storm beach

A storm beach is a paradoxical feature of the coast, a barrier of gravel, rocks, shingle, even boulders, piled up by extreme storm waves behind the normal margin of the beach and acting as a shield or curtain wall against all but the most violent later storms. In the protection of the storm beach many kinds of vegetation thrive that otherwise might not survive the force of prevailing winds and storm waves. The low rounded ridge nurtures a unique coastal habitat in its wind and wave shadow, a flourishing, diverse culture of plants and birds and other wildlife. Perhaps we might think of an analogy with Offa’s Dyke, a ditch and wall thrown up in the eighth century to protect the Saxons from the Welsh, but which also served to keep Wales lush and wild behind the rough, excluding boundary. Left by the fiercest gales, the storm beach provides sanctuary to a community otherwise unlikely to flourish so close to the battered shore.

Robert Morgan