Yesterday we walked along the South West Coast Path, the one that goes along the Bristol Channel Somerset shore from Minehead to Steart joining the River Parrett Trail. It passes Hinkley Point, only now it is diverted round the power station site and no longer goes along the sea wall. There is no physical need for the closure of the sea wall path, the planned developments don’t encroach. No doubt the ‘security’ argument won the day and the path was closed; will it ever re-open?
We picked up the path at Lilstock and walked eastbound above the crumbling cliffs with a spring tide ebbing to reveal great patterns in the geology of the seabed. In the sun-drenched weather of the past ten days the wild autumn harvest has ripened into a bumper crop amongst the brambles and scrub that cling to the cliffs along much of the path. A huge blackberry crop is joined by sloes and what must be wild damsons – or are they all the same wild plums? Rosehips in thousands hang in the trees, while a herd of young heifers munch their progress through the tough sea-border meadow. A powerful tractor pulled a cultivator across a field, the stones clattering its metalwork before another tractor followed to spread lime. No doubt the lime was brought from miles away? Embedded under the cliff below us the remains of once working lime kilns are still to be found with evidence of a stone-laid track-way through the rough shingle down to the sea for the lime to be carted and loaded onto the working ketches that sailed in their hundreds along the Bristol Channel shores in past centuries.
Our glimpse over the barrier into the nuclear site, wanting to see what progress the Franco-Chinese developers of the power station are making, must have been observed on CCTV as a patrol car soon made its appearance on the other side of the boundary. A Hungarian border style fence seals off the site, yet a flickering butterfly danced over the summer grass weaving its passage through the fence and back oblivious of the things happening in its short-lived world.
We turned and retraced our walk, pausing a while on the cliff top to watch two migrant white egrets feeding long-legged across low-tide-revealed pools. Before moving on we scrumped a handful of sun-ripened blackberries to savour their fruitfulness and speed our way home.