I always knew there were naturists in Studland. It’s not a problem with me; I believe that we should be free to live our lives as we choose, without hurting others. Last year, a little reticent but bolstered by my assurances, my girlfriend agreed to walk with me along a path towards the beach.
“The naturists,” I comforted her, “are two hundred yards that way.”
Before the words, “trust me”, had barely left my lips, we strode across the hot sand, dragging rugs and chairs and stamping our feet to dissuade the adders of this arid landscape, home to all six of Britain’s native reptile species.
“Snakes! You didn’t tell me that before!” A voice trailed behind.
“The nearest rattlesnake is behind two inch glass in London Zoo.” I offered, quite convincingly.
Half a mile later, I was left red-faced as a man, dressed in a Gore-Tex walking jacket and rucksack, but who appeared to have left his trousers at home (or on the beach!) casually ambled across the path ahead, before scuttling quickly into the dunes, vanishing like a lizard.
For a moment I wondered if she would ever trust me again, as we hunted for another way to the sea…
Sixteen months later we returned to the bay. Parking at Knoll Beach (£4 a day, free to National Trust members) we lugged the kayak and gear to the water’s edge. High pressure brought dense fog to the coast, so we waited a couple of hours for it to clear, shivering on the beach as local children got themselves thoroughly soaked.
Our plan was to kayak north, away from wasps and crowds to a more deserted spot, just shy of the naturist beach.
Those who venture on the ocean see the land flawlessly, like the view from an aeroplane, and we spotted a perfect, empty patch of sand.
I decided to explore further on my SUP, away from the shore, in my own world, beyond the edge of England; with the comforting certainty that there was no-one else around.
It seems I am not alone in my desire for solitude with the sea.
On a lonely yacht anchored in deep water, diving for his cabin was the pink flash of a man with no clothes on. I suppose he wasn’t expecting someone to ghost by on a paddleboard, at the perfect height to see over his cockpit coaming.
There would appear to be two types of naturists. The rich ones, anchored in Bayliners and Sunseekers, and those who just have to make do with the beach.
And what a beach it is. A metaphysical realm of three elements: sand, sea and sky.