Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows

An unexpected bonus on the recent trip to Pembrokeshire was seeing the John Constable painting ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’. It was on display in the visitor centre at St Davids. In 2013 the painting was secured for the nation through a partnership of organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund, the Wolfson Foundation, The Manton Foundation and the Tate.

Salisbury Cathedral
The painting shows a turbulent sky and a rainbow above the cathedral, with horses and a cart crossing the River Avon

Via Wikipedia “Possible political meanings have been attributed to it, one of which being the clash of industrialization and nature represented through the clash of elements.

Some symbolism in this painting includes:

  • Grave marker: symbol of death
  • Ash tree: symbol of life
  • Church: symbol of faith and resurrection
  • Rainbow: symbol of renewed optimism”

During the 1990s a battle raged over the location of the controversial Salisbury bypass which would have impacted on the water meadows. In 1997 the Labour government abandoned the scheme but as with all proposed road schemes it might again reappear as the congestion in Salisbury still remains.

St David’s Cathedral – a big cathedral in a tiny city

On Saturday morning during a bout of heavy rain courtesy of Storm Katie we visited St David’s Cathefral in the tiny city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire. The Cathedral has had a long and difficult history.

A monastic community set up by St David was established in 645 and over the coming centuries was raided many times  by various attackers including the Vikings. In 1081 William the Conqueror visited and acknowledged its sacred nature. In 1181 work was begun on constructing the Cathedral. The Dissolution of the Monastries had a major impact on the Cathedral and the adjacent Bishop’s Palace when it was partially destroyed. In 1793 work was begun to restore the Cathedral and various projects have been carried out ever since. See here for the full details.

St David is the patron saint of Wales and the current Cathedral stands on the spot where he founded a Monastry. It is also believed that St David founded the Abbey at Glastonbury. More details on St David’s life here.

Here are a few photographs of the cathedral and its interior. Entry is free but you need to buy a photographic permit for £2.

St David's Cathedral 1
It is not the largest Cathedral but it is architecturally very fine even though only parts date back to Norman times.

St David's Cathedral 2
The organ

St David's Cathedral 3
Stained glass windows

St David's Cathedral 4
Candles at Easter

St David's Cathedral 5
Door to the organ

St David's Cathedral 6
Beautiful ceiling

St David's Cathedral 7
The other side of the organ

St David's Cathedral 8
Another amazing ceiling

I love visiting Cathedrals – some of the oldest architecture in the country.

Three beaches, some wild seas, islands and a harbour

Despite some pretty apocalyptic weather forecasts for the Easter period we have been pretty fortunate in Pembrokeshire National Park over the weekend. Here are a some photographs from the weekend of some fantastic beaches, some stormy sea shots, a couple of islands and an amazing harbour.

Freshwater West 1
This Freshwater West – a huge beach in south Pembrokeshire where some of the Harry Potter films were made.

Freshwater West 2Behind the beach is a huge sand dune complex – a National Trust site. Here we saw five chough.

Freshwater West 3We went body boarding here on Friday

Porth y RhawYesterday morning we walked from Nine Wells to Solva along the Coastal Footpath – this is Porth y Rhaw along with a wild sea

Below Morfa CommonMore wild coastline towards Solva – I could hardly stand in the wind taking this picture

Solva HarbourFinally arriving at the sheltered harbour at Solva – this used to be a port where you could get a passage to America for £4. The headland on the right hand side of the picture contains an Iron Age Hill Fort on the highest ground. On the way back we were met by a 30 minute hail storm which wasn’t a lot of fun!

Little HavenYesterday afternoon we we drove down the coast  – this is the beach at Little Haven.

Little Haven - Broad Haven beachFrom the point at Little Haven looking up another huge sandy beach to Broad Haven

Little Haven - Broad Haven beach 2Another view of the same place

SkomerLater in the  afternoon – in glorious sunshine and a stiff breeze we walked from Martin’s Haven near Marloes – this Skomer Island – the amazing and famous Wildlife Trust seabird reserve. (Two more chough here!)

SkokholmThis Skokholm Island – another really important seabird reserve also managed by the Wildlife Trust of West Wales

Gateholm IslandA little bit further east along the coast you come to Gateholm Island

Marloes Beach 3And finally you reach the awesome Marloes Sands – owned by the National Trust

Marloes Beach 2I bet you wish you were there yesterday?

Marloes Beach 1I’m really pleased we ventured out and weren’t intimidated by the weather forecast.

Still go a couple of Pembrokeshire blogs to write but today  I am off back to Devon. If you haven’t been to Pembrokeshire – it is magical and well worth a visit, a long weekend doesn’t do it justice but it will give you a flavour – luckily this was my 7th trip …..

Cromlech stones in Pembrokeshire

Yesterday was a wild, wet and windy day here in Pembrokeshire. Nevertheless we ventured out and went to see some of the National Park’s Cromlech Stones. These are Neolithic (New Stone Age) burial chambers which are around 5000 years old. They have various names around the UK – known also as Dolmen, Tolmen or Quiot Stones.

People of high importance would have been buried in such places. Few remain today.

Carreg Samson
This is Cerreg Sampson high on the headland above Abercastle – it sits in a heavily grazed cattle field looking out to sea. The body of the dead person was interned within a ring of stone which was then capped by the ‘table’ stone and then covered in earth. All have long since been plundered only leaving the table stone and some supporting stones. Carreg is the Welsh for Rock or Stone.

Carreg Coetan Arthur 1This is Carreg Coetan Arthur – near Newport east of Fishguard. Coetan may mean burial chamber or may be the word from which Quoit was derived.

Carreg Coetan Arthur 2It sits with a tiny enclosure above the estuary of the Afon Nyfer – as a result it has sadly lost its landscape context but is otherwise in good condition.

Coetan Arthur 3The final cromlech we visited was on St David’s Head and is managed by the National Trust. It has partially collapsed but is still set in its historic landscape. Interestingly it is called Coetan Arthur (and in some guides Carreg Coitan Arthur) and is therefore very easily confused with the previous Dolman Stone.

Coetan Arthur 2
Perfectly set within a magical land and sea scape which perhaps explains the use of Mythological / Biblical heroes to name them.

Coetan Arthur 1Finally the sun came out and we were treated to a rainbow above the Stone

DSCN8103The only surviving Dolmen Stone on Dartmoor is known as Spinster’s Rock near to Drewsteignton



A glorious walk around Stackpole in the sunshine

Am in Pembrokeshire for a couple of days and yesterday we had a walk around the National Trust’s Estate at Stackpole which is in the National Park.

Stackpole 12
We parked up and started the walk at Lodge Park

Stackpole 1Dropped down to Bosherton Lakes and walked across the 8 Arch Bridge

Stackpole 2After walking through Stackpole Park (which is now intensive farmland) we ended up at Stackpole Quay

Stackpole 5We walked around the coastal footpath and arrived at Barafundle Bay

Stackpole 6From there – up the path to Stackpole Head

Stackpole 7The cliffs are high and spectacular – if you enlarge this picture (double click) you can see two climbers just to the right of the top of the cave!

Stackpole 8Reminds me very much of the North Devon and North Cornwall coastline

Stackpole 9We then arrived at another sandy beach – Broad Haven

Stackpole 10Across Stackpole Warren and we are back at another arm of Bosherton Lakes

Stackpole 11View from the boathouse on the Lake and then back up to the car.

The walk is about 4-5 miles and has  amazing contrasts in scenery along its route.