Thursday, 16 February 2017

Irish Mist

On old friend at university often told me that he loved to walk in the rain on the cliffs; not the heavy stuff, just warm west-coast drizzle.  He came from County Cork in Ireland and so I suppose had even more opportunity to do this than even here on the south west coast of Wales.  On days like this, I often think of Brian, put on some waterproofs, and get out.

It’s not cold, there’s no wind and a gentle rain drifts in from the sea as I head out across Port Eynon beach towards Sedgers Bank.  There’s always interest here, especially in winter, when waders and gulls feed on the exposed rocks at low water.  The ruins of the sixteenth century Salt House, now an ancient monument, was saved from the sea about twenty years ago.  It produced salt until the mid seventeenth century and is thought by some to have been a cover for smuggling.  It’s deserted today, save for a grey wagtail searching for food in the shelter of it’s old limestone walls.

Sedgers Bank is covered by the sea for most of the time, it’s owned by the Wildlife Trust and valued for it’s marine life and winter waders.  Too wet to linger and seek out elusive purple sandpipers, I turn westwards and head for Salt House Mere just a couple of hundred yards to the west.  Grey seals watch as I walk into the drizzle, and a few cormorants stand on rocks in the shelter of the headland hanging their wings out to dry.  On days like this it’s not really the wildlife that stands out, just the feel of living by the sea and touching the elements.

Overton Mere over the next rise beckons.  There’s still a long way to go before I’ll need to turn away for the sea, head up the cliff path and through Overton village to get back to the car.  I make haste passing the National Trust sign, knowing my supply of hot coffee is dwindling fast.  The weather can change so quickly in this maritime world. As is usually the case, Overton Mere is deserted and seems devoid of wildlife, but I know that when spring and summer arrive, its slopes will be alive with wild flowers.

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