St Donats, recurring venue for Beyond The Border, sits right on the edge of the Glamorganshire coastline, and provides easy access to the clifftop path that winds its precarious way along the top of the cliffs. Back in 2007, when we camped at the festival, we walked along the path, but didn’t manage to snag any decent photos (it was the first of three pretty miserable summers here in South Wales … we’re certainly making up for it this year!). Last weekend, one week after the festival, we headed back down there, and had a great time ambling along in the peace and quiet of the Vale of Glamorgan countryside.
If you take kids with you out along the clifftop path, it isn’t just the sheer open drops down onto the hard rock shelves below that you need to be mindful of with them. There’s plenty of rusted barbed wire too along the path, perfect for snagging little horrors running riot along the otherwise peaceful path.
The funny thing about this important warning, if you know this path at all, is that the warning sign is on the seaward side of the wall. That’s right, in order to see the sign, you have to follow the path through the wall and out onto the cliffs. It isn’t as mad as it first seems; on the other side of the wall, the path ambles along cliff tops that have suffered from erosion that has claimed ever-increasing chunks of the wall itself over the years.
This is a path on the move, because it runs atop cliffs that are slowly but surely being claimed by the relentless tides of the Bristol Channel down below. There are countless reminders of this along the walk, such as old fence post pits, bits of wall that used to be joined up, and even bits of open cliff where the safety fence has now been lost. My favourite from all of these choices was this solitary fence post, which still has a bit of wire clinging to it like two trapped lovers waiting for rescue from the inevitable.
The clifftop path, to be honest, only rarely affords views along the coast, but when the breaks in the bushes and fences and walls come, the views are very pleasant indeed.
One such view is this one of St Donats itself, complete with sunbathers on the slipway if you view this image at full size.
The grass here is the kind that just invites you to lie down and let it swallow up all of your cares and troubles, even if just for a moment. Never mind that some of it is a peculiar blue colour, and that most of it is the wrong side of what looks like a possible fault line in the crumbling cliffside. Just give into temptation, and relax for a bit.
A little ways along, past the old (presumably World War 2) pillbox on the cliff, the path descends down into a little bay mostly walled off from the passing public. Behind the wall sits a house, and in the grounds of the house I spotted these trees creeping over the skyline.
Like nearly all of the bays along the Glamorganshire coast (the notable exception being Whitmore Bay at Barry Island) the bay that the clifftop path descended into is stony rather than sandy.
Whilst we were down in the bay, this Sea King search and rescue helicopter flew down the Bristol Channel (that’s England over there in the background, btw). This was the closest I could get to it with my 70-300mm lens.
I hope you enjoyed these photos. Don’t forget to check out my Beyond The Border 2010 photos too.
If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.