Barring the Way and Reviewing the Walk

The sheep that accompanied me on the last stage of my walk were barred from continuing by the effective but simple design of a kissing gate and a cattle grid. My geology walk this week with geographer Geraint Owen and other walkers was both thoroughly enjoyable and informative. The walk was arranged by our local library and I imagine they may be involved again in the arrangements for a second outing to complete the walk route.

gate and route home

gate and route home

Geology Walk Soundscape

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Scratching the Surface

My walk this week followed the route of one of the geology walks described by Geraint Owen in Scratching the Surface leaflets. Geraint led a group of about 12 of us but we only managed to complete half the distance. The information he delivered at various stopping points along the footpath up Cefn Drum was fascinating and as a result slowed our progress.

Twyn Tile

Twyn Tyle from Cefn Drum

Had we continued on from the summit of Cefn Drum we would have reached the end of Twyn Tyle in the image above. The pattern of scars seen along the slopes of of the hill are old mine workings – closer shots can be seen below.

The full walk is estimated to take about 4 hours but when you take into account the interest of walkers in listening to the walk leader talking about the lie of the land and the make up of the ground beneath your feet, more time needs to be allowed. None of had brought a packed lunch so we decided to descend again and arrange a new date to complete the full circuit.

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Perspective on the Landscape

Looking across to the Gower Peninsula from Cefn Drum shows the Loughor Estuary and the dip of the rock strata made up of Pennant Sandstone on top with coal measures below, Carboniferous Limestone and lastly Old Red Sandstone. It is the Old Red Sandstone that forms the ridge of Cefn Bryn on the Gower and further north, the upland of Mynydd Du. Being on top of Cefn Drum we are right in between these two.

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

The sounds on top of Cefn Drum are typical of this landscape with a warm wind blowing from the south west and the skylarks entertaining us above.

On top of Cefn Drum

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Evidence of Plants

At the next stop on my walk this week the geology walkers took a closer look at the stones that made up the track under our feet. Geraint Owen showed us further examples of stones that revealed evidence of plant life.

Evidence of plant life

Evidence of plant life

Geraint also performed a simple test to prove whether some of the stones were limestone or not – the test was positive as can be seen by the fizzing acid on the surface. From this we were able to deduce that at least some of the stones making up the track had been brought in from elsewhere.

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Return Route – Reviewing the Walk

Looking back on my walk this week with the Taste of Gower group at Llanmadoc, we were very lucky with the weather. We saw both sunshine and clouds over the beautiful open space of the beach at Whitford Point with the old Victorian lighthouse not quite clear of the tide. Having said that, one of the main reasons we have such a green and luscious land in Wales is the amount of rainfall we get. It is less predictable where it is going to fall these days and looking again at the dark clouds and sun bleached beach, that is why I say we were so lucky not to be rained on until the end of the walk.

Country lane

return route

My soundscape for this walk is about the same length as usual (around 4 mins) but I could easily have made it twice that length or more. I may decide to produce a StillWalks video from the photos and sounds I have collected on this walk but it will have to wait in line with the others I have not yet post produced.

Llanmadoc Walk Soundscape

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Hunting for Snails

My walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers has taken in coastal burrows, expansive beach, woodland and now marshland. Emerging from the woods we came across three people sitting in the middle of the marshland, heads bent in concentration as they hunted for and counted a particular species of snail that was said to inhabit that stretch of land.

The weather was still dry at that stage of the walk but it wasn’t long before the rain reached us and we donned our coats. The last stretch of footpath took us back towards Llanmadoc and the excellent cafe where the organisers of these walks, the Gower Landscape Partnership, paid for the tea and cakes provided.

researchers

Many of the people joining these walks come from a broad range of disadvantaged and other “hard to reach” groups. If it weren’t for the support provided by organisations like the Gower Landscape Project, many of those people would never have the opportunity to get out and walk, appreciate, benefit from and enjoy the countryside so near to them and yet so far.

A significant part of the funding that allows this and many other organisation to provide these services comes from the EU and it is unrealistic to think that if the EU funding were lost as a result of the UK leaving, it would be replaced by our own government. The same can be said for the arts.

Underfoot

Moving up from the beach at Whitford Point my walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers meandered through the woods to continue this circular walk from Llanmadoc on the northern tip of the Gower Peninsula.

The ground underfoot was now mostly a soft carpet of pine needles and so for those walking barefoot (just one, not me), the transition from the sand of the beach would have been a relatively comfortable one. I was tempted to go barefoot myself, remembering the experience being described by Nan Shepherd and Robert MacFarlane in their books as one which puts you in contact with the ground (literally) in a way that walking in boots cannot, however sensitive and sympathetic you are to the land.

woodland path

Woodland Footpath

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Bleached Beach

When walking with a group and trying to do some photography and field recording at the same time, it is easy to end up rushing a bit and, as in this instance, forget to adjust the camera setting for the scene I’m wanting to capture. More often than not this results in useless images, but sometimes you get a happy accident.

When I first looked at this photo I thought “Whoops but wow! That’s just what it felt like at the time!”

The over exposure produced a bleached, white hot effect and when the sun was out this broad exposed hazy seascape felt just like this. I have included  a more correct exposure of the scene in the gallery below so you can compare.

Bleached Beach

Bleached Beach

As can be seen from the “Pergyl – Danger” notice, the area used to be a firing range and people are advised  not to touch anything they find as it may explode. One of the walkie talkies for the group was dropped on the beach during the walk and could not be found – I hope it doesn’t cause a scare for the person who finds it.

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