Thursday, 16 March 2017

Dry Ford

Like most of the Norman churches on Gower, St Teilos’ at the head of the Bishopston Valley has a sturdy castellated tower. A neat black clock-face with golden painted hands and roman numerals tells me it’s just before one o’clock, but the hands don’t move. I wonder if they'll correct it for summer time.  There’s no great yew in the old churchyard, just a vast Wellingtonian dominating the church; I dread to think of the damage it could do to the beautiful old building in a big storm.

Two grotesques are missing from the sides of one of the church windows, but six remain, mostly in fine condition. I wonder at their meaning, but have no clue. Such a feature of old Gower churches, they add mystery to this place of worship shrouded in centuries of history.

There’s been no rain for at least two weeks, and the stream running in front of the church is bone dry; it’s fed from Fairwood Common, and comes and goes at this point depending on rainfall. There’s just a small murky pool below the parched old cobbled ford, and the wagtails that usually patrol this spot are nowhere to be seen. The path down the valley starts at the ford and follows the dry bed of the stream for a while, before disappearing underground, before emerging again down the valley. There's moss everywhere, and wild garlic decorates the green carpet underfoot. It’s a good two miles down through the valley to the beach at Pwll Du, but it’s cold, and I decide to head back to the tranquillity and shelter of the churchyard; summer’s the best time for this walk.

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