Friday, 6 May 2011

Day Out in Pembrokeshire; St Govan's Chapel, Green Bridge, Rock Stacks

Yesterday the Farmer & I took a day off and went down to the south Pembrokeshire coast to visit St. Govan's Chapel which is tucked into the cliff near Castlemartin. This part of the Pembrokeshire coastline is owned by the MoD and is used as a firing range, and thank goodness it is, otherwise it would no doubt now be covered in St Govan's very own caravan parks, visitors centres and other monstrosities!
On previous occasions when we have gone down there it has been closed to the public, however yesterday we struck lucky. We were able to drive onto the range and walk along the cliffs and to the flight of little steps that leads to the chapel. It is an extraordinary place; a tiny stone-built single room with a well and stone altar. It is named after the hermit who lived there in the 6th century though the building itself is thought to be medieval. It was very damp and dark. It is wedged into a narrow angle in the cliff with steep rocky area leading down to sea and must have been miserable place to live, but then those early saints were stoics and needed few creature comforts. Did he live on sea birds eggs & seaweed do you think?
 I am not good with cliffs & caves and found the whole place rather unnerving. The Farmer however loved it and went off rock-hopping as is his wont, under the cliffs and exploring the geology of the cove. I took myself back up the narrow stairway onto the cliff top and had a lovely time looking at the profusion of wild flowers growing in the turf. I found rich magenta orchids and tiny yellow pimpernels, violets sedges and tiny blue squills.
When the Farmer returned to the top we walked westwards to what is called Huntsmans Leap and the grass all along the clifftop was a mass of squills creating a blue haze over the short cliff-top turf.
Legend has it that a huntsman jumped across the the gap between two parts of the cliff on his horse but on looking back to view the gap both he and the horse fell to their deaths. Looking at the distance involved it is impossible but makes a good story.
We next made our way further along the coast to the Green Bridge of Wales and Rock Stacks.
The Green Bridge is self-explantory being a fine example of erosion by  
sea & weather.
Rock Stacks, a collection of rocky stacks(!) off the cliffs is the home to the largest mainland breeding colony of guillemots in South Wales and was an amazing sight, thousands of birds crowded together on treacherous ledges on the cliffs and all over the tops of the stacks. There were not just guillemots but razorbills and seagulls with jackdaws mingling in the swirl of birds that was constantly flying around overhead. The noise was tremendous and downwind, the smell of guano was very certainly pungent.
For lunch we went to the excellent Stackpole Inn (http://www.stackpoleinn.co.uk/) in the very pretty village of Stackpole and had very good meal before heading west towards Fishguard and visiting some acquaintances on our way home.
Pembrokeshire was looking stunning even in the very welcome rain which fell in extemely localised showers...because we are needing it so badly at the moment we didn't mind that it rained on our day off and today it has rained properly here which is good, the grass will come on well now.

Before heading off down to Pembrokeshire we went and did our democratic duty and cast our votes in three elections. It seems that Plaid Cymru has held its seat in our constituency which is no surprise to anyone and we're still awaiting the results on the other elections.

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