Skip to content

A day at Berrow

June 9, 2013


Sunday 2nd June was one of those days when my longing for the sea becomes unbearable. Peter and the new bike took me to  the nearest source of solace. Here is Burnham-on-Sea Low Lighthouse, on Berrow Sands, 51° 14′ 54″ N, 3° 0′ 21″ W, built in 1832 and still in active service. The sinister block that is Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station, 25 miles up-wind of where we live, is just visible to the right of the lighthouse. I spent a lot of time and energy a quarter of a century ago taking my long-suffering little ones along to demonstrations, writing letters, confronting our suave patrician Tory MP, printing tee-shirts (“Hinkley C? No thanks!”, drawing of smiley sun-face) putting up posters (“If the Romans had used nuclear power, we would still be guarding their waste”, drawing of centurion with lance) and generally supporting the campaign against the building of a third reactor, Hinkley C. It didn’t get built in the 1980s, probably as a result of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, but memories are short and it looks a distinct possibility now that another little one, my first grandchild, is about to come into this abused and polluted world. And yes, I do realise that more humans equals more pollution. But how about photo-voltaic panels and small-scale turbines being mandatory on the roofs of all new buildings, and permitted on existing buildings? That and improved insulation would make a huge difference. We’ve learned not to mind TV aerials and satellite dishes cluttering the roof-line; we could learn to accept these too.


I love lighthouses. This diminutive one wears a withered, weathered Christmas wreath. At high tide its nine legs stand in the water.


We walked to Burnham, where a Punch and Judy show reminded me of that extraordinary novel Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.  I think it cured me for good of my spelling-pedantry. But I am still a pedant about apostrophe-abuse.

‘Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddels where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same. There aint that many sir prizes in life if you take noatis of every thing. Every time will have its happenings out and every place the same. Thats why I finely come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idear of us myt be. Thinking on that thing whats in us lorn and loan and oansome.’ Composed in an English which has never been spoken and laced with a storytelling tradition that predates the written word, RIDDLEY WALKER is the world waiting for us at the bitter end of the nuclear road. It is desolate, dangerous and harrowing, and a modern masterpiece.


In the background, donkey-rides. One riderless donkey set out on his own, turned round at the turning-place and trudged dutifully back to base.


At the other end of Berrow beach lie the ribs of a foundered ship

berrow 013

berrow 018

and cryptic messages are written in the sand.

berrow 011

berrow 009

The footpath back to the road took us over marram-stitched dunes, though a marsh rich with buckthorn, brambles and birch, and along the edge of a golf course. We heard a cuckoo calling persistently, and even caught sight of this elusive and now rather uncommon bird.





And all the way back to the pub, which is no longer open but still displays the same message reminding us that we are not here to enjoy ourselves.

berrow 029

You have been warned!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2013 5:41 pm

    Love the ‘writing on the sand’. My fave beach/place around there is Brean Down, complete with stiff climb up steps and Roman archaeology. And some rocks for kids to climb by the beach, and handy cafe. It’s a pain having to drive past all the holiday parks to get there though.


  1. 80: From a Lighthouse to a Design Binding. | Almofate's Likes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: