Postcard from... the Marginal Way

It is barely two kilometres long, this path along the low cliffs and shoreline in Ogunquit on the Maine coast, and yet the Marginal Way is so popular, has become so many people’s “favourite spot”, that the local authorities have had to limit the number of memorial benches erected above the bayberry bushes, the rocky outcrops and the surf. In summertime it must be a procession, a stream of slowly moving sandals and shorts from the beach to the harbour at Perkin’s Cove and back again, but over Easter weekend it still feels decidedly off season. Many of the hotels and guesthouses remain shuttered and closed, and the wide expanse of Ogunquit beach was empty this morning save for a couple of hardy strollers and some cold-resistant surfers clad in black wetsuits from head to toe. 

Up on the path our fellow walkers are enjoying the early spring sunshine, but the dresscode is decidedly more Gore-Tex than Gap beachwear, as the wind blows in off the ocean and the swell breaks on the rocks down beneath where we walk. The houses whose gardens run down to the path and the edge of the cliffs are grand, picturesque piles that must have cost piles, and there is a pleasure in knowing these views out across the Atlantic cannot be completely bought and are available to all via the Marginal Way. 

We pause on a memorial bench – one that got past the waiting list currently pushing 100 – and then press on to Perkin’s Cove. There is some signs of life here. Shops selling overpriced, nautical souvenirs are open, as are the galleries of average but well-positioned local artists. Lobster rolls cost 20 dollars, but on the quay car parking spaces are still reserved for local fishermen and the small print of the menu tells us the shellfish in the roll was brought ashore by the owner himself. In a month or so we could catch the trolley train home, but it remains locked away in its whitewashed, clapboard garage, so we head back the way we came, along the Marginal Way, hugging the Atlantic shore.

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