Vault Beach – Shipwrecks and Naturists

I’m currently between watery travels, so the third instalment of Thetford to Norwich will appear as soon as I have time to tell it – hopefully by the end of this month. In the meantime, here’s a little piece from Cornwall to ‘wet’ your appetite!

Vault Beach, Gorran Haven, Cornwall

Amid the peal and clatter of Sunday bells, we scrambled to the cove. Vault Beach is so-named for its association with death – more specifically those caused by the dark Dodman, or Deadman Point, whose shadow casts a ghostly gloom over the bay on summer evenings.

Vault Beach, Gorran Haven, Cornwall

Dropping lower, the quiet brightness dulling thoughts of shipwreck – I listened as the ambient sounds transformed with every step closer to the sea. From the high cliffs came the grating of crows, and in a lush tunnel of bracken, the bustling of bees. In brief snatches of silence a faint wind played on our ears and offshore yachts rolled, struggling for headway in the feeble breeze. A trio of kayakers chatted languidly around the rocks, and as I dipped my toes I felt the sea crackle, hiss and suck over the shingle, glowing green and white where the pale sun found quartz pebbles on the seabed. I swam out beyond my depth – which isn’t very far – through patches of warm and cold and to my right I saw a paddler dance from the waves as if stung by the chill that fogged my camera lens. It was difficult to believe the 19 degree sea temperature quoted in the local news.

Vault Beach, Gorran Haven, Cornwall

At the extreme end of the beach’s artistic curve, marked by a brazen white cross, is a narrow chord of sand populated by naturists, dogs and others lacking tan lines and inhibitions, enjoying a peaceful sunbathe and swim far from the tourist hotspots I usually avoid. Sweeping a hole in the sand, and uncovering a colony of clockwork crustaceans – later identified as sand fleas – I lay back to enjoy the rippling heat, albeit with my shorts still on, before tackling the steep climb back to the road. Thoughts of large steak pasties from Nile’s Bakery sustained us through the ‘calf workout’ so aptly described by my girlfriend, and after all that exercise I reckon we earned it.

Vault Beach, Gorran Haven, Cornwall

P.S. Nile doesn’t open on Sundays.


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