Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Boxing Day and Oxwich Bay

Christmas was spent in Swansea.  Boxing Day afternoon and we had an itch to get out.  At my suggestion we went to Oxwich Bay on the Gower Peninsular.  It was wonderfully atmospheric and remote-feeling; thick scudding clouds and white crested waves - everything else a variation of slate grey.  The beach is wide and sweeping between two headlands jutting out into the Bristol Channel.  Very beautiful and, for such a overcast day, popular. It's even more popular in summer.  It attracts surfers; there are watersports shops and a rather classy looking restaurant, 'The Coal House' on the beach.  (The Gower, especially The Mumbles, is a bit of a gastro hub these days.)  Behind the beach are great marshes, full of reeds and water which only enhance the feeling of isolation.
 The western headland - at the foot of which is the tiny, blink-and-you-miss-it, village of Oxwich - is covered in thick woodland - a 'hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping [invisible] down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishing boat-bobbing sea.'  And there past the hotel (rather ugly) and up a muddy track is the tiny church of St Illutyd in its cramped and crowded churchyard - all whitewashed and snuggled into the damp hillside.  The wide eaves of the slate roof - which spoils the church by not being graded - gives the St Illutyd's a rather Late Victorian, or early twentieth century feel, when it is in fact very ancient.  The present church, which is Medieval, stands on the site of a 6th century monastic settlement.  A remarkable, haunting place.

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