Wandering alone on beaches in Cornwall in the winter, and secluded beaches no one knows about in summer, I have always wondered what people who lie and sit on beaches squashed together until you can’t see much sand, get out of it. The old explanation given me by people is that if you don’t take what you can get, you don’t experience anything. Better to be on a crowded beach than not to be on the beach at all.

I also think they are more used to crowds and people being close than we are in the countryside. If four cars go down our hill in a row it is a busy period. But I have to say crowds are not beautiful things. A beach that is heaving with people is a ruined beach. With them come huge car parks where once there were play areas. On beach fronts where once birds sat on rocks and walks across the cliffs started, there are public toilets, and fishing villages are filled with cheap shops catering to plastic expectations.

Dogs are forbidden on most beaches – something wholly unnatural – and children who used to run free across rocks and sand are confined to where their parents can see them because of course, where there are a lot of people there may be some dangerous people. And when they leave litter stays behind them to be swept into the ocean by the incoming tides.

There is an immense beauty in open space which too many people never see and have forgotten to look for.

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February 2019
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