Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Mewslade Spring

The lane leading from the main road down to the Mewslade Valley is under a tunnel of windswept trees, at last covered with the greens of spring. A whitethroat guards the gate at the end of the lane. Beyond on the cliffs, there’s a south-facing sheltered hollow where I often sit. From here high above the path, I look down the valley to the sea.  The well-trodden path meanders below, following the line of an old limestone wall, suggesting an ancient farm boundary. On either side of the valley, vibrant gorse cascades down as if painting the steep slopes. Beautiful emerging greens contrast with the yellow gorse; everything looks fresh and new, and at last spring has won the battle with the cold weather. It’s always best to look for wildlife from above the gorse, a long-tailed tit searches for insects for its nestlings in blackthorn, willow warblers, clearly en route north, catch flies on the wing and come so close at times, that I hear their bills snap tight. Swallows drift in from the sea and are gone in a flash; I marvel at their journey, and wonder where they’re heading.

Moles have been busy; their new mounds litter each side of the path, with old ones covered by last year’s grass.  Only a few trees survive in this wind-swept place, and those that do grow at crazy angles away from the prevailing weather. Young nettles sprout amongst glowing celandines, and the first clumps of foxglove leaves are out. 

Staying high above the valley the turf-covered path to the cliff top passes patches of recently burned gorse. Looking ugly now, they’ll recover in time, but it will be good for the land in the long term. Badgers have been busy overnight, their scrapes dotting both sides of the path.

From the top of the cliff, the beach and the massive cliff that is Lewis Castle send a shiver down my spine. Pristine sand, pure white surf, deep blue sea, and the uniquely coloured Gower limestone take my breath away. I walk west to Devil’s Truck, where years ago noisy kittiwakes bred. Long gone now, the ledges are occupied by just a single pair of herring gulls and a pair of fulmars. I sit and marvel at the fulmars; I could stay and watch them all day.

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