Monday, 4 February 2013

Car Park

I'm not talking painted bays or a three storey... This car park, before it was a car park, would have been a bicycle park, and before that, a farm track leading to a field. Although I wonder if it ever was just a track.

Visitors would have come here when the lighthouse was built in 1847 (with compensation money from the railway company that built the bridge further upstream so finishing Lancaster's career as a port). The lighthouse marked the channel to Glasson Dock, just another couple of miles upstream. As well as a marker for boats, lighthouses also act as beacons for landlubbers to walk to, acknowledge as journey's end, land's end and leave.

It is still is a farm track, one that bellies out just above the shingle beach/marsh opposite the lighthouse. A slither of gravel, puddles, broken bricks and silt. A beauty spot. Tyres and feet keep the field verges back.  Despite the wind-hammered fence posts, every so often either broken in half or at skewed angles from the ground, the wiring keeps most of the cattle in the field - apart from a sheep or cow each year or so.

(The cow that appeared last summer lay bloated on the beach for a couple of days before it was hefted away. A sheep, the summer before, rotted down to bones still strewn amongst the marsh.)

I like the car park. I like the improvised nature of it; that the farmer accepts the tradition of visitors coming to look at the waders, lighthouse, sunsets; that he doesn't seal the road so the pot holes grow year on year (you wouldn't park there in a car with low suspension); that what has drawn the visitors also brings crap to threaten its beauty; that it is locked every night to give the oystercatchers, dunlins, lapwings, herons, curlews, godwits peace from the walkers and their dogs. On low tide at sunsets the birds are all out, calling come here, go away, come, go ... as if they've pulled out whistles, horns and tooting streamers for a nightly party, I'm univited to, somewhere just beyond, low, in the dusk. An invisible avian metropolis, diminishing with the marsh year on year.


Lorna Smithers said...

I enjoyed reading this post. It made me think about how when I go walking it's rare I pay attention to the places I park, too busy thinking about the destination... The car park becomes a take off pad and nothing more. Whereas for the birds it's a city home. Interesting what a shift in perspective can do.

Lorna Smithers said...
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Sarah Hymas said...

I hadn't even thought of that, Lorna, yes, funny how that destination is not one at all really.