haven’t found open before. This used to be the kitchen garden of Hill Bark, the adjacent fairy tale wedding hotel you’ve heard us complaining about, back when it was a nob-house.

Now gardened, beautifully, by adults with various learning challenges.

Now gardened, beautifully, by adults with various learning challenges.

Royden and Shining - 04

Watched over by Pan, the pagan Green Man.

Watched over by Pan, the pagan Green Man.

Our new favourite café, the ‘Barking Mad’ was also specially open. Usually its just Wednesday to Friday.

But sadly no time to stop today, due to the shortness of light.

But sadly no time to stop today, due to the shortness of light.

So, finally, we’re ready for the day’s walk.

Sarah fortifying herself with some of her favourite lemonade at the start.

Sarah fortifying herself with some of her favourite lemonade at the start.

Then we're off.

Then we’re off.

Hedgerows almost bare now, just some berries left.

Hedgerows almost bare now, just some poisonous frost-wilted black briony berries left.

Compared to this abundance back in September.

Compared to this abundance back in September.

Round in Thurstaston church-yard today, Sarah looks at the yew.

Round in Thurstaston, St Bartholomew’s church-yard today, Sarah looks at the yew.

Remembering shaking the clouds of pollen from it back in March.

Remembering shaking the clouds of pollen from it back in March.

And photographing the snowdrops back at the beginning of February. They'll soon be round again.

And photographing the snowdrops back at the beginning of February. They’ll soon be round again.

Today again, lanes cut back and most things sleeping.

Today again, lanes cut back and most things sleeping.

Unlike the heady abundance of early June.

Unlike the heady abundance of early June.

And the woody Dungeon open to the sky now.

And the woody Dungeon open to the sky now.

Compared with the June days of canopy closure.

Compared with the June days of canopy closure.

Today, looking back at the winter tree.

Today, looking back at the winter tree.

And sideways at another winter tree, three weeks ago in November.

And sideways at another winter tree, three weeks ago in November.

And the stark winter hedgerow.

And the stark winter hedgerow of now.

12.04.13 Shining shore - 40

Which looked like this in mid-April.

Crossing boggy, sodden Heswall Fields today.

Crossing boggy, sodden Heswall Fields today.

Remembering it as a meadow of wildflowers in August.

Remembering it as a meadow of wildflowers in August.

At this point we stopped for a chilly lunch looking out over the estuary. Three o’clock now and the light beginning to go.

Down on the beach today.

Down on the beach today.

Where the wild, edible samphire was sprouting in June.

Where the wild, edible samphire was sprouting in June.

And Sarah and Gemma came to celebrate Gemma's birthday in July.

And Sarah and Gemma came to celebrate Gemma’s birthday in July.

Much, much colder than that today.

Much, much colder than that today.

Serious and very recent erosion to the sandstone cliffs.

Serious and very recent erosion to the water sodden sandstone cliffs. So wet inside now they’ve changed colour.

The same cliff on a sunny day in April.

The same cliff in drier times, on a sunny day in April.

And magnificent today...

And magnificent today…

As it was in August...

As it was in August…

And the murmuration of November...

And the murmuration of November…

The Dee Estuary.

The Dee Estuary.

And the new moon of the long night shines down on us today.

Where the new Moon of the Long Night shines down on us today.

We may yet be back to the Dee Estuary during 2012, but this will be our final walk around the Shining Shore at Thurstaston this year. And perfect it has been, to quietly observe one small area of land and littoral so closely through all of the seasons.

Mostly the place is at peace of course. Sleeping now as part of the natural cycle of life and death. But we are worried about the cliffs and the whole of the hillside behind them. Wetter than we’ve known them in all the several years we’ve been coming here. So sodden that the cliffs have changed colour, and are running with new streams. The whole hillside feeling so wet and oozing that it might be sliding into the estuary. We hope not. But we can only hope, watch and bear witness to this precious place, the Shining Shore. Thank you for having us.

So for anyone who’s counting, (Hello Sarah) that’s eleven times this walk’s been done this year, a couple of times as part of a longer walk. And never tired of for a second.

9 thoughts on “2012: Friday Walks, A year on the Shining Shore

  1. stan cotter

    It’s me again Ronnie, I didn’t know we had a miniature railway on our doorstep. I would love to go and see
    it, maybe in better weather and take the grandson with us.

    I used to live in Royden Street, Liverpool and often wondered where the name came from,so thanks for clearing that up for me.

    And I would like to take this opportunity to wish yourself and your good lady, Sarah, a very merry
    Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year. And hope you continue for many more walks that give so much pleasure to so many people.

    Best wishes, Stan

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      And thank you for all your contributions this year, Stan. The image of you belting down the long straight at Aintree at 120 mph with a terrified mate screaming at you to watch the road will stay with me for a long time!

      The trains at Royden usually run each Sunday (‘weather and staff permitting’ – whatever that means). So probably best to get in touch directly before setting out.

      Reply
      1. stan cotter

        Hi ‘cheethamlibMandy’ I am Stan Cotter and also read with great interest Ronnie’s stories, I love them.

        Regards the miniature railway in Royden Park, I thought you might like to know that there is also a miniature narrow gauge railway on the Isle of Man. Its only quite small and runs from Groudle Glen down to Sealion Cove. It was built by the Victorians to give people of the time access to the Cove, where they had a small zoo, that’s gone now.

        Like Royden Park it only runs on Sunday, is seasonal and is staffed entirely by volunteers. One to visit if you’re ever on the Isle of Man!

  2. lindsay53

    Beautiful, Ronnie and a lovely reminder of ‘the seasons they go round and round’. Interestingly, ‘littoral’ is the French word for coast and coastal areas. I didn’t know it was used in the English language too! An educative post to boot! X

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Yes, ‘littoral’ has long been one of Sarah’s favourite words. Much of her art and indeed out Friday Walks themselves focus on her fascination with coastal edgelands.

      And as for the language, well there was the small matter of the invasion of 1066. Before that the English used words like ‘dungeon’ meaning ‘marsh’ for edgelands. Indeed an area of this very walk is still known as ‘The Dungeon’

      Reply
  3. The Accidental Amazon

    What a lovely reflection on the changing seasons. Just what I needed right now. We’ve already had a teeny bit of snow here, but it was gone almost as soon as it landed on the still-warm earth. One of the advantages of our own littoral locale. xoxo

    Reply
  4. cheethamlibMandy

    I will never tire of seeing the Shining Shore so interesting to see the changing face of the landscape during the different seasons.This is a walk which I feel I know very well now, thank you so much for showing it to all of us “out there”. I liked the minature railway – there is one which runs every Sunday near where I live. I visited it often with a certain small boy and always marveled at the intricacies of the little engines,meticulously maintained by a band of elderly and not so elderly men – just like the ones you describe.

    Reply

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