Monday, 28 January 2013
9.2m isn't the highest this month (that went to 9.8m on the 12th) but the water will still suck at the sea-wall below Crook Farm. As I write the wind is southerly, so, coming off the shore, it leaves the estuary surface pretty flat. Which bodes well for the lovely insistant slurp of a unbullied high water. The waders disappear as the marsh submerges, so the bluring edge of grass and water is pretty much the only focal point. At a low-ish high water (a really low HW is around the 7.2m mark) much of the saltmarsh is still visible at the foot of the sea-wall, seemingly afloat from land, its true nature revealed. Even at low water (1.4m this afternoon) the marsh's sump holes are dark and sinister. And today there will be some grassheads visible where turf turns to shingle. Bouyant and surreal.
All very absorbing. And safe. The Environment Agency, after some persuasion, has agreed to protect the seawall this eastern side of the estuary for another 20 years (with the clock already having tocked for two years, we're down to 18). The other side of the estuary, Sunderland Point, has not been so ... what? Lucky? Argumentative? Economically viable? Whichever - they do not have agreement or financial aid to protect their sea defences, despite the efforts of My Coastline.
The Point has retreated by 75 metres since 1848, and with ice melt we can only assume that will quicken. Although with Morecambe Bay's peculiar channels and shifting sands, prediction for coastline behaviour is difficult. There is a village on the peninsular, of 30 odd houses. Some up for sale. I spoke to an engineer recently and apparently the government (and local council) is encouraging a stragetic retreat. The link above details the significance of Sunderland Point, but the main difference between here and there is that we've had a seawall in place for centuries, Sunderland Point has not. The seawall this side of the estuary is mainly built from the old sandstone that once made up Cockersand Abbey a leper hospital turned Presbyterian Abbey from the 12th Century.
The narrative from leprosy to sea defence is a poem that has eluded me for the past two years. I watch the sponging of tide and marsh at many high waters and suspect it's a subject that'll never settle into lines.