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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Friday 6 October 2023

Early October at Southerndown and Llantwit Major

Another day, another rail strike. (Solidarity.) Faced with the prospect of two round trips from Bristol to Cardiff through heavy traffic, I decided to spend the day with the dog on the Glamorgan coast instead, and having dropped The Northerner at work, set off for Southerndown, which I last visited 40-odd years ago.  

It was high tide when we arrived, so we walked up through Slade Wood and across several fields to the edge of the village of Southerndown. 

On the way we saw this tree, which appears to be flourishing despite clearly having fallen some time ago ... 

... plus these intriguingly wind-warped whitethorns.

Our route involved several stiles ...

... and a bent old kissing gate (always more picturesque than the modern variety) ...

... although this  newer one wins the prize for best tune.

The return leg of our short walk took us along the cliff edge, with views along to Porthcawl ... 

... and ahead to the cove of Southerndown, which also goes by the name of Dunraven Bay. Poor Cwtch was kept firmly on the lead in case she tried to chase a seagull over the cliff edge.

Meanwhile, across the rain-squally Bristol Channel, the coast of Exmoor.

En route I found these young puff balls, but decided to leave them for someone else to have a fine breakfast once they'd grown a bit bigger.

As we descended to the car park, you could see Dunraven hill fort on the opposite cliff and so-called Dunraven Castle, which is really just a manor house that was castellated in the 19th century. 

Cwtch and I decided against labouring up the long flight of steps to the fort and set off for our second destination, Llantwit Major. Having last visited - inadvertently - at the end of May, during the summer dog ban, I was looking forward to letting Cwtch run on the beach, but just three days into the season of the dog, there were diggers on the beach and it didn't feel safe to let her run. Instead we climbed up the steps up the cliff to Castle Ditches Camp, a second iron-age hill fort.

From here, we could see the lighthouse at Nash Point, where I walked with Son the Younger, his then dog, Lucy, and my old collie, Ted, back in 2018. 

The coast path took us up and down over the ramparts of the fort and then along the edge of a large arable field. 

After a while we turned inland, passing a large piece of farm machinery surrounded by sunflowers, and some sheep, at which Cwtch directed a hard stare. 

At this point we had to make a sizeable detour as our path was blocked by a load of sheep and a lorry, and we ended up in some hellscape of mock wooden cabins. We eventually found a way out and back down to the sea, following a footpath that ran alongside the little River Col-huw. All the whitethorns that were still just blossoming back at the end of May were now clotted with berries, with dashes of white provided by Old Man's Beard.

Back at the beach, we walked out a little way on the limestone pavements the receding tide had uncovered, steering well clear of the cliffs, which don't look all that stable. 

A shower of rain forced us into the car for the last hour of our stay, much to Cwtch's disgruntlement, then back to Cardiff and the eventual drive home.

Another day our in Wales brought to you by the RMT union and ASLEF, but a far better and cheaper prospect than spending twice as long sitting in heavy traffic. I hope they get a resolution soon. 

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