Sunday, February 07, 2010

'Micro' at Holy Island, part 4

DCA Boats

Lunch, a Welcome Nap and Action

A picnic lunch was in order. I found a niche in the lee behind a ridge of sand, and I tucked into salad sandwiches. The wind whistled through long dune grasses, and near my feet a line of black ants made their way through what for them must have been a gigantic forest. It was as though each creature was being guided by an in-built compass, but I suspect they were keeping a course relative to the direction of the sun. Contentedly, I lay on my back, and closed my eyes in slumber.

Waking all of a sudden, I realized it was time to be on my way. It took willpower to articulate my limbs, since they were somewhat stiff and my toes felt red-hot, because of the unaccustomed demands that had been placed upon them. How old was I? Surely I ought to have had more spring in my step? There was another four miles to go before arriving back at 'Micro'. At least, the wind would be in my favour, and I would no longer need to shield my eyes from the stinging airborne sand.

I could hear a diesel train to the southwest, but I could not see it. A clutch of vehicles were speeding over the causeway before proceeding along the road where I was walking. As they passed me I had to take evasive action by trudging through mud beside the narrow, pockmarked road. Another car approached, and I recognized a familiar dinghy behind it - that of George Saffrey. I waved him down. It was good to meet him again. There would be a DCA rally after all! He offered me a lift, but I resisted the strong temptation, as I was determined to complete my trek on foot around the Island.

His car became a dot in the far distance, and I observed there was an elderly couple marching behind me. Soon they drew alongside, and after we exchanged a few words, they strode ahead. I was amazed at their energy and the speed at which they marched under the baking sun. In passing they told me they were walkers seeking temporary accommodation on Holy Island. I felt relieved that I did not have to compete with them, and that I could amble along at my own pace, while enjoying every moment. Over the mudflats, black-headed gulls twisted and turned in the air while they screeched and squawked at one another. At the edge of the dunes, colourful butterflies fluttered in the wind. Caravans where nestled together at a small car park, and the laughter of children gave me delight.

Not quite so easy

Those few remaining miles seemed to take but moments, and before I realized it, I was on the outskirts of the village, but by continuing along the road I would not have achieved my objective of walking around the entire perimeter of the Island. Therefore I took the more difficult route by picking my way over a rock-strewn beach and by clambering on earthworks that were, in fact, a huge rabbit warren, full of burrows designed to trip intruders like me. The last few hundred yards were impassable because of jagged rocks and an eroding cliff. I conceded that I could not fully complete what I had set out to do, and I found a footpath that led to the village.

Priory Ruins

Delights of the Village

While exploring the hamlet I discovered St Mary's church. Although it had an historic connection with the ancient Abbey it was not in itself architecturally pleasing to me. The Abbey ruins, or more correctly, the 11th century Priory ruins, were fascinating with their Norman arches, multiple pillars, and solid red sandstone walls. This fine example of Norman English architecture was built by Benedictine monks from Whitby. I continued to the old Coastguard Station that was no longer operative, but from its commanding position I was able to see the entire expanse of the bay, including Guile Point to the south, with its distinctive obelisks. A beautiful red yacht lay at anchor in the pool immediately below the cliff.

My return

From there I finally made my way back to 'Micro' where other DCA members had gathered. I introduced myself to Tim Roberts who had a Leisure 23, and Chris and Doug who had a Wanderer dinghy. The duo had booked shore-based accommodation, with the intention of day sailing. Liz Baker and Len Wingfield arrived in their boats after visiting the Farne Islands and spending an anxious night there because of the strong wind. Other DCA members arrived with their camper vans. That evening a number of them went to the Ship Inn for a meal, but I preferred my own curry and rice. Later I joined the party before being ferried to my boat which was anchored off the beach.

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