We spent the day before the coming of the dark walking in our sacred place. The last day before turning the clocks back for the winter spent in the place that has sustained both of us through some of the hardest times of our lives.
‘The Shining Shore’ on the Dee Estuary is both the name of the beach at Thurstaston and the name of this walk we do and have done for many years now. First walked when Sarah was recovering from her cancer diagnosis and treatment in the the years after 2007 and sometimes walked when one or both of us barely had the energy to do so. The land always seemed to send us away with more energy than we’d arrived with. And so it became our sacred place.
At times we’ve felt like we knew every leaf and tree of the place, and every rock in our passway. Looking forward to every season we’d examine and exclaim over what was budding early this year and what seemed to be germinating further along a fieldside than we’d remembered.
We do this walk like a ritual, a ceremony. And though it started off being about the walking, the emerging from waiting and treatment rooms, it’s long moved beyond that, and for much of the walk now we’re hardly walking at all. We’re looking and touching and paying attention. Breathing in the time and slowing it right down. So often surprised when it’s taken us hours to go hardly anywhere.
We think the length of it is only about four miles anyway. There are longer versions we’ve done. Up onto Thurstaston Common or along to Caldy. But mostly we don’t. What we mean by ‘The Shining Shore’ we could walk in our dreams. This is our church, our hymn to nature.
And this is us two walking it today, the day before turning the clocks back. We’re both taking the photographs as we walk, sometimes similar, sometimes off in our own thoughts with our own particular interests. I’ll be looking at churches, angels and what’s left of the climate-changed boulder clay cliffs, while Sarah’s studying lichens, shells, sea urchins and the footprints of wading birds at the waterline. Coming together for autumnal dieback footpaths, new growth in south facing hedgerows, lunch on the forest floor and just because.
As the light fades the long day closes, and the shorter days begin.
Walking on The Shining Shore, Saturday 27th October 2018.