Tag Archives: sand

On the descent into Walvis Bay

Saturday 21st January 2023, 10.05am (day 4,167)

Near Walvis Bay, 21/1/23

Random African country, 2/2, although unlike Ethiopia, this one — Namibia — was on the original schedule. Walvis Bay is where the Johannesburg to St Helena flight stops to refuel. On the approach, over miles of utterly barren desert, it is inconceivable that there could, or should, be a town of over 60,000 people here, but it seems that Walvis Bay is the one natural harbour for hundreds of miles in either direction, and so is the principal port for the whole country, not to mention handling traffic for landlocked Botswana and Zimbabwe as well. What the construction visible on this shot is, I have no idea for sure, but it might be the top of an artesian well, as almost all the water supply for the town comes from underground.

That’s it for my 3-day perambulation around two continents, and six airports (Manchester, Geneva, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Walvis Bay and St Helena). Two weeks on St Helena will now follow.

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Walking on water

Saturday 7th May 2022, 11.05am (day 3,908)

Today I, and around 250 other people, walked from Arnside to Grange-over-Sands — an easy, flat walk of about 5.5 miles. The complication is that between these two places lies the northern reach of Morecambe Bay, the largest expanse of intertidal land in Great Britain. But in that also lay the fun of the day — the chance to (safely) get a couple of miles away from permanently dry land, into a space that is neither one thing nor the other, a limbo state between land and sea — with a healthy dose of sky, too.

I deliberately cranked up the contrast on this shot because I like the way that all the people look like dashes of paint descending from a horizon that is insubstantial but definitely there. As if we are trapped within a sheet of glass, aware of the heavens above us but unable to reach them.

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The dune sea, at sunset

Wednesday 1st December 2021, 4.45pm (day 3,751)

Dune sea, 1/12/21

The flight home. The Sahara looked astonishing: this was a day when I wish I could break my own rules and post more than one photo. The River Niger certainly was worth seeing, a braid of blue and green running through a sandy wasteland. We must have crossed that somewhere in Mali.

But instead I will go with this shot; for much of the three hours it took to cross the desert I was thinking, hmmm, well it’s certainly barren, but more rocky than sandy. But then came this sea, this ocean of dunes, tinged by the setting sun. This must be far enough north to be somewhere in Algeria. Not that national boundaries really mean a lot here. If anything this is Arrakis. Had a gigantic sandworm crested out of this stuff with Fremen on its back, I would not have been surprised.

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Desert fortress?

Wednesday 12th May 2021, 1.35pm (day 3,548)

Fortress rodblok, 12/5/21

Out in the harsh desert wastes of the Karakatarmakadam Mountains, the stark grey stonework of the Fortress of Rodblok stands astride the gravel flats, beside the dried-up river valley. Abandoned for centuries, the winter winds are now all that move through its lonely halls. No longer do pilgrims visit to pay homage to the great Red Icon embedded in its highest reaches.

Or, possibly, it’s a plastic object of some sort lying around in that roadbuilders’ yard on the way to Mytholmroyd. See it how you like.

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The entrance to Ainsdale Beach

Saturday 1st May 2021, 12.10pm (day 3,537)

Ainsdale Beach, 1/5/21

Ainsdale Beach is a voluminous expanse of golden sand: so voluminous, in fact, that like many other places on the same coast, north of Liverpool (see our trip to Crosby last November), the nearby land is gradually being taken over. The buildings you see here are derelict, not (this time) because of the Great Fear, but because of the encroachment of these dunes. This is an attractive place, but a melancholy one.

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Path no more

Sunday 15th November 2020, 12.40pm (day 3,370)

Crosby dunes, 15/11/20

As good an illustration of the encroachment of sand dunes as you could show to a geography class. That sign is of current design and cannot have been there all that long, but of the ‘shared path’ which it once indicated, there is now no other evidence at all.

The docks are those of Liverpool, by the way. Did I stay at home today? Nope.

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Sandscale Haws

Monday 27th July 2020, 2.45pm (day 3,259)

Sandscale Haws, 27/7/20

The beauty of Cumbria is not entirely found in its lakes and mountains. The coast is also very fine. After a terrible morning’s weather put the high country out of bounds, we got out anyway and Sandscale Haws, near Barrow, gave us something to enjoy as the weather cleared. Joe practices his ballet moves, it seems.

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The Kent estuary at Arnside

Saturday 16th November 2019, 11.55am (day 3,005)

Kent estuary, 16/11/19

Saturday, a day to chill out, and get out, and try to see the world at its best — or at least, certain localised bits of it. Arnside is a place that I have frequently admired from passing trains: they trundle over the estuary of the River Kent on a bridge that is behind me as I took this shot. Not long after this the tide came in with astonishing speed, you can literally see it moving up the sands; no wonder Morecambe Bay is so dangerous in that respect.

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Birds on the Kent estuary

Tuesday 13th August 2019, 8.50am (day 2,910)

Kent estuary, 13/8/19

Whatever the reason for the journey, travelling on the Cumbrian Coast rail line is always an aesthetic pleasure. If the windows of the carriage are clean, that’s even better.

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Aberdour beach and the Firth of Forth

Monday 7th May 2018, 12.25pm (day 2,447)

Aberdour beach, 7/5/18

A glorious — and three-day — weekend continues with the chance to spend a Monday relaxing with our friends in Aberdour and exploring its stellar beaches: this one, known (erroneously) as Black Sands is particularly fine. This weekend has reminded me why I should come to Scotland more often.

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