Pembrokeshire coast

The coastal grasslands and scrub and especially the earth banks that form the field boundaries are flower rich with a purple pink palette of thrift, thyme, English stonecrop kidney vetch and lesser centuary amongst the bracken, gorse and bell heather. The unimproved pastures are grazed by sheep and the better grasslands hold dairy cattle.

A handful of choughs are on the cliffs and barren slopes including a boisterous family of five; these are outnumbered by the great flocks of jackdaws and rooks that forage in the recently cut silage fields and pastures. A few rooks have learned to scavenge the beaches alongside the herring gulls; these and lesser black-backed gulls and a handful of fulmars constantly cruise the cliff tops; kestrels hover in the sea breeze and ravens cronk in the distance. But the real characters of the coastal path are the chattering stonechats, meadow pipits, whitethroats and linnets that are constantly interrupted by the many passers by. As summer draws on, the thick banks of thistles in which sheep find shelter from the westerly gales are turning to seed and glittering flocks of goldfinches rise on approach.

The glassy sea on high summer days gives the misleading impression of a coast of calm and ease. The remains of a large rusting, boat engine in a small bay at the bottom of a steep slope tells a different story; one of many lost battles in the storms that run in from the Atlantic. The great stone castles of Manorbier and Pembroke and the fine cathedral and adjacent Bishop’s Palace at St David’s speak silently of different conflicts between Welsh princes, Marcher lords and English kings. On a visit by Prince Charles, his personal standard for Wales taking precedence over the ‘red dragon passant on a green and white field‘, the old cathedral of dark stones is sunlit and peaceful with a small crowd gathered on the neatly cut grass. As we wait, the only noises are the squabbling jackdaws and the practicing choir.

Leave a Reply