Lydstep Caverns and Lawrenny Quay

Sunday, September 10, 2017 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


P1110476 - Lydtsep Caverns
I’m slowly catching up with the last few months backlog whose very existence speaks volumes for quite how busy we’ve been and how many great days out we’ve had. Continuing in that vein the subject of this latest entry takes us back to the middle of August and a trip out west to Pembrokeshire. Originally we’d planned a day of kayaking and to that end had spent the previous evening studying OS maps searching for stretches of coast which looked particularly interesting. Pembrokeshire being the way it is there were no shortage of candidates but one, Lydstep, seemed to leap out above all others. Accessible from either Lydstep village itself or further along at Manorbier the promise of cliffs and caverns was too enticing to ignore but alas, the great British summer had other plans in mind.

Although we awoke to sunshine it was accompanied by a very strong wind which bordered on gale force at times and, after a quick check of the swell forecast, confirmed that we wouldn’t be hitting the water today. Time for plan B then which involved, rather imaginatively we thought, heading to Lydstep after all. Our thinking went that even if we’d be stuck on dry land cliffs and caverns would still be impressive and if nothing else we could use the day as a scoping trip for future adventures. So it was that a few hours later we found ourselves driving down what on the map at least was marked as a road but in person resembled more a farmer’s track. There was at least the hint of tarmac but we soldiered on, not sure if we’d arrive at a house or somewhere else entirely. In fact I was just considering turning around when a surprisingly large National Trust car park popped into view behind which the narrow entry to the caverns revealed itself. Following the path down we dropped steeply between high limestone cliffs, losing the wind but gaining a landscape surreal in the extreme. Before us stretched a small “beach” bounded by near vertical slabs of fractured rock punctuated with caves varying in size from football to cathedral like. To access them meant negotiating a boulder field which was equally as random producing a scene to which I genuinely have no comparison.

P1110491 - Lydtsep Caverns

What followed was a race against the incoming tide as we explored as much of this strange place as possible. It’s really hard to put into words my emotions as I poked my head into each cavern, a true sense of wonderment that this tiny little cove could be so packed with features yet have escaped my attention until now. Better to have found somewhere late than never at all however and I can definitely see us returning here again, both during a lower tide to explore on foot some of the caves further out and from the water for an entirely different perspective.

P1110469 - Lydtsep Caverns

P1110475 - Lydtsep Caverns

P1110476 - Lydtsep Caverns

P1110490 - Lydtsep Caverns

Eventually we did have to admit defeat and as the last of the beach fell to the encroaching tide we headed back up onto the headland. As with much of Pembrokeshire there were several Second World War remnants dotted about but it was the views which were most spectacular. The first image below looks back down onto the area of caves we’d just explored whilst the second and third is from the other side of the head, Lydstep village to our left and the monastic island of Caldey out front and centre.

P1110494 - Lydtsep Caverns

P1110516 - Caldaey Island

P1110519 - Looking over to Tenby

Sea passage was disappointingly quiet with just a couple of Gannets over the calm waters off Tenby whilst on land there were the usual assortment of Goldfinches, Stonechats and impressive numbers of Linnets. Given that at times we were struggling to stand against the wind it’s perhaps not surprising that photographic opportunities were limited but we did stumble upon this incredibly tame (juvenile?) Goldfinch. Although the bird looked healthy and was attempting to feed it made no attempt at flight and looked uncertain on its feet. Perhaps a casualty of getting caught off guard by the conditions but its prospects didn’t look too good.

P1110509 - Goldfinch

From Lydstep we headed inland to Lawrenny Quay, another new location for us. Situated on the banks of the Daugleddau it was a hive of activity thanks in no small part I’m sure to the small cafĂ© there whose menu looked mouth-watering. Having already eaten however we didn’t need to trouble our wallets with the freshly caught lobster, setting out instead through woodland on a walk along the river. The habitat, a mix of ancient trees growing on steep hillsides, put me in mind of Dinas in mid-Wales and with the Heather in flower and dappled sunlight it was a delightful place to be.

P1110524 - Lawrenny Quay Walk

P1110526 - Lawrenny Quay Walk

P1110529 - Lawrenny Quay Walk

We had company too in the form of a large mixed flock of Tits. The majority were Long-tailed but there were also Blue and Great mixed in plus, best of all, a Marsh Tit which stayed frustratingly behind cover until it moved and was instantly lost from view. Great to see though and that was followed up with a sizeable gathering of Mute Swans on the Garron estuary. Not rare by any stretch but then birds shouldn’t need to be for us to appreciate them just as much.

P1110536 - Lawrenny Quay Walk

Another common species but one we see far less often is the appropriately named Common Lizard of which we found four sunning themselves on a discarded section of  what looked like roofing tile. They scarpered as soon as they heard us approach but after sitting patiently for just a minute or so we were able to watch them crawl from the undergrowth and return.

P1110540 - Common Lizard

P1110546 - Common Lizard

And that pretty much rounded off our day as my planned explore of the old RNMD facility at Milford Haven was scuppered thanks to some very substantial and recently installed security measures. I had hoped to document the place before its torn down for redevelopment but alas it seems that opportunity is now lost. Even so we'd managed to find two new locations both of which delivered in terms of scenery, walking and wildlife. As I've said rather often of late, definitely worth a return visit.

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