Taste of Gower Walk – Gower Heritage Centre

StillWalks will be joining this fourth Taste of Gower walk for 2016 at Gower Heritage Centre on the Gower Peninsula. I will be photographing the walk and carrying out some field recording. These will be displayed on the StillWalks blog a couple of weeks after the walk and before the next taste of Gower walk.

Gower Unearthed will also be joining walk leader Steve Lancing on this walk and they will be focusing on the area’s history and flora and after the walk, as with all the taste of Gower walks, the group will return the the Gower heritage Centre for refreshments with tea/coffee provided courtesy of Gower Landscape Partnership.

Natural Patterns

Almost back at Nicholaston Farm on the Taste of Gower walk from June, the footpath moves away from the cliffs and runs through this natural tunnel. Looking around me in this more enclosed environment I naturally discovered more details rather than the open vistas of clifftop views. The shots I have chosen below demonstrate natural structure in the tunnel, natural texture in the crinkled petals of the wildflower and natural pattern on the underside of some path side plants.

natural tunnel

natural tunnel

wildflower pattern

Natural Pattern

Natural Pattern

 

Beach Bottleneck

I photographed Oxwich beach at the start of my walk this week. The shape may be a little less obvious in the shot below but it still reveals a bottleneck form. If from this angle the shape is a bottleneck, then the third image in the sequence below could only be described as a wedge. The shape seemed obvious to me and is the reason for taking the photo but I wanted to emphasise it more and experimented with the contrast in monochrome.

Having enjoyed the overexposed beach image I posted from the previous Taste of Gower walk at Llanmadoc, I increased the exposure on the last photo below as well. With almost no reference points in the image, what is real becomes abstract.

Beach bottleneck

Beach Bottleneck

Sounds Down the Street

Having crossed the road on my walk this week I continued walking down the street and found myself enjoying the various sights and sounds much more than I would normally in an urban environment. This was because I was looking and listening to everything around me – I was focused on what could be seen and heard and not thinking about what had to be done that day or a forthcoming meeting, none of the things that are usually going through my head on a working day.

In the midst of a busy working day and what can seem like cacophonous activities or surroundings, we can take a rest just by changing our focus and paying attention to the intricacies of our local environment, outside or inside, urban or rural.

Walking down the street

The urban aural environment is obviously different to the rural – this is confirmed visually for me when I look at the spectral display for a sound clip like the one below. I am used to seeing the patterns of bird song in a sound clip and depending on the bird, these sounds show up at a range of different frequencies – the cries of the gulls in this clip are at a relatively low frequency. The highlights shown scattered across this spectral display create a quite different pattern and seemingly quite random – they are  the squeaks and squeals of vehicle brakes. Some of these, the highest pitched, are out of my hearing range these days, but it’s good to be able to see that they are there.

Walking Down the Street

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Sound clip spectral display

Sound clip spectral display – click to enlarge

Crossing to the Other Side

Crossing to the other side of the street on my walk this week revealed more natural life than it occurred to me I might find. This is a busy city centre street (or close to it) and the predominant features tend to be of man-made materials – concrete and metal, tarmac and bricks.

As I reached the point where the street I was on changes its name, I crossed to the other side and as I waited at the pedestrian crossing I noted some of the patterns around me and also the plants and flowers lining sections of the street.  The perspective of trees lining the extension of this street is a deliberate plan, but the plants and flowers (some would say weeds) in the forecourts (if they can be called that) of the buildings on this section of the street are there because that is what nature will do if you let it.

The owners of these buildings and businesses are clearly not concerned about this aspect of their working lives and from my point of view the growth of the wild flowers and grasses are a lot more attractive than concrete, but each to their own. At least the vegetation allows some natural drainage.

Street-side plants

Street-side plants

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Bright Yellow Buttercups – Reviewing the Walk

My walk this week started with the birth of an alpaca – a Spring / early Summertime event that was reflected in all that surrounded me on this walk, including these bright yellow buttercups on the banks of the lake at The Waterside. A place I will be visiting again next week so I guess I will get to see how the little ‘un is getting on and may even meet another newborn from what I have heard.

buttercups in the valley

buttercups in the valley

Listen to the soundscape and take a loo at the image sequence at the same time

The Waterside Walk Soundscape

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Wildflowers Down by The Waterside

While the drama of a new alpaca being born was going on “back at the ranch” (see yesterday’s post), I was enjoying a very peaceful stroll around the lake at The Waterside. While there is so much growth during this time of year, the specific time cycle of development is slightly different for each plant and many wildflowers and this will vary further according to the conditions from year to year and location to location.

So we see here in this hidden South Wales valley the foxgloves in full bloom but the thistle flowers just coming through, the dandelions seeding and the bullrushes getting ready to disperse their seed. There seems to be so much going on – as I have said in previous posts, nature has pounced!

Bullrushes by the lake

Bullrushes by the lake

Lakeside Birds

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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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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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Hidden in the Trees – Reviewing the Walk

The endpoint of my walk this week at Penllergare Valley Woods was the cafe at the northern end of the valley. The cafe was only developed in the last few years by The Penllergare Trust who are restoring the gardens to something t like their original state in Victorian times. Much of the work is done by volunteers and if you are interested in helping or becoming a friend, visit their website for details.

Penllergare Valley Woods cafe

Below I have selected some of the photos from my posts this week which you can view in sequence while listening to the soundscape of the walk. Click the play button and then the first thumbnail image to review the walk.

Penllergare Valley Woods Soundscape

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