Monday, 30 January 2017

A Great Man

The walk west from Landimore along the edge of the marsh is bounded to the north by a high wooded escarpment.  Sheep shelter in these woods, particularly during winter months, and there’s hardly any understory.  I clamber up through the trees to North Hill Tor; I chose this route not wishing to pass though the farm, but am soon discovered by the farmer’s sheep dog.  At first he threatens, then his bark is worse than his bite, and now he’s my friend.  Ravens nest below the rocky tor and have probably done so for centuries.  They too check me out and like my newly found friend, accept this strange figure entering their remote world.

It’s rugged on the top of the tor.  A cold, keen wind blows from the estuary and as always, I’m alone in this remote spot, the entire estuary north and east is set out below; it’s magnificent.  Miles of salt marsh dotted with thousands of glistening pools look like tiny jewels in the sunshine.  A few sheep graze on the emerald green meadow below, but thousands more dot the salty estuary.

I can’t come to this corner of Gower without remembering my old and dear friend William Wilkinson.  A real gentleman, William was knighted for his services to nature conservation.  He was Chairman of the Nature Conservancy Council and helped raise the profile of wildlife conservation in these islands at a critical time. His family still own the two cottages along the path below me, and his father’s grave is in the garden of one of them.  How well I remember happy times at dinner with William and his wife a generation ago; good wine and fellowship was always followed by plans about how we might save the world.  He lies in Cheriton churchyard.

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