Saturday, 4 February 2017

Old Rectory

Even though there’s low cloud and a soft warm drizzle brushes my face, I can see for miles from the high spine of Rhosilli Down at the west end of Gower. The famous golden sands stretch out along the curved bay below, and on a clear day, I can see five counties from up here. This part of Gower gets little snow, and even during the recent extreme blizzards, only a little fell on these salty west-facing slopes. Often when much of the county is covered, west Gower is snow- free.

I pause briefly at an Ordnance Survey trig point. These stone-made truncated pyramids, once a feature of many high points in Britain, are gradually becoming redundant in the age of satellite communications. Although still used by some, they’re a vital ingredient in the production of the ever-improving OS maps, which delight walkers and country lovers alike.

 The National Trust owns the lonely old rectory perched on the raised beach below. Now an upmarket holiday let, it attracts rich visitors from across the world. I hear it costs an arm and a leg to stay there and is occupied throughout the year, and smoke from the chimney suggests that's right. I wonder if those inside are aware of the pair of choughs searching for insects on the closely cropped turf just outside the window, or the pair of displaying ravens, croaking high in the sky above the rectory.

I’m alone save for the company of sheep, airborne gulls, and waders on the beach far below. It’s such a contrast to the summer months when surfers and sun worshipers descend on the bay. Perhaps they don't know that now is the best time to be in this magical place.

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