It was a pebble beach. The road from the cliff wound around towards the sea and doubled back. It brought you out at the top of the village where the boats could be reversed with care onto the top of the shingle.
The stones were graded in size from the top of the beach near the village down to the water’s edge. Large frying pan sized rocks at the top which would barely move if you stood on them. They ground together with a significant noise. Beyond these, the wetter, darker ankle-turners. These are the ones that tourists would take home from the visits and rest on mantlepieces or in gardens – moments stolen from this beach.
The grinding of the stones kept on until the impacted dark sand. Although it appeared black on first glance, sifting it through your hands would show that it held grains of white and grey – the overall appearance though was undeniably black. Sitting heavy and black, awaiting the inevitable tides which would briefly give them movement, lift them in a frenzy of wash until settling them down in a hard retreat.
Because the bay was sheltered the storm winds never drove the waves into the sort of impressive peaks that the blonder, sandier beaches down the coast did. This dark beach was singularly unusual in its appearance – almost an anti-beach. Some thought it unwelcoming and were content to leave it to the hobby fishermen who used the protected cove as a means to launch their boats.
It enjoyed a brief popularity in the 1940s when an influential newspaper claimed that the black sands were a tonic for conditions of the skin. Many in the area claimed that this was the work of the mayor of the time who imagined queues of tourists purchasing souvenirs and contributing to the upkeep of the town. There was even some truth in the claim – the black sands held a greater concentration of some mineral which promoted the easing of symptoms for eczema, but ultimately, the dour view and the bleakness of the cove left the tourists cold and the beach empty.