Pembrokeshire – Take Two-and-a-bit

The sun continues to shine and we keep doing holiday stuff. We brought the electric tandem with us but it looks as though it is going to stay in the car. I have swum twice at Caerfai, twice at Newgale and once at Abereiddy, but we also took a couple of boat trips, firstly around Ramsey Island, where, amongst other things, we saw Manx shearwaters flying in, ready to visit their burrows on Skomer Island.

It’s worth spending a bit of time mentioning Manx shearwaters. Apparently 360000 breeding pairs, something like 90% of the world’s population, return to Skomer every spring where each pair raises a solitary chick. The adults spend all day, once the chick is hatched, flying out over the Atlantic to gather food and each bird covers about 200 miles per day. They return under the cover of darkness in order to avoid the predators, feed the chick, and before first light, off they go again.The RSPB ring a lot of the young, and it seems that the oldest Manx shearwater recorded was 58 years old. The warden reckoned that bird flew over 5,000,000 miles in its lifetime.

Once the chicks are sufficiently developed, the adults just abandon them, leave them in their burrows and fly to the South Atlantic. The chicks flap their wings a bit for a few days and once they feel up to it their first flight is a non-stop trip, also to the south Atlantic. An amazing species.

Apart from boats, nature and swimming (Jan hasn’t swum. She prefers to remain fully dressed whilst either painting a picture or doing things with wool) we have done a few more holidayish things. We visited a woollen mill on the river Solfach, spent an hour or two in St. David’s Cathedral and eaten some very fine food.

Today I had three swims, two at Nolton Haven and one at Druidston. Given what a marvellous beach it is, I rather regret never having been to the Druidston beach before. The cliffs are superb, with a variety of rock types, the sand is fine and golden, there are plenty of rock pools and there is no nearby car park, so there are few people who use it. We were told by a young couple who had been there all day that there was some drama during the morning as there had been a fairly significant rock fall and another couple were that close that they were fortunate not to be injured. So it seems like quite a good idea not to sit immediately under the cliffs.

This impressive phenomenon is the tidal surge between Ramsey Island and the mainland at a reef of rocks known as The Bitches, possibly so named because they have presented such a danger to shipping over the years. They act as a barrage, creating a very impressive tidal weir, which of course changes direction at every slack water. The water drops about a metre at peak tidal flow.

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