Hedgerows bursting with life border the quiet lane from Oxwich Green to Upper Slade. Bluebells, red campion, wood sorrel, buttercups, daisies, dandelions, cow parsley, herb robert and more, decorate the bright spring greens of ivy, nettles and hawthorn. In bright sunshine, and with little wind, my senses are alive to nature.
At the turning down to the tiny hamlet at Slade, the view over the sea is breathtaking. Lower down past the few immaculately kept dwellings, the path veers left along a narrow path above the sea. On limestone walls, and along the path, new plants appear; navelwort, lords and ladies, forget-me-nots, hart’s tongue ferns, ivy-leaved toadflax. There are butterflies too, small, large and green-veined whites, and wonderful male orange tips.
At the end of the path the view over Port Eynon Bay to Sedger’s Bank tells me it’s low tide. I can see for miles. All around, the cliffs are covered in carpets of bright gorse, and the sea is a patchwork quilt of greens and blues. Above the beach scalding whitethroats patrol the thin hedgerows bent with winter gales.
The sandy beach at Slade is a little gem, and is only there for a short time around low water. It’s deserted. Pure white surf rolls in from the glittering sea, pounding the sand and rocks and I have it all to myself. Walking east along the cliff path, a stonechat escorts me through his territory. I pass a small storm beach, with a bed of silver-grey pebbles and rocks, and above the high water mark, golden lichen surrounds patches of thrift, birdsfoot trefoil and kidney vetch.
I’m joined for lunch by a gannet, fishing close inshore, and am watched over by yet another male stonechat.