It’s the sea that does it for me. I know I’m not alone in this, but after almost half a century living by its side, I can’t imagine a life inland. It’s not just any sea that’s the magnet; it’s these wild western coasts that have a special hold on me. There’s a feeling of mystery and awe about the Atlantic rollers as they crash against the rocks at The Knave below Horse Cliff. I rarely venture out to this remote spot in winter; there’s not much wildlife at this time of year and it’s usually too wild, windy and cold, but something in my soul draws me to what is one of the most beautiful Gower views. Looking west from Horse Cliff towards Worm’s Head has got to be a view that ranks with any in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to see the Grand Canyon and California’s Big Sur and many other grade 1 views; this certainly compares and is a secret shared only by a discerning few.
In winter it’s different; no soft green sward on the cliff top, just a flat rabbit-grazed light brown mat, with no sign of summer flowers. On the rocks below the sea boils, seeming not to bother the grey seals looking up at me with a puzzled gaze. There are sheep here, some grazing the only green bits of turf left in sheltered spots on what look like dangerous ledges. Rock pipits are just audible above the roar of the sea, and a flock of linnets keep low to the ground searching for seeds between scattered gorse bushes on the cliff top.
Out to sea, gulls commute east and west, and the usual shags sit drying wings on the rocks just south of The Knave. Under the cliff face fulmars, not long back from mid-Atlantic, gracefully patrol their breeding ledges, but don’t land. I realise that this wonderful place is as beautiful in winter as in high summer, but at this time of year the land is rich in shades of brown rather than green.