Highlight: Chesil Beach

Chesil footprints
Chesil footprints

“It is above all an elemental place, made of sea, shingle and sky, its dominant sound always that of waves on moving stone: from the great surf and pounding … of sou’westers, to the delicate laps and back-gurgling of the rare dead calm….”

This famous description of Chesil beach was written by the author John Fowles, who lived in Dorset. Standing upon the huge sweeping form of Chesil Beach it is hard to deny its power. The imposing scale of the shingle ridge stretching for miles along the coast and the raw interaction between rock and sea is humbling. In this place nature is king, and not the soft existence of living things, but the primal, hard forces that, given enough time, grind continents to dust and carve out the very fabric of our planet’s surface. These processes were there at the very beginning of the world’s oceans, over four billion years ago, and they continue until our dying sun boils the seas away in just over five billion years’ time. Chesil is less than 20,000 years old and will one day break apart – testament to how fleeting our landscapes are in the face of geological time. It is indeed an inspiring and elemental place, illuminating the forces and processes that underpin the natural world.