Saturday, 4 November 2017

Set for Winter

Just a few golden-brown leaves hang on to the lower branches of chestnut trees now, beeches are almost bare, and oaks are well on the way to displaying their wonderful winter geometry.  In the deeper sheltered valleys, where recent winds failed to reach, only the tops of trees are void of leaves, whilst below the canopy it remains mostly green. West of the turn down to Oxwich Bay, the landscape is open and exposed, and here many trees are completely bare.  Away from the main road, water from the recent heavy rains runs off saturated fields, turning country lanes into rivers of racing leaves.  Patches of hedgerows are suddenly covered in old man’s beard, but the remains of this year’s bumper crop of blackberries are quickly shrivelling away.

Above the village of Llangennith there’s another world of golden brown. The bracken-covered moor at Tankey Lake is deserted at this time of year.  Green patches show where farmers have taken off winter fodder, and there seems to be no activity at the riding school at the distant farm.  Few tourists come here during winter months, and today’s whistling winds seems to have put off naturalists and even walkers. I see nobody.

There’s no one at the tables outside the Kings Head in Llangennith, and the only person I meet is a lone walker at the bottom of Vicarage Lane.  The howling westerly wind whips across the back of Rhosilli Down, keeping small birds low and out of sight, but doesn’t seem to bother a croaking raven high in the sky. It's unusual to see a single Raven; they pair for life, but I'm sure its mate somewhere near, perhaps choosing not to fly with such a strong wind blowing. This most westerly part of Gower feels set for winter.

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