'The coast reminds me of freedom': Why Agnes is helping keep the coast alive

For Agnes Segal, the coast has always inspired wonder and adventure. Clambering over rocks and feeling on the edge of the world, with the open sea stretching out before her. Gathering seaweed from rock pools and galloping like a horse across the sand. Peering over high headlands to watch the waves clash against the rocks, then plunge down into a swirl of green, blue and white.

It’s these moments of freedom, fascination and joy that Agnes wants to protect – and it’s why she’s leaving a gift in her will to the National Trust.

A place to play

'When I was a little girl my parents often took me to a wonderful little beach called Porth Iago near to Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula,' says Agnes. 'It wasn’t always in summertime – we’d often be in trousers and wind jackets on the beach. Frequently we were the only people there.'

She says, 'We used to play in the rock pools and see what we could find around the edge. We used to pick up seaweed. I can remember pretending to be a horse with a tail as I galloped across the beach.

'In summer we would take a picnic, we would swim, and my daddy made sandcastles with me. There was a very steep sandbank behind the beach and that was a big climb for little legs. I remember being about four years old and thinking, "How will I ever reach the top?" As I got older I would climb up and roll all the way down.'

National Trust supporter Agnes remembers childhood days digging on the beach with her father in the 1950s
National Trust supporter and donor Agnes plays on the beach with her father in the 1950s
National Trust supporter Agnes remembers childhood days digging on the beach with her father in the 1950s

Waves in time

Walking along the coast to the headlands, Agnes loved the open space and the wildness of the sea.

'Looking down from the headlands, you could see the patterns in the water as the waves hit the rocks and then went back underneath the surface,’ she says. ‘You could see all the movement of the waves receding. It’s still such a powerful image for me.'

Agnes would scramble along rocks, following an ore seam about halfway down the coastal cliffs. 'I used to so enjoy walking around that groove,' she says. 'It was exciting and a bit daring, lots of jumping from rock to rock. It was different from being on a sandy beach where you shelve into the sea - you’d see the waves coming in and occasionally they'd splash you.’

'The sands would sing when you put your feet into them.' - Agnes Segal, on nearby Porthor 'Whistling Sands' beach, Llŷn Peninsula
View across the beach at Porthor, Llŷn Peninsula
'The sands would sing when you put your feet into them.' - Agnes Segal, on nearby Porthor 'Whistling Sands' beach, Llŷn Peninsula

Childhood on the beach

Despite living in East Finchley, London, for the last 30 years, Agnes always feels at home by the sea. An island child, she grew up on the Wirral in Merseyside, with the river estuaries on both sides. They would often go to the beach on a Sunday afternoon and the coast was her playground.

'When I’m on the beach nowadays, I still feel that expansion; the feeling that the sea is big and beautiful and the world is out there,' she says. 'I would feel trapped without the coast.'

She added: 'When my parents died all those years later while we were living in Bristol, my husband took me down to the North Cornish coast for a weekend – just to walk – and that was very healing. That coastal feeling is so important to me and it’s the one thing I miss about living in London. I really miss the sea.'

" The coast reminds me of freedom. I envy the birds that can fly off over the sea, I envy the sea creatures that manage the waves without fear."
- Agnes Segal

Giving back to the coast

Agnes has left a gift in her will to the National Trust to help look after the coast and its precious wildlife, for everyone.

'My father first told me about the National Trust and how important it was that these beautiful wild places should be preserved from development,' she says. 'If I’ve had this joy, surely I want to do what I can to enable other people to have that joy.'

We’re so grateful to everyone who’s left a gift in their will to look after the coast, including Agnes. If you’d like to help look after our coast, please donate to our Coast appeal, or find out more about leaving a gift in your will below.

 

Childhood memories on the coast - Agnes Segal

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