I took a walk along Minehead Seafront the other day. It was a wonderful golden autumn afternoon, with the sun washing the sandy beach, a brilliant blue sky, and the tide gently coming in. It was one of those wonderful moments in life and so this blog shares some of the happiness of that day, for others to enjoy, I hope.
Happy days at Minehead Beach
We all have those places which bring back happy memories, and Minehead beach evokes many good days for me. We used to swim at there as children on warm summer days, and at Blue Anchor nearby. I taught myself to swim there (or doggy-paddle!), we made sand-castles, and, yes, there were donkeys on the beach too. Later, I rode down there on my motor-bike for a fabulous summer night swim with my excellent friend, Chris Babbage. More recently, my son Mikey organised a fantastic fishing trip off the harbour, which my husband Bryan went on too. Another son found a Pokemon at the end of Minehead Harbour! Nowadays, you can also hire paddle and body boards from the adventure centre on the seafront. I hope to find the chance to enjoy that one year soon!
A Changing Landscape
Yet despite the image of sun and sand, it’s not like that all the time. Minehead Beach can look completely contrasting on different days. One day the sun will sparkle on a high tide, the next day clouds and gulls will be gathering over the grey silt that stretches for miles into the Bristol Channel. Or, in winter, the wind will whip up white horses on the waves as the tide hurtles landward.
Much of this difference comes down to the unique geographic conditions of the Bristol Channel, which has the second highest tidal range in the world, with up to nearly 50ft variance in tides, second only to the Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada. That means that most of the time the tide is out, and you’ll have a very different experience at low tide on a February afternoon than hightide in July.
A word of warning: for all its beauty, we must all be careful with the tides! It is not uncommon for people to get caught out by the tidal range. You must stay close to the shore – my father used to warn us about the sinking sand further out, and even now people are sometimes rescued by the emergency services.
Discovering a hidden corner
So, my walk took me to a corner which is often missed by a casual stroll along the promenade. You can walk to Dunster Beach through the sand banks, past the golf links, and get far-reaching views across to South Wales, as well as over to Blue Anchor and up to Hinkley Point.
It’s up at the far end near the golf-course. I parked in the public car park near the golf links, walked down to the beach, spotted the incoming tide washing over the jetty, then struck out east towards Dunster. Straight away I was uplifted by fabulous views of the sand, across the golf links, and the incoming tide. On a mild, still, sunny day like this, it couldn’t be better.
The jetty stood out clear and uncompromising against the backdrop of the sky, sea and the distant view of Welsh coast across the Bristol Channel. The waves washed over the floor of the jetty one after another, with further ripples scurrying and tumbling along both sides as the tide moved forward. Why is an incoming tide such a thrill?! The wet surface also created a striking reflection of the mast against the blue sky.
A path towards Dunster Beach through the sand and marran grass made a striking image catching the afternoon sun, with the extra glimpses of the Quantock Hills in the distance, and the shade a symbol of the oncoming winter.
The grass was a truly rich and verdant shade of green following recent rains. And here was one man, stage-right, off to play his round of golf with three interested onlookers lined up evenly on the left. In the distance you look up the Quantock Hills.
It was just brilliant to be on the beach on such a special afternoon. I did this walk in just a few minutes from the car park, so it’s easy to do. Sometimes, it is easy to forget the beauty of the countryside, and Somerset is blessed to have some of the most fantastic scenery!
So, if you are reading this blog, I hope it inspires you to take a journey out there and to enjoy the world in all its beauty. Let me know what you find!