During the winter months I like to go to the beach at Hornsea. If you stand at the water’s edge on a bleak and overcast day and look out to the horizon, the iron grey sea meets the sky in a seemingly seamless whole. You feel the pull of gravity at your feet and the vast enormity above you. It’s like being a look-out at the edge of the world.
There is a place I go when I want inspiration, and it’s at the very end of Victoria Pier in Hull, where the whirling water washes up through precarious wooden slats. Water is one of nature’s great beauties, and the wild current of the dangerous Humber Estuary – which leads eventually to the hostile North Sea – demands respect. Here, in the brisk briny breeze, I’m brave enough to lean right over the railings so I can see where the sky marries the sea on the horizon, and it feels like time stops.
When I’m driving along the side of the sea wall between Winchelsea Beach and Pett Level on the East Sussex coast the view inland across the bird sanctuary ponds and fields up to Pett is stunning. When there’s an early morning mist or sunset there’s something quite mystical in the way the horizon stretch across from Cliff End and Fairlight to Pett. You see woods, cliffs, hills, water and the sun lifting away ahead of you. There’s often a light haze that’s illuminated by the sunset that cloaks the area makes you realise why the infamous Hawkhurst Gang used to meet there at Toot Rock. It’s a special and mysterious place.
One of the loveliest views I know is of the sea over the Bristol Channel on Exmoor as you approach the farmhouse we rent for holidays. The sea suddenly comes into a view as you round the laid hedges. You are 1000 feet up. On a clear day you can see the coast of Wales clearly. The wonderful thing is that the view is never the same twice: I must have gazed at it thousands of times over the last ten years or so, and it always presents you with a different spectacle: blue sky, cloudy sky, sky with a buzzard flying past, red sky, dark sea,m blue sea, sea with boats, empty sea, starry sky, bright sky, gloomy sky… it is an ever-changing spectacle.
Editor, The Idler
My favourite view (and being a North Londoner is a slightly obvious one I guess ) has to be the top of Primrose Hill. My first memories stretch all the way back to primary school days back in the early 70’s and going there on a wet, cold November Friday afternoon and playing football. Having said that those memories are tinged with a bitterness as I was usually the last one to be chosen!
Speaking of better times, it was a favourite place to walk later with my dear Father (in fact my family once talked of scattering his ashes up there) whilst later it was where I would take my girlfriends for a romantic sunny afternoon or evening for a beverage or two, to watch the sunset and marvel at that spectacular view. Great memories of happy times with the likes of Paula, Beatrice, Sonia, Lesley and Karen. Not all at the same time I hasten to add. Even after all these years, I never get bored of that panoramic view of London. It simply takes my breath away every time I reach the summit.
Torridge estuary locals argue whether it’s better to look across the wide mouth of this tidal river at the ranks of smart sea captain’s houses on the east bank at Instow or the other way, to the tiny pastel fishermen’s cottages along Appledore waterfront. It’s hard to choose but I plump for looking west at sunset, the orange sky behind the bobbling boats and Appledore’s cheery paintbox facades fading into the twilight.
One of my favourite views is over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales from the point known as the Three Sisters. It’s enigmatic – you’re looking across a sunken plateau, so why are they called mountains? – and it gives a vivid impression of the immense barriers faced by the early explorers and settlers. They really are blue though, thanks to ‘mie scattering’ in the atmosphere of particles from eucalyptus trees.