Saturday, June 2, 2012

Chesil Beach Pebbles

Chesil Beach, Dorset
Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
~Khalil Gibran
Chesil Beach is a 18 mile coastal stretch on the south coast of England that I visited one blustery fall afternoon in the early 1990s with my wife and children ages one and four.

Chesil Beach is made up almost entirely of pebbles - an estimated 180 billion of them. It is a wondrous and curious place for children and adults alike.

Beach Physics

The pebbles diminish from potato-size to pea-size as you walk northwestward along the beach. Pebbles are transported east along the beach driven by waves. The wave action has graded the pebbles in size all the way along it.

Potato-Sized to Pea-Sized Pebbles
Of Chesil Bank, as it is known to locals, English novelist John Fowles said,
"It is above all an elemental place, made of sea, shingle and sky, its dominant sound always that of waves on moving stone: from the great surf and pounding “grounds of seas” of sou’westers, to the delicate laps and back-gurgling of the rare dead calm."
~John Fowles, English novelist (1926 - 2005)

According to local folklore, smugglers knew where they had landed from the size of the pebbles on the beach. 

Additional Reading