The car is covered in a thick layer of ice, the condensation on the windows inside is now frozen. I am sat upright in the passenger seat in a thick four season sleeping bag, dressed in a coat with thermals underneath. It’s been a surprisingly comfortable night’s sleep, likewise for Ian partially stretched out in the back, once he’d got over my snoring. However I am totally not motivated to get out of the car, I can see through ice free patches that the Sun is not yet above the horizon, and everywhere is frozen solid.
I turn the ignition and the little Subaru jumps into life and pumps out freezing cold air. We’d arrived here late and in the dark, and sat for a good hour with the heating on before sleep. It’s a scramble to turn the blast of air off, and I then sit in an almost catatonic state figuring out how to get out of the car and check the surf. The temperature on the display reads -9, I never trust these, but it seems cold enough to be penetrating my skull. I force the frozen solid door and climb out still in my sleeping bag. If there were anyone for miles to see me they would surely think me deranged. After what seems like an eternity, I pull the bag down, grab some insane under-wader fishing trousers, designed to be worn in Arctic rivers and sling on my boots.
I am cold.
Striding up the dune purposefully, a freezing offshore at my back, I have to say I am once again questioning my sanity. The sand beneath my feet doesn’t even crunch, it’s frozen way below just a crust. In places it’s even slippery it’s so frozen solid. On the horizon to the east a sliver of sunlight is trying to break free above the north Atlantic, it will do nothing for the warmth for hours, in fact it will change little due to the breeze coming off the snowfields behind me. The ocean is a grey/blue with a few fingers of orange. It is also pure corduroy, lines stretch out for miles, but this is one of those mornings born to deceive. The surf is stacked, but even when it hits a perfect little bank it is little more than waist high. I know Ian will surf it though, and there is a sweet little ramp into the end section.
It’s not what is at sea that grabs my attention though. As the first rays of dawn light the beach up, it’s apparent that frozen in the sand are loads of plastic bottles. This stretch of coast is open to everything the Atlantic can throw at it, the beach is littered with all kinds of bottles. The high tide line is also frozen, seaweed and tiny plastic fragments. But that is still not the worst. Looking back at the dunes they are full of fishing nets, some of them even holding the whole system together. The beach, just below the Arctic, on one of the remotest coastlines on Earth is full of every sort of marine litter you can imagine, it’s heartbreaking. It makes sleeping in a compact to document its full horror a worthwhile thing to do.
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