I went for a lovely walk yesterday by the sea. It was a bright autumnal day and all seemed very pleasant. I could see the next town from the top of a hill and thought that it would not take too long to reach it along the coast path. Except that the National Coast Path is no such thing. Beware acorn symbols if you trying to get anywhere quickly. The coastal path was diverted due to some sad caravans who wanted the sea view without the distraction of unsightly walkers spoiling it. Then there was the £1000 fine threat if I did not close the gate after crossing the railway. It amazes me that so many country paths send us across a working railway line, and yet I was threatened with a £600 fine if I crossed to catch the train that was standing on the opposite side of the road but which I couldn’t reach due to faulty level crossing barriers. Neither the police nor the rail company would give permission to cross for fear I would injure my dear little legs and sue them, even though it was originally a designated pedestrian crossing. So I had to miss my train and wait an hour. That was 3 years ago and I’m still cross.
I decided to ignore the acorn signs and pick my own way – sadly without sight of the sea – towards my destination as directly as I could. (Checking a map later showed me that this hunch was completely right and the acorn walk is distinctly inland and meandering). I did find an opportunity to rejoin the cliffs, only once again to be confronted by more rows of dull white caravans, and a sign saying: the Permissive Path is closed due to coastal erosion – and we’re not going to let you across our precious holiday park. Sorry for the inconvenience.
And that was the end of the sign. No map, no arrows – once again I had to use intuition to continue my journey and get there before dark fell. I have never been so glad to see a pier, knowing that I had at last arrived, having taken considerably longer than expected. I did not predict that I would need to scramble up a meter high bank to avoid the incoming tide and rejoin the promenade. (There is a ladder but this is only about a foot wide – skinny walkers only, then).
Before my walk, I had sat in a cafe and read in the newspaper how £8m has been spent on aggressively evicting squatters. And that we might have secret courts, should that elusive phrase ‘national security’ be deigned to suffer otherwise.
I thought, again – what a crazy country and world we live in. Our priorities are all about money, control, property, and we behave in ways that fly in opposition to our supposed own national values of open justice and supposed rule by the people. We nanny about safety and fence off the cliff tops with numerous signs; but the caravan park won’t shrink – the public have to get trapped and lost instead. So yes I enjoyed my walk, but what a shame that something as innocent and relaxing as some sea breeze and exercise still doesn’t let you escape the deeply imbalanced world we live in.