We are not your typical beachgoers–sunny, hot days, time spent lying in the sun. Nope, not what I can do. But when the weather clouds up, cools down, and most folks stay away from the beach, that’s just perfect for me! After the hottest days of August, we have had some cooler days recently, and lots of rain. Yes, just right for a jaunt to the ocean to my favorite spot, Gooseberry Island in Westport.
We had recently traveled to Halibut Point in Rockport and noticed clouds of swallows in the brush next to the ocean there. When we arrived at Gooseberry island we saw similar clouds of birds swarming over the greenery that fills the middle of this small spit of land that juts out into Long Island Sound, near Horseneck Beach in Westport.
We decided to walk first up the path that cuts a line through the middle of this small island (there’s a causeway out to the island, no boats required to visit). At the far end is a WWII watchtower, left from a time when German U-boats prowled the shoreline, threatening the east coast. On our way out to the far end of the island, we took a side path to the west side of the island, an area I usually miss since that shoreline is filled with many more large cobbles, difficult footing for me.
When we got out to the water’s edge we noticed rocks showing (it was low tide) but then realized that one of the “rocks” kept appearing and disappearing.
A seal, right off shore.
On a previous visit earlier this summer the island was filled with colorful blossoms, but now, late August,
the flowers have mostly passed, and instead, brightly colored rose hips covered the bushes.
Eider ducks often hang out in this area, but we spotted only a few this time. One eider, apparently a juvenile, struggled to climb onto a rock just off shore. He finally got up, settled in, only to have a large wave wash over him and the rock he was perched on. I guess this is how they learn.
After a two hour leisurely walk we were done, and found a spot to enjoy lobster rolls and fish sandwiches. The business there is steady this time of year, but before long, they will pull down their shutters and shut down for the season, awaiting summer’s return next year.
Once the weather gets more winterish, the gate to the causeway leading to Gooseberry Island is locked, (really rough weather can cause waves to wash over the causeway). But a parking area is just next to the causeway that allows for parking in the winter months. Access in winter is still relatively easy, and offers a quite different view of the beach than many beachgoers ever take in, for sure.
In searching for links to help readers learn more, I came across this website–amazing pictures, history of Gooseberry Island and much more. Enjoy! https://gooseberryjournal.wordpress.com/
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.