Lost to the Sea Blog

A virtual scrapbook of things picked up along the way

INTRODUCTION: Postcards from the Edge

I’ve begun gathering these remnants in the months before the book comes out, in part as it’s hard to let go of a project that’s obsessed me for the past three years. Now, sorting through the piles of postcards and old booklets, beachcombings, cuttings and photographs, I…
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A lost church & half a village

Along a 4-mile stretch between our house and Warden Point, the island has lost farms and cottages, pubs, a post office and at least one church. On average the island’s cliffs lose some five feet a year, although after years of little change acres can be lost at…
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Otherworld islands

Researching tales of enchanted islands off the west coast of Ireland, I came across some fantastical images. The roots of the stories lie in medieval legends of seafaring Irish monks, including the ninth-century Voyage of Saint Brendan and even earlier Voyage of Bran. In search of the…
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Britain’s oldest amusement park

Blackgang Chine sits high above a landslip at the ‘Back of the Wight’. With a longstanding reputation for whimsical creepiness, the park has been owned by the Dabell family since opening in 1843. Today, the usual thrill rides – and animatronic dinosaurs – join some early favourites:…
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Ghostly drunken laughter from the Penny O’Pint

Before it began to collapse into the sea, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was Blackpool’s first entertainment venue. It’s said to have started out as a ginger beer stall in the 1850s, selling sweets and nuts, with fortunes told by ‘Gipsy Sarah’. With a traveller encampment on nearby cliffs…
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The Garden of Sleep

This postcard shows some wonderfully spectral Edwardians wandering the clifftop graveyard of St Michael and All Angels Church at Sidestrand. In the early 1880s, as the cliff edge drew nearer, its medieval nave and chancel were dismantled and rebuilt inland. The tower and churchyard, though, remained on…
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Moorlog & Doggerland

Spotting the fragment above, I thought grizzled shoe-sole before I saw moorlog. Dusted with salt crystals, the peat was pierced with finger-sized holes, that I recognised – with glee – were made by piddocks. Usually, these elegant marine bivalves live embedded in soft seabed rock such as…
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Submerged forest

Borth was the first place I visited while researching Lost to the Sea. For most of the time, its spectacular submerged forest lies hidden beneath foreshore sand. Having no idea if it would appear before I finished the book, I was delighted to hear the trees were…

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Nine pubs lost to the sea

Once at the heart of their local communities, all nine of these pubs were lost to erosion in the 1900s. Of course, the most striking photographs are when they teeter on the brink, not least an abandoned Lord Nelson at the edge of a crumbling English cliff.
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