From liquid smooth through crusty and tatty to razor sharp, the range of textures I spotted on my walk along Swansea canal was wide, to say nothing of the colour and pattern, light and shade that created a natural art exhibition for me.
The water of the canal may have reflected the colour in the sky on this beautiful morning, but it certainly did not reflect the texture of the barbed wire fence round the Mond Nickel Works.
And there was pattern to be seen in the reflection of light from the water under one of the bridges and a very crusty texture on the pipe structures also crossing the canal.
Since visiting various sections of Swansea Canal a couple of years ago, I have meant to return to the section which runs through Clydach, just a few miles from Swansea in South Wales. Finally getting a convenient opportunity, I took one of my cameras and my small recorder and though of my walk as a recce for a StillWalks production in the future.
My walk this week illustrates this recce walk – where necessary I used my iPhone with its wider angle lens.
The walk starts by the canal where it meets a loop of the River Tawe. However, the first shot below shows the water of the canal flowing into the Clydach river before it joins the Tawe on the other side of the canal and flows on down to Swansea.
My optimism for a bright day at the start of this hill walk up Graig Fawr meant I was taken by surprise when, as I arrived on the upper reaches of the hill, snow started falling behind me from the west.
I turned to see the clouds fast approaching and the whole atmosphere of the landscape changed. Fortunately it didn’t last long, but even so, I was reminded that this is what you have to watch out for in a landscape like this.
The Mawr uplands may not be very high or large in scale in comparison to many other places, but that does not mean you can’t get disorientated. However well I think I know the place, I would always treat it with respect. It was on a bright sunny day in Summer when I misread the landmarks up here. This didn’t cause a problem but it did mean that we took a different route to that intended.
My nearest landmark, in the form of the triangulation point, was in view through the snow and as it turned out, I only had to wait ten minutes for the sun to came out again and allow me to view the falling rain on the far side of Cwm Dulais.
Graig Fawr (pronounced Grige (with both “g”s hard) and Vower (as in power) and translates from the Welsh, more or less, as “big rock”)) . . . and before I forget, Happy St David’s Day from Wales 🙂
My walk up Graig Fawr soon brought me to a few things that seem to me to typify this particular area of my local uplands, the western edge of The Mawr (remember the “Fawr” pronunciation), the upland area north of Swansea.
One is the solitary tree and another is the bracken. There are large areas of bracken on the side of Graig Fawr and its companion hill, Cefn Drum (pronounced with a hard “C” and the “f” as a “v” and Drum is pronounced Drim). The colours and textures of the bracken are always there and now and then you will spot a single small tree growing out of its midst.
I have taken a number of photographs of these “icons” in different conditions and certainly the light is always different, but today the bracken had a particularly strong red tinge to its brown in some areas where it lay with the morning frost gradually thawing.
And then there was this water system manhole! I am not sure what the underground workings of this system are, but this access point with the slab of concrete and a glass jar laying on top of it and the concrete signage made me think of a grave with its headstone and the last flowers that were left in a jar, now disappeared.
The word “recognition” has two senses to it and they are both relevant to this post and my walk through Swansea Marina. Firstly, I recognise, in particular the old pump house on the left, the Seamen’s Chapel (Mission Gallery – see below) on the right and, most significantly to me, the building in which my wife and I had a studio which looked out over the marina as it changed from disused docks to the flourishing Maritime Quarter.
Recognition can also mean an acknowledgement of remembrance and in the photos below you will see black flags flying from some of the boats. Their ragged appearance has a haunting effect in amongst all the masts and rigging. My assumption is that they were there in recognition of David Bowie’s death a week earlier. That was just over a month ago now – R.I.P. David Bowie, I have enjoyed your music throughout my life.
Swansea Marina has two locks to allow boats access to both the River Tawe and the harbour entrance at the river mouth. Walking from one end to the other provides many opportunities to stop and gaze at the movement of lock gates, water, people and boats.
There is (must be) a patience in the people living here and using the the marina. Whether a walker or a sailor, if you are waiting to cross or go through the lock gates, the mechanism being heavy and slow to operate, means that time slows down and there is no option but to accept it.
The gulls in the last photograph below look as though they have mastered this patient outlook on life as they appear to spectate the relative inactivity in the marina on this day where the sheltered aspect of their position means the greatest movement is in the rhythmical ripples in the water.
The weather may not have been great for my walk through Swansea Marina but there was still plenty of activity in the place. I enjoyed standing a while leaning against the railings and listening to the banter of those on the fishing boats, watching the rowing practice and looking at the jewels and beads of water on the bundled fishing nets as they spilled out of their harbour side containers.
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My walk this week takes me through Swansea’s Martime Quarter once more There were several gatherings of birds, all apparently waiting for something. They had look-outs making use of the security cameras and other high points around the docks and locks of the marina, but the misty weather was significantly limiting visibility.
Looking inland towards Kilvey Hill, but without being able to see it, a riverside apartment block was also partly obscured by the sand dunes at the top of the beach. None of the architecture of the SA1 area could be clearly seen but the mist and dampness gave a distinctive atmosphere to the place and so I enjoyed doing my photography and having my walk in spite of the weather.