Well, it is to me anyway. It is called White Rock and is the left-unquarried remains of a limestone outcrop on the edge of the Duddon Estuary. I pass it often during my walks and usually give it a cursory glance as I do. But this morning a gentle tide was well in, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a wind to speak of so that the hundred metres or so of sand which comprises the beach at White Rock seemed very inviting. I actually longed to have my feet on the soft sand as I have done so many times in my younger days. So I did just that and it was delicious.
Little wavelets were lapping the edge of the sand pushing ashore tiny clumps of bright green seaweed. Not one bird call was to be heard – a stark contrast with the nesting seabird colony I had passed as I walked the sea wall. It was very, very peaceful, and as I stood there enjoying it all my mind traversed back over many years and I remembered wonderful adventure-full days I had spent at White Rock. The place has not in any way changed since then. How could sand and sea and rock change in a noticeable way? They change their positions and shape, but they still remain the same – sand, sea and rock. So adventure called again and my feet retraced my footsteps of days gone by to explore and find again the well-hidden secret places of White Rock.
In former days I scrambled headlong over the rocks without any thought of danger or falls. But these days I go more cautiously carefully choosing my steps among the broken rock and strewn boulders – the consequence of age, not wisdom.
But the hidden treasures are still there – not so hidden really. I found the watershoot – a tunnel carved over many, many years by rough winter tides – when pounding waves threw themselves against the soft limestone and carved first a channel and then a tunnel and then an opening through which these days spent waves burst free of the limestone to emerge, geyser-like – into the fresh air in a spume of water. When the tide was still well out I used to crawl and wriggle my way through the tunnel and emerge like a wave through the limestone vent into the fresh air, but not today – again a consequence of age, not wisdom.
The limestone is populated with a variety of fossils – the remains of sea creatures which lived millions of years ago. I have always been fascinated by these remnants of life-gone-by and today I marvelled at them once again as I scrambled over the rocks and gradually made my way back on to the sandy beach. Here I walked down to the water’s edge where tiny waves lapped gently and contentedly as my mind wandered back over the years refreshing the memories it carried of this beautiful place.
I recalled sitting on the white rock as I fished the night tide many years ago. It was a magical experience with millions of bright stars above me and a gentle breeze stirring the warm air. The dark waters below me were invisible in the all-pervading darkness of the night. Occasionally across the estuary car headlights could be seen following unseen roads, and I remembered wondering about the people driving the cars – who they were, where they were going, what they were thinking and so on. I don’t remember catching any fish that night. Catching fish didn’t seem very important. The night itself was sufficient to meet my need.
I dreamily recalled another occasion when James and I pegged out a set-line with one hundred baited hooks. It was a wild and wet night when we went back to retrieve our catch – one small dab which I think James had for his breakfast the next morning. But, once again, it was the experience and doing it which brought the satisfaction.
There were other memories of lying on this tiny beach in the warm sunshine while the little ones played safely and noisily at this same water’s edge. I had it all to myself today, but with the advent of summer other families would come and enjoy exactly the same things in exactly the same way, creating their own memories – and just as it had for the fossils and for me – life would go on Eventually I roused from my reverie and gradually retraced my steps to the path to continue my walk, thankful for how richly blessed I have been to have enjoyed so much in this beautiful place – my very special place.