The day had been forecast for rain, and so, given that, a few exhausting days before, and a backlog of writing and other work, I decided to have a day with no walking and lots of typing. However, by 2pm I found I had lots of writing under my belt and the promised rain was instead sunshine and blue skies, so I decided to add a few miles walking to the writing and set off on the 15:09 train to.
I spent a short while on the shopping street by the station as I needed to get lithium batteries for thetracker. I had been told that there was a large population and sure enough, amongst a relatively small number of shops was a grocer and off-licence. I’m not sure what brings the population here, perhaps cheap housing and easy access to for jobs. I recall my surprise some years ago, when I realised that the signs in were all in dual language: and .
is not new to immigrant population. During the potato famine, there were so many emigrées in that the area between railway and river was known as ‘ ‘ and became a no-go area, even in the , the only person who dared enter was the .
has a long industrial history, originally smelting lead ores from the hills above and then later the home of cesspit chemical industries that were deemed too dirty for . The air and sea were foul then, choking and alike. It seems that even in the , ‘s most difficult problems were exported to . The chemical industry continued, although with increasingly less filth, until closed its doors in the . So now is cleaner, but with no jobs and no prospects for the young.
Thetakes you past the castle, one of the ‘ castles, but destroyed by after the . The path then hugs the coast, sometimes along sea wall, sometimes areas where the bedrock is broken slag from age-old smelting. I am glad of the recent rain as I was told some of the earth here is so polluted the blown dust is noxious. In fact, the only time I smell noxious fumes, it turns out to be that I am passing a sewerage farm.
There are a number of inlets where small fishing boats lie tide-stranded on the grey mud. Some of these inlets were once major ports, shipping ores and passengers, but now silt-choked, tree-like channels cut across their soap-sheen surface.
I pass the odd dog walker, and see a group of youths heading across the salt marsh, carefully stepping over the channels. Remembering the things I’ve been told about, I am glad they are not on the path, and I notice myself taking photos half from the hip, so as not to flaunt the camera. The sense of paranoia distorts the most innocent of things and, as I see a man ahead taking his fishing rod from a case, I half imagine that it is a gun. Only, when I get closer I see that it is a gun, a powerful air-rifle, which he proceeds to fire across the marsh, I think aiming at birds. As I take photographs of the inlet, he looks at me suspiciously; I guess he does not have permission to use the gun in this way, so I do not take a photo of him, and move on my way.
After a short while beyond the business parks of ‘‘, the path heads along a sea wall, protecting the fields to landward, which lie well below the high tide level. On the ground are occasional pieces of almost jet-black rock, with a slightly metallic sheen, I assume discarded remains of old ore workings. The wall stretches out with the cranes of in the far distance, but between them and me, the object I had been looking forward to since the first train journey to on Sunday, one of the modern wonders of , urban art in the middle of nowhere, the , a large ship stranded on the mud, its sides covered in Graffiti, a blue Transformer bursting out of its starboard side.
on the train on Sunday said that it had been washed ashore after drifting and threatening the and railway. However, when I popped into the (another ‘ ‘), to wait for the bus, I found that in fact he had been conflating two stories. The has been there since and at one stage was going to be turned into a casino; the ship that had been adrift was one carrying parts from .
After getting the bus back to, I just catch the train, and on the way back, over off the north-east tip of , the sun shines through jellyfish tentacles of rainfall.