It’s been a while since I’ve shared one of these photos. I started the #seawallscapes series during lockdown as the ash lagoons at Levenhall Links became a regular walk for us. I remember the lagoons from my childhood when it was an industrial site. At that time, the lagoons were still filled with water, but were slowly being filled up with ash deposits from the former Cockenzie Power Station. I remember walking round the individual lagoons, but really nothing else. I don’t recall gazing over the sea wall, for example, although I must have.
This is not the most scenic of walks, but we were appreciating simply being outdoors during lockdown, right? And I started taking photos of the views over the Firth of Forth from the sea wall, recording the simple changes in the cloud formations and the shifting light over the water. After those strange weeks and months were behind us, I still walked here – not as often, but it was a place to stride out and clear my head. It was always a place to take photos and these photos – and videos – were a significant part of the ‘pleasure’ of walking here.
So when work began on the landscaping of the lagoon nearest the River Esk in the autumn of 2021, and when fences were erected on either side of the sea wall path, meaning that you couldn’t reach the wall, the enjoyment of walking here ended. It’s funny, for me, taking photos is an integral part of how I experience and enjoy a place. And then, two weeks ago, when I headed to the lagoons as I just needed to get out, I discovered that those fences had been removed. So I paused for a while, leaning on the wall and listening to the sound of the waves below while watching birds swoop by. I’m glad these simple moments are back.
Levenhall Links, East Lothian, April 2023.