Alone with the Atlantic – Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Wales

For five nights I slept beside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. On the first, I woke before the night was up and walked with the stars over frosted grass and frozen puddles, and on the second I slept with the pounding drum of the rain upon my shelter. And so it went, from one peninsula to the next, weather on my face, beyond the whirling lighthouse of Strumble Head, the moorland ponies of Mynydd Morfa and the slatestone incisors of the Aberdinas Islands, not a another walker in sight for three days and three nights.

 

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Beauty without restraint – South West Coast Path, England

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Sandy Mouth, north Devon, England

We lit the fire with kindling and paper, then surrounded its flames with fragments of drift, their knots and heartwood damp from the rolling sea. With the heat warming our sides we lay upon the pebbles, the Atlantic in our ears, the stars in our eyes. It is times like these I will remember.

Later that night, on a headland above the swash, I unzipped my bivvy. The skies had clouded over and rain fell in thin sheets, blown left and right on the switching wind.

This is the South West Coast Path, peninsulas and valleys, time and time again, stars and rain, beauty without restrain.

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Sandy Mouth

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Sandy Mouth

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Welcombe, north Devon, England

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Welcombe, north Devon, England

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Hartland Point and the island of Lundy, north Devon, England

 

Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park, England

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Valley of Rocks, Exmoor National Park, England (Jake Graham Photography)

Up the eastern flank of the turreted ridge, we scrambled, without thought, for the moon. Yet, upon arrival, and far from lunar discovery, we fell once more in love with the Earth –  ocean before us, moorland behind, and a slab of rock, strong and definite,  beneath our feet.

Waves on a shingle beach

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Waves on a shingle beach, oil on board (Daniel Graham)

I sat, within my subconscious, on that shingle beach. It was late summer and the night was warm, yet over to the east a windstorm was brewing, its peripheral gusts pushing seawater onto my cheeks. I picked up a pebble and threw it towards the ocean, losing sight of its mass long before it reached the waves. Then, in a moment of brilliance, a bowler rose before me, larger than any that night, just as the moon’s half-light broke through the density of the squall. What magic, I thought, though I knew this to be a fallacy; for all one must do to see such glory is open their eyes.