Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Walk on the Cliff

I recently made a trip to Massachusetts to visit family. Both of my sisters and two of my three brothers live in the greater Boston area. Until her death two years ago, my mother lived there as well. For years now I’ve made an annual trek to Massachusetts. It used to be mainly to visit my mother, but it was always an occasion to see most of the rest of my siblings as well.

Part of the cliff walk
 While I was there my sister and I took a trip to visit Newport, Rhode Island, one-time playground of the very rich who fled New York’s summer heat for cool breezes, lush beaches, and glorious estates. On a previous visit we’d toured The Breakers, summer home of the Vanderbilts. It’s a gawk-worthy place, a virtual palace for the wealthiest of the wealthy of late nineteenth century New York.

Rear view of The Breakers
On this trip, though, we decided to walk the cliff-walk, which winds along the cliff just above Easton Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. On the shore side the path cuts through the back yards of many of the most extravagant mansions of the Gilded Age, including The Breakers, Rosecliff, commissioned by Nevada silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs in 1899, The Elms, summer home of coal baron Julius Edward Berwind, and Marble House, a sumptuous home built by another scion of the Vanderbilts.

A rougher part of the cliff walk
But just as impressive as the astonishing mansions that back onto the cliff is the natural beauty of the setting. We were fortunate to have a glorious September day for our walk, and the view out over the water was marvelous. We didn’t make it the whole two and a half mile distance since we knew we’d have to hike back and the day was getting warmer, but we got well over halfway.

Other Newport mansions
It’s not all easy walking. The first three quarters of a mile or so is relatively level and easy going. Beyond that, though, there are sections of stairs, some uneven ground, and even a section where you have to pick your way across rocks. Parts of the cliff were damaged by Hurricane Sandy a couple of years ago and had to be rebuilt.

And then there was an unexpected and interesting discovery: Love Locks. Maybe you’ve heard of them, but neither my sister nor I had. So we were completely mystified when we came to a section of fence decorated with at least a hundred padlocks in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Most had initials painted on them.

I had to look it up when I got him to find out about Love Locks (, which has apparently been a European phenomenon for some time.  According to the Wikipedia article, “Typically the sweethearts' names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolise unbreakable love.” In some places the locks have become a nuisance, but Newport doesn’t seem to be discouraging it.

I admit that I find the symbolism of the gesture pretty captivating!

Note: I have to add that I’ve just had my first new novel release in a couple of years this past week. The Detective’s Dilemma is a short romantic suspense novel published in paperback and ebook by Kensington’s Lyrical Press imprint.
If you’re willing to do an honest review of the book in exchange for a free copy, email me at
The Detective’s Dilemma is a short romantic suspense novel published in paperback and ebook by Kensington’s Lyrical Press imprint.

Blurb: Although Sarah Anne Martin admits to pulling the trigger, she swears someone forced her to kill her lover. Homicide detective Jay Christianson is skeptical, but enough ambiguous evidence exists to make her story plausible. If he gives her enough freedom, she’ll either incriminate herself or draw out the real killers. But, having been burned before, Jay doesn’t trust his own protective instincts…and his growing attraction to Sarah only complicates matters. With desire burning between them, their relationship could ultimately be doomed since Sarah will be arrested for murder if they can’t find the real killer.


  1. Karen, we took the cliff walk when we visited Newport a number of years ago so this post and the photos brought back some very pleasant memories. Thank you!

  2. The Love Locks remind me of Love Spoons, a tradition in Wales: the spoons are carved by the lover for his sweetheart and given as a token of his love. Now, they are given as wedding presents or they are manufactured as souvenirs for tourists. Lovely photos.

  3. Wow. Wonderful. I'll have to put it on my list of "places to visit".

  4. Karen,

    We lived in Newport for 3 years and on New Year's Eve there was a white fluffy snow we headed to cliff walk and it was so quiet and beautiful! But I much prefer it on a clear sunny day! Thanks for reminding me of the great times there. Enjoyed the post immensely!