Tudor Walls and a Sheep Rescue

In the true tradition of all good stories, I’ll keep you guessing about the title until the end.

Time for a nice long walk today – the weather forecast was looking good and I’d had an idea to drive down to Angle in Pembrokeshire to walk part of the coastal path there. I’ve been there before, but a number of years ago, and I remember it as a beautiful part of the coast. So off we went in the car and just over 90 minutes later, we were parking in the sunny, hot car park of Angle Bay.

It’s been a while since I’ve strapped a back pack on so it felt a little odd. Then I draped the more familiar camera bag and water bottle over me and we were ready to go. Rufus was characteristically unencumbered – something we’ve discussed before and something he’s always successfully argued against. Although there was a strong wind, the sun was out and it was much warmer than I expected. As we left the beach and entered a sheltered field, the wind died down and it became more like a summer’s day. I’m always careful to watch Rufus as he heats up quickly. Today was no exception and I made sure he drank as often as possible.

Rufus is a fussy drinker; when he feels like it, he will drink and drink. But if the slightest scent, aroma, movement or other distraction occurs, it immediately assumes the priority. Today he drank sensibly.

At the top of the field, we were on the cliffs and plenty of signs warned of the crumbling, eroded nature of the rocks. This area was a significant part of the military defences of Milford Haven, a natural deep water harbour and we soon saw the first sign this. Below us on the slope was the remains of a searchlight emplacement. There were gun batteries, observation posts and searchlight houses all along this part of the coast, and on the opposite coast around a mile away. Milford Haven was heavily defended.

The next ruin took us back to Tudor times. In 1539, Henry VIII had a number of block houses built around the coast to protect the strategic ports against attack by the French or Spanish (or both). Here, the remains of a watch tower belonging to his Eastern Block House stands on the edge of the cliff. It won’t last much longer as coastal erosion undercuts it. It was reused during WW1 and WW2 as an observation point, as the brick repaired wall shows. Opposite this post lies Mill Bay, where Henry Tudor landed with a force of French mercenaries in 1485. A couple of weeks later, he had gathered about him an army of men loyal to his cause from Pembrokeshire and beyond, and had met and defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. He became King Henry VII.

We wandered on, passing the WW1&2 gun emplacements for now and walking along the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Swallows swooped and dived above us and gulls hung stationary in updrafts. The sea was a Mediterranean turquoise, breaking against the cliffs with bright white waves. The gorse was in bloom – a carpet of yellow flowers that we walked alongside (neither of us like their needles). We stopped for a drink and a snack at a smaller gun emplacement standing alone, and then dropped down into a gully carved by a small stream and no doubt helped by the endless battering of the sea.

Up on the other side we surprised some sheep, who were content to stare while chewing on their grass as we went by. A little further round the corner, Rufus caught a scent and led me off the path to the cliff edge. As we were so close and the cliffs were dodgy, I had him on the lead. I’m glad I did, because he was staring at the two ears of a small rabbit hiding in a hollow right on the edge of the cliff. Had he been able, Rufus would have run over and I don’t know what state that part of the cliff was in. I raised my camera and zoomed in to the rabbit – which wasn’t a rabbit at all, but a fox cub. I took a few photos and dragged Rufus away so that we didn’t disturb it more than we already had.

A stile stopped us and we turned back. We passed the fox hole but there was no sign of it. Neither were the sheep we’d encountered earlier, but at the top of the gully we saw the last of them trying to get through a wire fence. Unfortunately, it’s curved horn had got caught in the wire and it was struggling to escape. I could see it wouldn’t succeed, and it was beginning to panic with us being there. So I tied Rufus up to a fence post out of sight and went to try and help. The sheep was trying to get away from me and in doing so, tightening the wire. Luckily it wasn’t barbed otherwise there would have been a nasty┬áinjury. But I couldn’t leave it there as the horn was curved right around and the wire was well inside the curve.

In order to get enough slack on the wire, the sheep had to move back towards me but it wouldn’t. I accidentally poked it and it rolled towards me. So I poked it again, rather like tickling someone in the ribs, and it squirmed enough that the wire went slack enough and I managed to pull it over the horn. One happy sheep trotted off to it’s sisters and within second had forgotten all about it’s ordeal. I trotted back to Rufus who was working hard to pull the fence post I’d tied him to over.

At the lone gun emplacement, we stopped and had lunch. Rufus was surprised when I produced a bowl of his favourite crunchy food but he didn’t let that stop him devouring the lot. It was nice in the sun and while I sat and enjoyed the view, Rufus walked around the concrete wall of the circular gun pit. He was very happy to have a path all to himself. We took a couple of selfies and headed on to the main coastal gun battery. This was built in the early 20th Century and in it’s history had big guns (9.2″) and small guns (6pdr) and everything in between. By WW1 it was falling out of favour and the big guns were moved elsewhere. Smaller guns were brought in but the site was mainly used for training. Similarly in WW2 the guns were transported to a site near Penarth and the battery was used for training. It was finally decommissioned in 1945, when all the weapons were removed. Strangely, the ammunition wasn’t removed for another three years.

The last leg of the walk was back across two open fields and down to the beach car park. We were buzzed by swallows again and on the opposite side of the beach, a group of students were studying the geology of the bay. Had the tide not been so far out, I would have taken Rufus for a paddle. Instead, he had a long drink and we set off for home.

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Still in Clyne d too.

In a gap in the cloud in the morning we set off for Clyne woods again. I wasn’t sure when the rain was going to start, so we set off prepared to turn back at any time.

After yesterday’s deluge, the path was even more muddy than I had expected and while I spent time stepping between puddles, ducking under low branches and generally ensuring I didn’t slip off the path into the river, Rufus plodded on completely oblivious to my problems.

Instead of rain, though, the sun broke through the clouds and the leaves and brighten up the little valley. It seemed to stimulate the birds as well as me because their singing increased and I saw a lot more flying around and scouring the ground for grubs and other food. Two blackbirds let Rufus walk right up to them and he was a little surprised and didn’t know what to do. They flew off with Rufus watching but not chasing.

We came across a junction of paths; each one looked as muddy as the next. Next to one of the paths was a cutting into rock and at the end of this was a small cave. The cutting was clearly man made, it seemed as if the cave was too. It didn’t look as if it led anywhere but there was a lot of debris on the floor. Above it, we took a path the led eventually to the fields we were skirting. Not wishing to cut the walk short, we headed back down the the river and followed it around to the tunnel, where we rejoined the cycle path.

On the way back tot he car we were passed by several cyclists, none of whom seemed to have even the simplest bell to warn us that they were coming. With the wind and birds singing, its sometimes hard to hear a bike approaching, and although I had Rufus in the lead because of this, there is still the potential for an accident. Cyclists – get a bell and use it.

We were soon back at the car and still fairly dry. It was time to head home for second breakfast and second coffee.

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Floody hell!

Off to a Christmas party near Ewenny. Took the short cut down a country lane. The flood sign should have given us a clue but we are recent 4×4 owners so we thought it would be an adventure. Sure enough, at the low point on the road where it meets a stream, there was a vast expanse of water. But we could see the road markings through the water and we drove slowly. We made it without having to swim.

Then, cresting the narrow hump back bridge, we spotted ahead another vast expanse of water, making the first one look like a small puddle. The river was raging beneath the bridge and beyond, the fields were flooded. It was impossible to tell where the field ended and the road began, apart from the fence and road signs.

Needless to say, we turned around and used the main road.

All day while driving, I’ve seen so much standing water. And I couldn’t help noticing that everywhere the water has been, there have been blocked drains. In the village where my friend lives, the drains are completed silted up, causing a river of run off from the fields all around to flow past her front door. On the roads into the village, so much water is running along the gutters that it was spouting out of the drain covers like small fountains.

And in June, we will have a hosepipe ban again.

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