Tuesday, May 13, 2014

South Wales Day 1 - The sunset that never was

I was heading to South Wales for a few days of photography but I wasn’t in any rush, the forecast for the area, and the rain peppering the windows outside as I packed, meant there was no immediate hurry to get going.

Looking out from Dunraven Bay onto the Atlantic Ocean

So after pottering about and going for a coffee, I took a leisurely drive to the Vale of Glamorgan, and to the small village of Llangan, near Bridgend, where I would be staying for the next three days, overlooking the lush Welsh countryside.

After unpacking, and despite the weather, I was keen to get out and visit the Glamorgan Heritage Coastline. This rugged stretch of shoreline is unique on the Celtic Sea coast (Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Brittany). It was formed 200 million years ago when Wales lay underneath a warm, shallow, equatorial sea during the beginning of the Jurassic age.

All of which makes it rather attractive to look at, and of course photograph. Which is why I was there.

I headed to Southerndown, a small village on the coast, to visit its beach; Dunraven Bay, one of the largest in Glamorgan. A sandy stretch almost two kilometres in length, which looks out to the choppy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and bears the brunt of the fierce winds that persecute its shoreline. The conditions are actually ideal for creating shipwrecks, and this area has some of the highest shipwreck victims along the coast of Wales.

As I parked up, looking out to the dusky sea from the top of the cliffs, and exited the car, I got a face full of that Atlantic squall, and was in two minds whether to climb back inside for shelter. But that didn’t last long, I didn’t drive all the way there to look out at the sea from behind a windscreen. Besides, I hadn’t even brought a packed lunch, or a thermos of tea, so it really was out of the question.

Plus, as I looked out to the horizon, blooms of yellow light were beginning to form on the distant surf, as the sun started to reveal itself from behind the dense blanket of cloud that had been shrouding it all day. It looked like a decent sunset might be on the cards. I took out my camera, a tripod would have been useless in the pummelling wind, and took a stroll along the cliff edge, but not too close.

A quick display of evening light plays upon the ocean.
After getting a few shots, bracing myself against the sharp, solid gusts of Atlantic breath, as it rifled through my jacket, looking for any way in, the clouds soon reclaimed the evening light, and the blossoming pools of burnished sea were quickly extinguished.

But ever the optimist, I was sure it would reappear, so I drove to Ogmore by Sea, the village that marks the western limit to the Heritage Coast, and set up shop on the beach alongside the River Ogmore estuary, as it cut its wide path through the sandy shore.

Looking out from Ogmore by Sea over the estuary
and the coastline beyond 

Unfortunately, my hopes and dreams for the evening light were soon shattered on the rock strewn beach before me, as the light faded from cobalt blue to disappointing grey, while the wind continued its insistent harassment. So I packed up the gear and drove into Bridgend to pick up something for dinner. No doubt cheering up everyone in sight, I realised with some surprise once I’d got back to the cottage, thanks to the dazzling bouffant hairdo I’d managed to acquire from my time on the beach.

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