A summertime evening trip to Compton Bay is high on my priority list each year. Of course, I’d like it to be a weekly event but there aren’t many occasions where there is a helpful collision of sunshine, tides, availability of friends and availability of childcare.
As we were without the children I took the opportunity to head for the Compton Farm end of the beach which requires a longer walk and steeper steps. It is far less accessible than the Hanover Point end of the beach but it is worth the effort as you get to enjoy a) fewer rocks b) better views from the top and c) fewer people, unless it is excellent surfing conditions.
I would like to thank the National Trust for maintaining the steps, as I assume it is them that keeps them open despite the challenges of cliff movements. Some other Isle of Wight beaches have lost accessibility in recent years which is a real shame, although understandable at places such as Whale Chine. It must be dispiriting to spend months planning and constructing a set of complicated steps, only to return a week later and find they have relocated themselves to the foot of the cliffs.
We were alone on the beach apart from a group using Compton Bay as a backdrop for an Instagram photoshoot.
I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way - this really was an intense Instagram photoshoot over three hours rather than a quick pouty selfie with a filter.
You could hardly blame them as it was the sort of evening where you couldn’t take a bad photo with the sunshine bouncing off the sea and the sky slowly changing colour.
The ongoing photoshoot included multiple retakes with two Fortnum and Mason’s picnic baskets which were repeatedly carried up and down the same stretch of beach as the sun reflected off the sea behind. I thought best to keep out of the way so the photo wasn’t ruined by the sight of me in the background in an unforgiving wetsuit or my bright orange Sainsbury’s carrier bag.
There was lots of thoughtful staring into the distance whilst a man with a DSLR said positive things about the lighting and lay down on the sand. The finale was a run and a skip towards the sea in swimsuits which was repeated eight times without the water getting above anyone’s ankles (in fairness, I spent more time squeezing into my wetsuit than I spent in the water).
Our evening was somewhat less photogenic as we realised we didn’t have enough cups to share out a bottle of non-alcoholic Prosecco. We resorted to drinking out of whatever bottle-shaped things we could find in our bags to toast my brother’s birthday.
I will save Instagram the image of my brother’s silhouetted figure sipping from a Tommee Tippee baby bottle against the sunset of Compton Bay and leave the photoshoots to the experts.
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