The Living Edens
With my heart in my mouth, I gunned the car and we sped diagonally across the dune, the engine whining with the effort. The next moment, we crested the top of the dune. In front of us dunes converged from all angles, and just ahead lay a yawning hollow -- a dead end in the dunes from which we’d never escape. I spun the steering wheel hard right, the vehicle slithered on the edge of the abyss and then the next second we were heading for another ridge, and another unknown. Such is driving in the dune fields. On the one hand, you need to drive fast enough for the momentum of the car to carry you through the soft sand, but drive too fast and you’ll probably rush over a blind rise and straight into quicksand or a sink hole from which there is no escape.

Fortunately we had chosen the right route, and after a while, the dunes opened up to reveal the wild Atlantic ocean rolling in from the right. Now to get to the lagoon, we had to drive for an hour along the beach, the dunes towering hundreds of feet to our left and the sea washing the shore to our right just feet away. This was a journey only possible at low tide, for at high tide the sea washes right up against the dunes. We could now only pray that we’d got our timing right and that we’d not get hopelessly stuck in the soft wet beach sand.

That trip to Sandwich harbour, a drive into the unknown, was one of the highlights. In fact the greatest volume recorded was over 11,000 cm/sec, more than any other waterfall in the world, including Niagara!

a picture of a steep waterfall at Sandwich harbour

Over the years a number of people have been swept to their deaths over the waterfall or the slippery, steep-sided granite walls. On occasion, police helicopters venture down into the gorge to look for bodies. However, only one pilot of a light aircraft is ever allowed to enter the narrow steep sided gorge in his high wing Cessna 172. We flew with him down the gorge to film the waterfall. It was the first time he’d ever ventured over the waterfall and down into the gorge. Normally he flew up river towards and over the waterfall. We flew just 50 feet above the river before plunging over the waterfall and diving down into the gorge. It was unbelievable seeing the walls of the canyon flash by so closely. One moment we were level, the next we were banking steeply to turn a corner. Being a pilot, I understood the concentration needed, and marveled at the level of skill of our pilot. I couldn’t wait to see the rushes when I returned to the UK.

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