A quiet life #2: an autumn beach at sunrise, Budleigh Salterton, Devon

In the first proper post in this little series of diversions from the news, I wanted to look at one of my favourite places. I’ve chosen the beach at Budleigh Salterton in East Devon. Its gently curving, shelved pebble beach is framed by the western side of Lyme Bay, protecting Budleigh from the worst of the prevailing weather. It’s somewhere I find real sense of peace and solitude, a truly quiet space. Going back to my journal from a trip there in October 2018 I found that one morning I’d written a few paragraphs about how I felt being on the beach first thing in the morning. It had a kind of immediacy to it, and I had some pictures I could use which I must have taken at the time, so here it is, very short and pretty much exactly as I wrote it:

An autumn beach at sunrise

I stand at the water’s edge, the pebbles too damp to sit on, staring out to sea. There’s a chill in the air, and I’m glad I have a warm coffee cup to wrap my hands around. It’s misty to the east, the beach gently disappearing into the nothing, the cliff at Otter Head rising above behind. Somewhere out in the mist I can hear the hum of a boat’s engine but I can’t see it.

The water, barely moving, is just a gentle swell, small waves coming in every few seconds, the pebbles chattering as the waves pull back out to sea. A guillemot sits bobbing on the water. Raising its head, it dives away, surfacing again with a small fish in its beak. No-one else sees it, I’m the only person here.

Wandering down the beach to the west, it crunches in a satisfying kind of way, the shelving, pebbly slopes move around beneath me as I head towards the water. The cliffs behind shine a stark, vivid orange in the late autumn sunlight, bands of pebbles trapped in the rock. I realise these are a beach-in-waiting, slowly eroding away.

I find the remains of a fire pit nearby, neatly enclosed by a circle of large pebbles, a relic from a warm summer evening. The cold’s getting into me now, though, and it’s time to head home.

I’ve written a few other posts about this part of Devon. Why not have a look at:

Swimming in the Sea

Hidden stories: the amazing life of a Budleigh Salterton pebble

Walking the Exe estuary trail, Devon

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