Saturday, 3 June 2017

Pentre Ifan, Nevern's Bleeding Yew and Seal-Spotting at Strumble Head

As we drove through Cardigan, I slowed the windscreen wipers from fast to medium speed. 'Phew!' we agreed, 'it's going to be a scorcher.' 

We had lunch in a pub in St Dogmaels and headed for Poppit Sands, a popular suggestion amongst friends for places to visit. 

Ted in particular appreciated this choice. 


We then headed inland towards the Preseli Hills, which I would have loved to have walked, had we had more time. 

We were headed for Pentre Ifan burial chamber, a fine example of a neolithic dolmen with a 16 tonne capstone.   

My go-to dolmen is Spinsters' Rock, west of Drewsteignton on Dartmoor. Pentre Ifan is bigger, higher, stonier, with views over the Nevern valley down to Cardigan Bay. 

What I'll remember always is the energy of the stones, familiar from Stonehenge yet so unknowable, and the strong, seductive scent of late may blossom.

Our next stop, another recommendation, was the Church of St Brynach in the village of Nevern.   

St Brynach's has several claims to fame, not least its impressive, 13' Celtic cross which dates from the tenth century.  

Even older is the Vitalianus stone, which is carved with the Latin words VITALIANI EMERTO and Vitaliani in Ogham. It's believed to date from the fifth century. 

There are more old stones inside the church, set into the window sills in the south transept. This is the Braided Cross, again from the early tenth century ... 

... and this is the Maglocunus stone, again from the fifth century, and inscribed MAGLOCUNI FILI CLUTORI in Latin and maglicunas maqi clutar in Ogham.

I love old churches because of what they can tell you about the lives of the people who built them and worshipped there. Sometimes, though, the mysteries simply deepen.







Increasingly, I find the sacred in nature rather than in church. Show me the fruit and I'll eat it. 

Which might be why I liked Nevern's famous bleeding yew best of all. 

NOT THAT I ATE ITS FRUIT ...


... just daubed myself with its sap. 



A quick drink in Fishguard and we drove out to Strumble Head, having been assured it was the wildest part of this coast. (I like wild.) I was hoping to spot choughs but the corvids available were resolutely jackdawian. 

I had to keep reminding myself that we weren't in Cornwall. Geographically, geologically, it seemed so familiar and yet I'd never been here before. 

We followed a path to the edge of the cliff ... 

... and in the small cove below us ... 

... were two grey seals, enjoying the last of the evening.










It was a privilege to share it with them for a time. 


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