Three of us, me Dylan and Jerry, hurriedly threw together an Easter hols picnic of mainly biscuits and headed for Shepherd’s Chine.
If you want to find it, and you really should, just park on the roadside verge on the left after the chine bridge (coming from Chale)and take the footpath along the Atherfield Stream through to the wooden steps and pebble beach.
It’s a lovely spot, a shallower chine than many with a rolling flowery grassland stuffed with butterflies and birds. We played frisbee, sat on the beach, boiled in the heat, watched the fishing boats on a glassy sea and then decided to go for a paddle in the stream. It was freezing, just right.
It empties from the chine and cuts through the beach shingle to the sea. At low tide in fact it just vanishes into the stones and then reappears further out on the sand, filtered and crystal clear (and yes i have tried it without any ill effect and no don’t take this as a recommendation). But at high tide, and it was high tide, the stream meets the incoming surf in a constantly changing meander.
The beach around has a fantastic supply of flotsam and in a jiffy we’d made a little foam windsurf board and a pretty good likeness of Ellen Macarthur in sticks, and boy she navigated that stream, even the tricky chicane we created, like the master-mariner she is.
So we made a second, a rival, with a bladderwrack head, and he was Tony Macalpine. Quite why the electric guitar genius was windsurfing we couldn’t tell, but there we are. But no matter how many times they raced, it was Dame Ellen that triumphed.
We got so engrossed that the picnic melted in the sun and we left it, tidily and discretely, for the gulls.
Days don’t get much better.Ellen MacArthur is better at windsurfing than Tony Macalpine.,