Do you ever feel irresistibly drawn to the raw, wild beauty of Nature?
While this morning broke with the sound of a deep silence, yesterday Storm Imogen arrived with a roar as she battered the shores of England’s south west. Emergency services asked people to stay at home, but I like many others was drawn to her beauty and wrath, as her giant pounding waves crashed onto cliffs and beaches and into harbours and coves.
Bezel and I arrived at Bossington’s car park and made our way up the wooded path alongside the rushing torrent of Horner Water. Nearby, a partially flooded field had become an oasis for dozens of white seabirds and gulls along with one lone hen pheasant, who without her waders, paraded the grassy boundary with an air of importance.
We headed for Hurlestone Point; a rocky, rugged ridge that sweeps down from Bossington Hill. As it descends, it tapers to a head, where the promontory juts dramatically out into the Severn Sea. From a seagull’s airborne perspective, the head belongs to that of a sleeping dragon. Sheer cliff sides are it’s bony cheeks while a dark, cavernous through-cave arches into the giant’s dark nostrils.
At the edge of the woods, the unexpected weight of the wooden gate takes me by surprise, and I push back with force meeting almost equal resistance until I hear a satisfying ‘click’. Heading up into the combe, the rushing wind in my ears suddenly stops and for a moment I seem to walk into the heart of silence.
And then I heard it. A deep thunderous roar coming from the chasm far below and I knew that Imogen had awoken the dragon. The ground itself seemed to shudder with a terrible thrill. Wave after giant wave rolled and crashed, frothing and churning onto the margins of this land, while across the bay Imogen’s colossal shadow moved ever closer, swallowing sea and sky.
Thoughts of descending the steep fisherman’s path quickly vanished and we hasten up the ridge heading to the abandoned Coastguard building. The higher we get the more exposed we become until finally, struggling up the last few steps we emerge into the face of the storm.
Far below and yet it seems within touching distance, huge grey waves roll in on all three sides. Looking down the dragon’s nose, the ground seems to sway and momentarily queasy, I’m reminded of a pitching ferry on rough seas. Staggering to keep balance I’m thankful for the railings at the edge and look up. The wind is too fierce to reach the shelter of the old building. Day has turned into the blackness of night. Imogen is upon us and horizontal rain lashes, cold and stinging. The onslaught is too much and looking at Bezel – he agrees, it’s time to turn back.
Smiling with relief, he skips down the steps and I turn to follow. But the storm has other plans and pushes me roughly backwards. I stagger to stay on my feet and gritting my teeth, turn again – this time more prepared. With my left hand firmly holding down my hat, the other grapples with the wet steel rail and I struggle to get a grip until slowly, slowly and step by step I fight my way down.
Eventually, after less than a dozen steps and only when he sees me release the handrail does Bezel lead the way. Eagerly his walk turns into a trot – until laughing and running down the path we arrive, breathless, dishevelled and half soaked to the shelter of the woods below.
From there on, we meet an upward stream of unruffled, kindred spirits – all of whom it seems, are also eager to face the raw, wild beauty of Storm Imogen.