• Kay

Day 81 On the beach again

Sunday 29 December

Fordell to Santoft Forest

Start 7.50am

Finish 7.15pm (3 hour lunch break)

Distance 34km

Total 1,408km

Steps 54,680

Elevation: Sea level most of the way.

Weather: sunny and very windy

Today was a remarkable day. I felt excellent, body and mind. May have been the great sleep in the lovely B&B that I had, and a decent breakfast. The first 15km was road but passed quickly. A lovely lady pulled over at one point and gave me a moro bar, saying every time they saw a hiker they gave them a chocolate bar.

It was then a return to beach walking. A beach of black sand and absolutely covered in huge drift wood. There was also so much rubbish. Not just small stuff - but gas bottles, rusting whiteware, crates and the like. So incredibly sad.

There was a breeding colony of seagulls , with hundreds of them and their chicks. As I approached, great swaths of them them rose and squawked. The Bird movie came to mind with an involuntary shiver. I have never been a great one for horror movies.

Seagull colony with dozens of chicks

I had an estuary river to cross which is supposed to be done at low tide. Unfortunately my timing wasn't great with high tide at 12.45pm. However it ended up being a blessing in disguise. About a km before the river, in front of the seagull colony I found an excellent resting place, nestled in the dune grasses, out of the wind. I had tried a place on the leeward side of a large log, but quickly found myself covered in sand from the wind.

I had a leisurely lunch, listened to my book, practiced taking photos of the seagulls in flight, and watched the flightless baby seagulls trying to stand against the strong wind. My 3 hour break waiting for the tide to go out was blissful and rejuvenating and at 3pm I decided to see if the river was cross-able. In advance I had decided I would cross removing my shoes and leggings.

After being severely sandblasted on the way to the river edge the conundrum of clothed or unclothed for the crossing returned. Ultimately the thought of trying to put my leggings on wet legs as I was being sandblasted made up my mind. I simply put my beacon in my bra and my pack on my head, and plunged in fully clothed and completely unaware of how deep the river was going to be. It quickly reached my chest and just as I thought I would either have to float my pack and swim or turn back, it started to get shallower. There was only one little heart stopping moment when I appeared to have hit quick sand and sunk up to my ankles.

Ordinarily not an issue, but try then lifting your feet and not falling face first into the water when you have a pack on your head, a swift current and water up to your chest. I gave myself a high five after that crossing. For all those having palpitations about my safety the only real danger was to my dignity. It was only 4pm when I reached the other side so I knew everything would dry out as I continued along the beach. The combination of sun and the strong wind meant I dried very quickly.

I reached the 1,400km mark and actually remembered to take the obligatory photo. The sea was incredibly rough, and the wind never let up all day. I am camped in the pine forest protected from the wind although it is loud in the tree tops. I hope I remain protected as sand is not a great base to pitch a tent on. Only two of my tent pegs actually seem secure. The pine needles are however a lovely soft base. I didn't see any other hikers today. It may be that everyone else aimed for the early evening low tide for the crossing and are staying at the campground about 1km from there. I definitely enjoy the solitude.

Campsite night 81

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