Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Senior Community Fundraiser

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I had a wonderful time camping on the coast. The weather was sunshine and showers with enough wind to make us feel like our little tent might spiral off into the sky and end up in the Land of Oz. It was a weekend with a little bit of magic in the air, a feeling of anything being possible.

This was never so true as our walk on the salt marshes. The knowledge of a ‘secret’ walk with the chance of a fairy tale ending had been imparted to us in hushed tones earlier in the day.

We could barely contain our excitement as we scurried down to the coastal path, rambling past a couple walking their dog and a group of teenagers. We quickly saw the first signpost our guide had given us – the tidal tributary flowing in from the sea and in the distance the five wooden bridges he had told us to cross. Picking our way across the cracked mud of the marsh, avoiding the boggy areas and jumping across the crevices we dared to, we came to the first of the five bridges. I felt elated with trepidation – it was like being in a fairy tale, following these clandestine instructions with the prospect of finding treasure at the end of our adventure.

I trapped across the first wooden bridge, half expecting a troll to appear from underneath it. None arose, but as I looked back on where we’d come from I realised we were far from the main pathway. We sallied forth, coming to gaps too big to jump and having to double back on ourselves, find new ways to reach the next bridge, our pace quickening as we reached the final crossing. As I crossed the bridge I wondered whether we might be transported into another world, the final gateway to an alternative universe perhaps? My mind was running wild with the possibilities, but none were as thrilling as the scene I encountered.

As I alighted I saw them on the sandbank. Seals. About 40 of them lounging on the beach, mounds of grey blubber, easily mistaken for rocks from further away. And there we were, infiltrating their natural space, the only things taller than a foot for a long way around.

The tides and bog too dangerous for most to venture out to this point, we were somewhere completely untouched, where nature existed in the same way it always had for the birds and wildlife that lived here. This was nature in it’s true home. It felt so peaceful and pure and fabulous to be there, but I also knew we had to retreat, leaving nothing but our footprints, so that nature could reclaim this beautiful spot and be at home again once more.

Nature is losing this kind of truly wild home in the UK, but where it does still exist, the RSPB helps to protect it. To find out how you can give nature a home where you live go to www.rspb.org.uk/homes

Photo: Grey seal by Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

Anonymous