Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Welsh Stacks, Rocks and Cliffs

Having in my last post shown photos of the rocks on Manorbier beach, I am now introducing some of the neighbouring dramatic, rocky coastlines. During my stay, kind friends took me West to Castlemartin to see the incredible Stack Rocks. Unlike the Manorbier Old Red Sandstone, these two vertical stacks, eroded from the cliffs, are formed of Carboniferous Limestone and covered in exotic orange and yellow lichens- wonderful against the sea when it is blue or green:

As if their structure is not exciting enough, this being Spring, we were immediately aware of great activity and deafening screaming coming from the rocks....

Drawing closer, one realized...

that this- what you might call the icing on the cake- was the noise of literally thousands of Guillemots- together with some Kittiwakes- nesting both on the summits and on every ledge and cranny of the stacks. Unsurprisingly, they are known as the Ellegug Stacks, the Welsh name for Guillemots. Here one of the Guillemots appears to be staking his position of "I'm the king of the castle":

And if you look carefully, you will see more nesting birds camouflaged on the almost vertical slopes:

From another angle, black against the light, you are no longer aware of the stacks' bright lichens:

Close by the two stacks, is an archway connected to the cliffs which is known as the Green Bridge of Wales:

Alongside the bridge, this next stack, which must originally have been connected to it, is also the home of numerous Guillemots:

Not far from here is St Govan's Head. At the foot of a steep cliff, reached by steps, is a tiny chapel. This was built on the site where St Govan, an Irish monk, was miraculously saved from attacking pirates when a fissure in the rocks opened up to give him sanctuary. In gratitude, he lived there as a hermit until his death in 586, the chapel being built in the 13th Century. From the window, you can see yet more dramatic rock formations:

and more still from below the chapel:

These charming white Daisies grow in many cracks in the rocks:

I am now going East of Manorbier, to Lydstep. All along this coast there are coastal paths with wonderful, varied scenery:

These next, final cliffs are at Skrinkle, just a stones throw from Manorbier, with Caldey Island on the horizon. I am ending this visit to Manorbier here, as this was where my holiday began when I was taken there immediately after stepping off the train, on a beautiful, sunny May afternoon....

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