Not the beach we were at today and where I read this. Southampton, England.
I say it isn’t much of a beach, but that doesn’t do it justice, since it has a beauty all its own---more so for being seldom visited out of season except by dog-walkers and anglers. It is set at the end of a shallow bay that marks the south-eastern limits of the city. To reach it, I ride [my bike] along a waterfront set with desultory concrete shelters and backed by common land to which are chained half a dozen horses. Behind stands a post-war housing estate, one-quarter of whose population live in poverty.
The path ahead passes through a stand of trees then gives way to the beach, bordered by a waist-high sea wall with a narrow ledge, just wide enough for a person to walk along. To the landward is a sweep of grass and an avenue of oaks and pines. Gnarled and bowed, they mark an old carriageway that leads with a grandeur out of all expectation to a Tudor fort and a Cistercian abbey that once dominated this eastern bank of the estuary. Now the abbey lies in ruins, surrounded by scrubby woods and stagnant stewponds, while the fort, built out of stone robbed from the dissolved abbey, became a grand Victorian pile recently extended in a replica of itself as a series of expensive apartments.
In this interzone, the modern world has yet to wipe out the past. Although the city is in sight, this place can seem haunted on a winter’s afternoon, with its bare trees bent back by the prevailing sou’westerlies, and its torring woooden piles, the remains of long-decayed jetties. The yacht club’s boats stand unattended in their pound, the wind rattling nylon lines against aluminum masts in a continual tattoo.
---from The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare.