Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pearls Discovered in Carmarthen Bay

Morfa Bychan, Gilman Point and Pendine Sands from the summit of Ragwen Point
I owe my Carmarthenshire colleagues a bit of an apology.  Well, more of a whopping big one, actually.  

I was preparing a map of the National Trust's Welsh coastal properties, to be used at future coastal events.  And here's the thing, I left out the little group of properties that look out over Carmarthen Bay.

In my defence, they are often overlooked, sitting as they are half way between the more famous and dramatic properties on the Gower peninsula and the Pembrokeshire coast.

But as I discovered today, they have a secluded charm all of their own, and as a result I would like to confess my appreciation of modesty as opposed to drama, when it comes to coastal places to visit.

The best things in life are often hard to find, and these little stretches of coast are no exception. 
They are concealed down ramsom-lined lanes, tucked into wooded valleys echoing with birdsong, secreted amongst brambly hillocks and nestled within unspoilt farmland where time passes at a more leisurely pace than the rest of the world.

But their beguiling modesty is deceptive.  They hold treasures that more boastful areas would trumpet about.   
At Morfa Bychan Ragwen beach, tucked in between craggy headlands a short distance west of Pendine, I discovered remains of bomb-blasted concrete walls that were built as part of the preparations for D-Day and said to have been visited by Winston Churchill.  

On Gilman Point, which once reverberated to the thunderous exhausts of ‘Babs’, during J. G. Thomas’ 1927 fatal land-speed record attempt, I traced the remains of a prehistoric hill fort and spied my first holly blue butterfly of the season, flitting amongst ivy flowers.

Later, at Mwche and Pentowyn near Llanybri, I looked across the Taf estuary at Dylan Thomas’ "timeless, mild, beguiling island of a town" and realised that the inspirational view from the Boathouse is actually protected by the National Trust.

And finally, after strolling through verdant timeless farmland as rich as cream, and through the unspoilt yard of the dairy farm at Lord’s Park, I gasped as I came upon a view as fine and expansive as any in Wales – the whole sweep of Carmarthen Bay from Worm’s Head to Caldey, with Somerset, Devon and Lundy in the distance.

So, where were the pearls I hear you ask? 

Well, someone recently said to me that the Trust’s Welsh coastal properties are like a string of pearls, and that my job is to try to thread them together.  As I got into the car for my long journey home, I pondered on the fact that although some of our pearls are big and world-famous, it is the smaller ones that are the true gems of our coast. 

Long may they remain overlooked. 

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