Wendy Turner David Hunter
Alittle girl looks down onto a busy road. If she looks past the yellow trolley-buses and over the rooftops she can almost see the sea.
That was me some 60 years ago looking out of Nana’s top-flat window in Boscombe near Bournemouth on the south coast. Although we lived in the East End of London we spent our summer holidays in Boscombe with Nana and Uncle Jim. Every day we packed peanut butter sandwiches and swim things and headed off to the beach passing grand hotels with great tubs of blue hydrangeas. Then on through the pine trees of beautiful Shelley Park. A whiff of pine whisks me back there even today.
Then on to the cliff top with the sun sparkling like diamonds on the water. On clear days you can see the Needles of the Isle of Wight. Boscombe has a delightful zig-zag path that leads down to the sea, past cliffs alive with yellow gorse and purple heather. It always seemed sunny and the water always felt warm.
Such are the poignant memories of my favourite place in the UK. I visit whenever I can walking barefoot over the grass, strolling down the zig-zag path, looking across to the Isle of Wight and breathing in the salty sea air of the place I love best.
Ihave a catalogue of memories of favourite places across England, but one of the best has to be Surprise View. It is not so far from one of the most photographed places in the Lake District, Ashness Bridge. The view is found just off the narrow road to the remote hamlet of Watendlath. Here, edged by trees, a high cliff offers a superb view along the length of Derwentwater. It is but three miles long and about a mile wide. Tidily compact in its framing by the hills little is lost to the viewer who takes time to enjoy it to the full — but remembers he is at the edge of a very steep drop.
To the north the backdrop is of Skiddaw’s (nowadays not so lonely) heights, one of the chain of beacons that warned of the coming of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Along the western edge is Catbells, long known as the children’s mountain, it is the start of many a good day’s walk and for some the introduction to a lifetime of hill walking — and which alas I can no longer do — save through the pages of my catalogue of memories.