Blowin’ in the wind

It was raining as we headed off to Rhossili. Grey clouds filled the sky but I could see they were moving quickly and over to the east there was a glimpse of sun and blue sky. With any luck, I thought, it would clear by the time we got there. And it did. At Rhossili, the rain had stopped and the sky was definitely lighter. We set off through the lanes to climb on to Rhossili Down. By the time we’d got half way up the wind had picked up to a point where it made walking against it hard. At the trig point, the wind was strong enough to unbalance me, and Rufus was being pushed sideways as he walked. All his fur, left to grow long for the cold weather, was blowing over to one side. When I faced the wind direction, it was hard to breath.

I love being on top of Rhossili Down. The view is spectacular for miles in every direction. Today I could see over to Llanelli and Pembrey. A rainbow hovered over the coast between Llanelli and Burry Port. The sun shone on the ridge of Cefn Bryn and the farm land around it, highlighting the fields and hedges. The same sunlight shone on the sea off Oxwich bay. It was rough and the sun reflected off the white water. Over the village of Rhossili, Worm’s Head was lit up by a shaft of sunlight to stand out against the darker see. White waves crashed up against its side.

We moved on, battered by the wind until we left the crest of the Down and dropped into the shelter of the col where the radar station was sited. This provided a welcome break from the cold and we stopped so I could take some photos. I could see surfers in the breakers on Rhossili beach and the waves looked good. You can see our route here.

On the way back, the wind was coming from the left, and I felt the cold in my left eye for some reason. Rufus was off chasing crows, who simply floated above him on the wind, just out of reach. Negotiating the slope down, which was slick with watery mud, was tricky but I managed it without falling. At the bottom, both of us were still feeling energetic so I decided that we’d drop down to the beach.

The path down to the beach leads through the site of the Medieval village of Rhossili, now lost to the sand. Humps and bumps in the ground, along with the occasional glimpse of stonework, indicates where the village was. A small stream flows through the area and is slowly eroding the earth bank away. A few years ago, several human bones were washed out of the earth as part of the early church graveyard was uncovered by the stream.

The beach was pretty much deserted. The occasional wind gusted across, blowing sand and spray along with it. In the breakers, one or two hardy surfers remained. The wind took the spray off the tops of the waves, blowing it back out to sea. A faint rainbow appeared each time this happened. Rufus and I walked along the base of the cliffs towards the surf. Sheep grazed on the hillside, in seemingly impossible places on near vertical strips of grass. We passed the wreck of a small ship nestles, sheltering, in the folds of the cliff and half buried in the sand.

At the water’s edge, it was very windy and I couldn’t tell whether the tide had turned and was coming in or not. Not wishing to be stranded, we turned back for the beach again and we headed on to the wreck of the Helvetia. I’ve been back to this many times over the years; it features in iconic images of Rhossili beach and I’ve snapped it myself loads of times. Today, as I took photos, we were both sandblasted by the wind as strong gusts blew along the beach.

It was getting cold and dark clouds looked as if they were heading in our direction, so we climbed up the earth bank near the little stream, and plodded our way back along the rough track to the car. I chatted to a couple of surfers who had spent the early morning in the sea. They said it had been a great morning but now the wind was up, it was getting harder to ride the waves.

Back home, Rufus decided to use me to help him dry off, and he fell asleep on my lap as we watched TV.

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