As the first rays of the sun rise above the trees, the frost begins to sparkle. Leaves painted silver, shine pink and green and the only sound is the weak winter song of robins. The countryside is in hibernation; there’s something very special about these crisp mornings away from modern life.
Ice makes walking up the steep hill to Penrice tricky, there’s virtually no heat from the sun and it’s very slippery underfoot; I turn into the lane towards Oxwich. Set by the side of the road high above the bay, Pitt Farm dates to the 17th century and has changed little since that time. The farmhouse and buildings feel timeless, giving a hint of life before the advent of mechanisation, when farmers drove their cattle to market on foot. In this bleak weather, its whitewashed walls blend into the morning’s frost and I can sense daily life in this remote spot three centuries ago.
It’s still a good half-mile to Oxwich and the beach, but the winding road down is too treacherous. I turn back and bear left towards Horton. Sanctuary Farm, with its sanctuary window still intact and once the property of The Knights of St John, is probably older than Pitt Farm. It sits in a hollow by the road. Smoke rises from its chimney and again I’m transported back centuries. Years ago, when the farm was for sale, we considered buying it. Rumours that it was haunted were reinforced when our dog refused to cross the threshold. It’s that kind of place.
Further along the lane at Hangman’s Cross, there’s nothing but the name to remind me of the poor unfortunates hanged for sheep stealing generations ago. I walk back to the church in Penrice village to find a group of visitors from England. They’re staying in one the holiday cottages set back from the green. I wonder if they’ll venture along the lanes and feel the way I did a few minutes ago.