I was just stepping out the shower this morning when my friend Kate rang. “We are going for a walk, would you like to join us?”. After debating with her as to whether my energy and fitness levels would be sufficient – I’ve been on their “walks” before – we agreed that I would join them and if it got too much I would return to the pub with a newspaper and wait for them.
Despite the horrendous weather we have had this last week, and the incessant wave after wave of wind and rain since Christmas, today was one of those days rarely seen at the moment. The sky was a glorious blue, without a cloud in the sky and the sun was really quite warm. We parked in the pub car park, after all we were going to be customers after the walk, donned our wellies and headed off down towards the sea.
The bridle paths took some negotiation, as you can imagine, there were deep furrows of slippery mud and water which we stepped over, around and in some cases, in. No surprise really considering the amount of rain that has come down, and the ever rising water table now making its presence known on the land. However, we mustn’t complain it is nowhere near as bad as the Somerset Levels, the areas of the River Severn and the River Thames which have burst their banks and flooded many hundreds of houses.
We arrived at the sea in Goring which was extremely busy, full of people and their dogs all making the most of the break in the weather. The sea was still slightly rough although nothing like the raging sea as it has been. The sun was glistenning on the horizen and the swoosh of the gravel as the each wave ebbed was loud and lovely.
You could see where the sea had swept the shingle beyond the boundaries of the coast path and along the road edge there was a tide mark of seaweed and sea shells. Clearly the sea had come in some way during the height of the storms.
Walking along the edge of the tide, there was an abundance of flotsam and jetsam, including large pieces of ships rope, plastic containers and SEA COAL. No I had never heard of sea coal either, but there was a lot of it, and quite large lumps also, bigger than your head.
Just like when you were at school and went on a nature walk to learn new things, I learned all about Sea Coal – that is thanks to Google!
Sea Coal is coal that has been washed up on the beach, coming from coal seams in sea cliffs or underwater deposits. For centuries this coal was collected and used for cooking, heating and forging metals. In places where this coal occurred it could be a dependable source of fuel and there were professional sea-coal gatherers and small local industries existed to gather and sell the coal. It is a mineral coal, as distinct from other types of coal such as charcoal, with a distinct odour and very little ash.
It was considered superior to pit-coal, burning hotter and cleaner with less ash. The process of being washed in the ocean might serve as a natural cleaning and sorting process, with the best coal ending up on the beach.
I loved the piece of coal in the photo above, but sadly it was far too big to put in my pocket!
It was with great relief to get to the top of the road and see the pub and the half pint of cider went down exceedingly well after a walk that took just under an hour and half and I completed!
If you live near the sea what interesting things have you found on the beach after a storm?
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