Do not approach or touch any object as it may explode and kill you
September 10, 2020 5:18 AM   Subscribe

"This path literally only goes to a place called Foulness, is super deadly and lots of people have been killed here, but is there any way we can make it less attractive?"
"How about if we leave unexploded ordinance lying around?"
posted by jacquilynne at 6:40 AM on September 10 [16 favorites]

Great read. Did not expect that scenario at all - I was imagining dizzying heights, or terrible weather. Not just a simple, deadly stroll on misty tidal flats.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:46 AM on September 10

Sounds like a place I couldn't resist. It's truly difficult to understand the captivating experience of liminal places like this, where it truly feels like you're not on our planet. There are several large interstate bridges where I live, if you go over them at night the bay is the same color as the sky, and there's no horizon. A bridge over endless black.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:21 AM on September 10 [12 favorites]

The Broomway section was the most memorable part of "The Old Ways" for me, and I meant to look the place up. Those pictures are great.

There was an "In Our Time" episode about how diverse UK is geologically, for a small country, and the Broomway is definitely proof of that.
posted by of strange foe at 7:24 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]

This feels to me like it should have been in a Harry Potter novel, not actually a real place.

The Imp of the Perverse must pull really hard on the locals for that path to be maintained.

I miss England.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:34 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]

The Broomway is thought to have killed more than 100 people over the centuries; it seems likely that there were other victims whose fates went unrecorded. Sixty-six of its dead are buried in the little Foulness churchyard; the other bodies were not recovered. Edwardian newspapers, alert to the path’s reputation, rechristened it “The Doomway”.
I know that Britain has its own problems, but damn do I want to live in a place where that's a real thing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:40 AM on September 10

"liminal". yes.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:08 AM on September 10

Quintin Lake, a professional photographer currently coming to the end of a round-Britain walk, walked The Broomway just this past weekend. His Twitter thread, with videos, is worth a look.
posted by freddles at 9:19 AM on September 10 [6 favorites]

Thanks, freddles! I didn't know about Quintin Lake and his work is great.
posted by oulipian at 9:30 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]

Atlas Obscura also has a lovely entry about The Broomway, with photos.
posted by Ahmad Khani at 9:32 AM on September 10

There is an even more dangerous walk across Morecombe Bay, but it is recognised as such and for nearly 500 years royally appointed Guides To The Sands have safely escorted thousands of people, 27 geese and Prince Phillip in a horse-drawn carriage (alas, separately) across the bay.
posted by Vortisaur at 10:41 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]

And then there's Mont Saint Michel, perched on a tiny island 240' above sea level in a bay with a 45' tidal range, and known for its hazardous tideland walk (though passable in the present day with a causeway). Mont St Michel has a very memorable chapter in Jonathan White's "Tides".
posted by cnidaria at 11:45 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]

Coincidentally I was looking online yesterday about doing The Broomway, probably with a guide.

The bit towards the end of Mcfarlane's account where he walks out towards the sea for a couple of miles always strikes me. He mentions a few times in the previous paragraphs about how treacherous the sands are away from the path, the entire section of the book deals with how deadly this footpath is, in part due to the way it can appear so safe and underestimated. All of that is there, all that information that we know he knows, and yet he's still seduced in the moment.

To me it's an illustration of how the subtle dangers can be underestimated by the subconscious. The irresponsibility of it made my friend furious though. I guess it all depends on if you read it as a considered decision, or a retelling of a bout of summit fever.
posted by MattWPBS at 12:00 PM on September 10 [4 favorites]

Reads like Tarkovsky's Stalker: The Promenade show
posted by davemee at 1:50 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]

That sounds like a walk that would be both interesting and somewhat creepy. The part where he walked straight out towards the sea would definitely give me pause.

At the same time, ~100 known deaths for a path used since at least 1419 isn't actually all that many, considering the timespan.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:14 PM on September 10

Thanks for this post, that was fascinating.
posted by medusa at 4:11 PM on September 10

Possibly related.
posted by vrakatar at 9:40 PM on September 10

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