Alpacas Looking On

Having crossed the first couple of fields on my walk this week with the Taste of Gower walkers at Weobley Castle, we came upon one with three very curious and stylish looking alpacas. I am familiar with the curiosity of alpacas from my visits to The Waterside, but these three were no less entertaining for that.

Alpacas

The Taste of Gower walks are well organised and usually have three walk leaders making sure that everyone is accounted for. As the organiser of the walks, Steve Lancey was sharing his lead with both mid-group and back markers and though trailing a bit at times in order to do some field recording, I managed to remain close to the slower members of the group.

Gates, Wind and Walking

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The Ground Underfoot and a Second Source

Walking with the Living Taff group, our mini expedition to find the two sources of the River Taff, or Afon Taf, on the slopes of Pen y Fan and Corn Du in the Brecon Beacons, we took a short cut across open grassland to the second and larger source of the river, the Taf Fawr.

“Fawr” meaning big, the source was indeed larger than the previous one round the other side of the mountain, but the river at this stage of its life is still quite small as you would expect.

grass in the Brecon Beacons

Walking through the dry, scratchy, springy grass was a very pleasant sensation. We listened to the sound of our footsteps and thought about its texture and colour and the peacefulness of this part of our walk.

I managed to record a small snippet of this part of our walk and whilst the soft murmur of voices from the rest of the group is still in the background, there is also the gentle flow of this youngest stage of the river accompanied by the flow of a warm breeze through the grass and across the shoulder of the hill. We had enjoyed the skylarks too but at the point of recording, they had decided to keep quiet.

Taf Fawr

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Room with a View

Looking round a gnoll on the hill I have been walking up this week revealed this (bath)room with a view of the hills beyond.

Stone and brick construction is not the only element of ruin – the trees here are very exposed to the wind and quite a few of them have fallen under the pressure. Nature will have its way though and the ruins have been well colonised by the roots of plants and trees fighting against both natural and man-made elements.

More images from this walk can be seen on Instagram and/or the StillWalks Facebook page and Twitter.

Bath with a view

Rhosilli Bay

The turning point for my walk along the ridge of Rhosilli Down was a promontory at the western end from which a spectacular view across Rhosilli Bay towards Tenby which was well and truly hidden in the haze – a haze which was fast becoming mist.

It was a good spot to stop and eat my sandwiches and the sounds of wind and sea were only disturbed by a jet fighter on exercise against the horizon – listen to the sound clips below.

Rhosilli Bay

Rhosilli Bay

Blustery Wind

Walking and Flying

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Rhosilli Bay aircraft

Blown in the Wind

While many trees, if not all, can show the direction of the prevailing wind, I think these hardy specimens may have more to challenge them than  those in places of greater shelter. They make wonderful sculptures and although it’s certainly not the first time I have photographed trees like these, they never loose their interest for me.

Crossing back over the fields to return to the starting point of my walk this week, the mist never really lifted, not properly, and the damp atmosphere continued to hang in the air but without the wind suggested by the trees.

Trees in Mist

Windblown Tree in Mist

Tangled Wood

Wild Weather Walkers and Reviewing the Week 46

Reaching the end of my wild and windy walk between Southgate and Three Cliffs on the South Gower coast, like these other two intrepid weather walkers, I was huddled over and protecting my camera against the rain.

I have not created a full StillWalks video of this walk using a mixture of still images and video because I am not a great fan of hand held video and I have not had the time. However, the sequence of photos and the sound clip below can be viewed at the same time and if you are interested in the video I took on my iPhone during the walk, this can also be viewed at the end of this post.

Mixing video and stills is something I will continue to experiment with for StillWalks and if I can find the time I will probably work further with this walk in this way. In the meantime I hope you can enjoy all that I have posted this week and don’t end up too breathless or blown off your seat!

walkers

Wild Wind

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When playing the video I recommend you click the HD and full screen buttons.

Waves of Grey and Lack of Light

The waves breaking on the South Gower coast near Southgate may not be the huge breakers that can be seen on some coastlines around the world, but I wouldn’t fancy falling in there on a day like this!

In writing this post about my walk between Southgate and Three Cliffs Bay on this wild and windy day, I realised that I had made the third image monotone. The strength of colour in our surroundings comes from reflected light and as there is so little light on a day like this, there is consequently very little obvious colour. In reality of course there is colour and even in the sea, if you focus your attention, there is a range of subtle colours to be seen. The trouble is that in weather like this the inclination to stand still and observe intently is rather weak and the sensation instead, is that the day is dark, the wind is wild, the rain is wet and it is time to get back inside, not linger too long on the edge of the cliffs however many colours there may or may not be.

And so I headed back to the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop at Southgate for another cuppa and to calm the wind that had been blasting my brain for the last hour or two.

waves

waves

waves

Sculpted by the Wind

This visual evidence of the prevailing wind on the South Gower coast with its effect on the hawthorn trees produces wonderful natural sculptures typical of Britain’s coastline.  There are probably not many trees like the hawthorn or blackthorn with their ability to survive and thrive in the rugged conditions that come with the Autumn and Winter seasons here.

That’s not say that we have particularly harsh winters, but they still have to cope with the strong winds and sea salty air and I know plenty of other species of tree that do not welcome this sort of situation at all. I love these trees and I also love the equally hardy whin or gorse and, in this case, their silhouette against the dark grey horizon line of sea and sky.

windblown hawthorn

windblown hawthorn

Whin at Three Cliffs Bay

Blown Away at the Point of Return

This was the point the group reached on the Taste of Gower walk at Southgate. Looking over the edge to Three Cliffs Bay, it was disappointing not to go any further but the wind was very wild and this was causing difficulty for some in the group.

Having gone out again on my own afterwards, this was again the point I reached with my cameras and sound kit before deciding to turn back. I may have found the wind exhilarating but the rain which had started to blow in from the sea was less so.

All of the photos taken on this outing are rather grainy and in some cases they were a bit blurred. Considering the weather conditions, even if I had taken my tripod I would not have faired any better – it would simply have been blown away just as I was on one or two occasions!

Below is another short sound clip from my walk. For those of you with an interest in these things, the strength of the wind is evident in this clip recorded with my RODE NTG-3 shotgun mic with a Blimp windshield and dead cat fluffy cover onto a Fostex FR-2LE.

Wild Wind at Southgate 2

Wild Wind at Southgate 2

waves

Walkers at Three Cliffs Bay

Taste of Gower - Southgate-23

There and Back Again – My Walk this Week 9

If my walk last week was peaceful and calm, this weeks walk is quite the opposite! Another Taste of Gower walk organised by Mike Aspland and the Swansea Walking Forum with the support of Gower Landscapes Partnership, this walk along the cliffs at Southgate was bit windy to say the least.

We walked far enough to look down on Three Cliffs Bay (not far) but at that point the leaders decided to turn back. The weather was very wild and as some in the group were struggling with it, it was the right decision and we all headed back to the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop.

In fact some of us took another short walk in the opposite direction and I decided that after eating another great lunch at the cafe, I would venture out again with my recorder and cameras. So I will be able to post about this walk through the coming week as intended – I hope it blows you away – sorry about the pun 😉

Listen below is a short sound clip of the wind.

Wild Wind at Southgate

Wild Wind at Southgate

walking on Gower