Saturday, 14 January 2012

Stonechats and Scott of the Antarctic

We’re blessed with lovely little Norman churches here and one of the most beautiful is in the village of Rhosilli at the very end of the peninsular. The village, perched high over the Atlantic, seems to be defined by the old church with its centuries old stark, perpendicular tower, looking directly out to sea. But it’s not just the church that gives this place a special feel. Inside its cold limestone walls there’s a magic plaque on the north wall dedicated to the memory of Edgar Evans, who accompanied Captain Scott on his epic journey to the South Pole. Evans was a native of the village and will be particularly remembered this week, which marks the centenary of the day Scott and his team reached the Pole.

The mile-long walk from the village to the coastguard lookout passes old dry-stone walls, recently repaired and safe for another hundred years. To the north is the sweep of Rhosilli Bay, which is an icon of the Welsh landscape. Its three miles of golden sand shines bright in the winter sunshine and with no wind, the pastel-blue sea is like a millpond dotted with white specks of gulls and black lines of Common Scoters. A Raven stands sentinel on the cliff edge; others croak overhead signalling the beginning of breeding. I had hoped for an early Fulmar, but there are none; they’ll be here in a week or so to take possession of their traditional ledges. To the south of the stone walls is Rhosilli Vile, a medieval field system, where vegetables are still grown for local markets; it lies fallow now, but will soon begin its season. At the headland, Worm’s Head, an island at high water is majestic, alone and still. It dominates this ancient spot and merges perfectly the land and sea.

From the top of the cliff, I hear Oystercatchers on the shore below; many hundreds call, but are mostly invisible against the rocks and pools on the treacherous causeway. A lone Grey Seal slides beneath the still water and a Great Northern Diver seems to do well catching fish under the lea of the Worm. Turning for home a Stonechat perches on a gatepost to remind me that I’m privileged to live in such a truly beautiful place.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Derek and Chris.
    A very interesting post. Your photographs are wonderful.
    Thanks for visiting.