Sunday, 4 June 2017

Water Voles

There’s no easy way to Pwll Du Bay. It’s a long walk down the Bishopston Valley, and even from the road at the top of the cliff, the path down to the beach can be difficult under foot. Whichever way I choose, the effort is always worthwhile. From the old bridge I look upstream for signs of water voles, they were common here years ago, but there are no telltale holes in the bank anymore. There may be some left on Gower, but I haven’t seen any for years.

Over the bridge, I turn right up the valley and head along the narrow path. It’s dark and sheltered here, the scent of wild garlic is overpowering, and the woodland floor is a mass of white flowers.  The small reed bed below is now mostly invaded by willows and will soon be no more. Not far from the bridge, the canopy opens a little, the sun lights half of the woodland, with the rest in shadow. A buzzard soars and calls above, birds sing, and there are more flowers. A male orange tip butterfly catches the sun, and in a moment it’s brilliant colours take my breath away.   Bluebells, nearly past their best now, send a delicate scent drifting in the air, mixing with the strong scent of garlic. The river bends again and will eventually disappear underground. The walk up the valley to the village is long and hard, so I make my way back to listen to the sea breaking on the only real storm beach on Gower. There are terns fishing offshore, unnoticed by the sunbathers taking in the sun, I wonder if they hear their exciting calls, but think not.

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