Impressions and repairs
1st January 2015
Website of the week
4th January 2015

Walking on Sand

We have been not over-indulging this Christmas and New Year.  It’s too easy falling into the trap of eating too much, drinking too much and doing too little at this time of year. So, we have purposely kept the portions small and enjoyed walks along the coast. We are very lucky having the beach so close to us.

I feel really lucky living here. We have the great Northumbrian coastal scenery and the huge array of wildlife. On New Year’s Day we spotted something really unusual on the beach and I will be going back to photograph it.  Unusually I had left my camera at home on that day so we went back this morning and I grabbed some shots.

The sea had uncovered  the remains of an ancient forest that had been buried beneath the sand a long time ago. The stumps were growing out of what looked like a soft black, peaty coal seam. Having been starved of oxygen the wood was well preserved.  A couple of the stumps had been sticking out of the sand for some time and algae had grown onto it.

Our son at the end of the coal seam.


My wonderful wife, Johanna, by one of the stumps growing from the black, peaty, coal-like layer.


Closer views of the wood. Preserved in the anaerobic conditions but not yet fossilised. I am not sure how old this forest was, but it is on the sea side of the sand dunes, so had been here a long-long time. The black, soft organic rock into which it was buried I am guessing was the organic matter that was slowly turning into coal underground, but had not quite become that.

During the Iron Age a tsunami hit this part of the coast and an settlement very close to here was destroyed, There was a recent archaeological dig to investigate the ruins that were beneath the dunes. I wonder if these trees were destroyed and buried by the same event. I have contacted an geologist to find out.



The incoming* tide will cover this twice daily so I suspect that, unless it is covered by the sand again, the soft, organic remains will erode away fairly quickly.  (*Note how I sneaked the 52 theme in there!)




  1. Tammy says:

    I think the family and I are all moving in with you! I am so jealous you get this type of scenery every day! What a find…a hidden treasure you didn’t even know you had! I love that first picture of your son and how the trees lead right to him! I am loving studying the pics in this post! Way too cool!

    • Ivor says:

      Hi Tammy, The first picture is really the only one that I would usually consider as photographically good enough to include in my blog, (and I would have made it monochrome) but I thought it was such an interesting find that it was worth adding the “snaps” as well.

      It’s amazing what little treasures are right on the doorstep.

    • Johanna says:

      Hi Tammy! Shall I clear the space under the stairs then? I hope you are all really small, so you can squeeze in!

  2. lorri says:

    What a great place for daily walks! My favorite shot is the bottom shot of the active water with land out against the horizon. But I like the way the lines lead me through the top shot on the post.

    • Ivor says:

      Thank-you Lorri. I was not that happy with the bottom shot and nearly didn’t post it. It is a manually merged vertical panorama. Because of the angle of the waves it always looks wonky to me, although the waterline along horizon by the island is horizontal and the buildings are vertical. Also, the lighthouse is a bit too central and I should have included more sky! Not a winner in my book, but I am glad you like it!

  3. Julie says:

    Very, very cool. That coal seam is really fascinating. And it’s especially nice seeing Johanna.

    • Ivor says:

      There is always something interesting to see along the coast here. Coal mining used to be a big industry locally, but no longer.There is a lot of coal being washed up on the beach north of here at the moment and people collect it for their fires. I think it is especially nice seeing Johanna too! 😀

  4. Lois Svejda says:

    Love the top image. What a wonderful find.

  5. Madelaine says:

    There is so much beauty in nature if someone just stops and looks around……beautiful!

  6. Ivor says:

    Hi Madelaine. I’m guessing this is in your reader as I have deleted the old 2014 blog site which you might have been linked to. If you delete that one and add this page instead you should get the RSS feed. If it is not there, where are you clicking on my name? Thanks.

  7. KarenAnn says:

    How interesting to be able to come upon something so ancient. Too bad that its visiblility means that it will soon disappear forever. I’m glad you included Johanna in the photo…a nice pop of color and a bit of scale also. Plus her happy smile shows what a fun excursion you enjoyed!

  8. Ericca says:

    Wow! What a wonderful find, and yo captured the details so well. 🙂

  9. Es says:

    Images that tell a story are my favorites, whether they are ‘keepers’ or not. The whole builds a better memory for me. Thanks for sharing the whole story. If I lived near the water, my computer would be filled with waves.

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