One of the things that Neel and I bemoan about living here in Norfolk is the lack of wide-open walking spaces. My Friday hikes that I take with my friend Tracy are wonderful, but they are, admittedly, a haul from home. We've been planning for the past several Sundays to get out there for a family hike and have yet to stir ourselves. On our heads be it. No excuses, really, just the distance. We really need to pull it together.
If I lived in Nantucket, I would do the Bluff Walk in Sconset every day, I think (as long as it wasn't raining sideways, of course!). Siasconset, or Sconset is a village on the eastern end of the island, about eight miles from Nantucket proper. The village was originally an outpost of small fishing shacks, built to house fishermen during the cod season, which fell in the spring and again in the fall. Eventually the fishing shacks, which were originally one-room, dirt floor dwellings with cooking done in the open air, were winterized and expanded as more and more fishermen began to live in them year round. Because building is hard, even today, on an island (Let me think how many times we have to run to The Home Depot during any given reno project!), additions to the shacks were made using bits and pieces found on the island (sometimes from wrecked ships). Many of these cottages still stand today, and when you see picture of a quintessential rose-covered Nantucket cottage, you're likely seeing a house in Sconset.
You can reach Sconset by bus, car or bike (80 miles of bike paths traverse the island), and the village itself has all the basic necessities: post office, church, shops, restaurants. It is very much a summer community, however, pleasantly away from the bustle of Nantucket proper, but the place clears out almost completely after Labor Day. It was practically a ghost town when we were there.
We took a walk on Thanksgiving. Jon stayed behind to tend the turkey, but Megan piled all of us and the kids into the car and drove us the short trip to the villiage. Walking the bluff is essentially walking in someone's backyard. The path we were on wound along the sea, offering glimpses of the sweeping Atlantic on one side and quaint, rambling cottages on the other. The sea is winning. The ocean is eating away at the bluff, so that once wide back yards are creeping closer to the beach. Someday all of Nantucket will slip back into the ocean, and nowhere is this more evident than in Sconset.
We walked...north I guess, with the ocean on our right... along the path. The view was breathtaking, perched as we were above the sea. I wondered if this was what it felt like to walk along the beaches of Scotland or Cornwall maybe. A thready path worn among the grass, the scrubby cliff falling away beside me. Everyone wandered up ahead, and of course I lingered behind, camera at my side. Megan put it to a vote. Did we want to walk all the way to the light house or go down now and back along the beach? I was intrigued by the light, but I lost. We were getting ready for dinner, I suppose. The steps are private, but in the winter it must not matter as much. The beach walk was stunningly beautiful, with coarse sand that made it a bit of a hard go. By the time we got back to the village, the sun was slipping down.
Time to go.