Nash Point Circular

Walk of the month with Ian Bateman

We all have songs that remind us of a specific time and place in our lives, of a person or a relationship; and sometimes the feeling can be so strong and the memory so vivid, you could almost physically be transported back there. It’s the proverbial soundtrack of our lives.

With this in mind you may well be interested in a book released recently which examines this phenomenon, touching on the emotional aspect and the neuroscience underpinning it. It’s the personal experience of Loughor born and Gorseinon College alumni, music journalist Jude Rogers, in her book ‘The Sound of Being Human’. Now Jude has a serious pedigree. A freelancer, she contributes to some weighty publications, including the Times and Observer (but no bay Magazine though – ha, take that Jude Rogers!) and has inter-viewed some impressive ‘A’ listers, well, in fact, some living legends. For instance, Robert Plant greeted her in Welsh and made her a cup of tea, and Paul McCartney sang a bit of Hey Jude to her over the phone prior to their interview. I’ll just say that again. PAUL MCCARTNEY SANG HEY JUDE TO HER OVER THE PHONE! Fair play, Loughor girl done good.

Her book is a beautifully eloquent account of how and why music can have this powerful hold over us, to which we can all relate. Such is the importance that music has had in her life that a Spotify Playlist consisting of her significant tunes lasts for over 43 hours.

As an aside, Jude and I have a few things in common. Firstly, we were both taught by the great educator, wit and raconteur (and member of the successful Lamb and Flag quiz team ‘82-84) Jim Hockenhull, and secondly, Robert Plant also knows of my existence, but not, alas, in a good way.

PIC 1

I went to see him in concert in Carmarthen a few years ago and needed to use the facilities half way through a really quiet song; rather than cause a disturbance by leaving my middle row seat, I waited until the end. Unfortunately, I didn’t use the same logic on my return, arriving mid song, again a quiet little number, clattering into people in their seats, crashing into knees and kicking over drinks on the floor which didn’t go unnoticed by the great man. I might as well have been wearing a suit of pots and pans while playing ‘Donald Where’s Your Troosers’ on the bagpipes. ‘Thanks to the gentleman returning from the loo in the middle of that song’, he said, to which I acknowledged with an embarrassed smile.  The same voice that sang that immortal line, ‘Hey hey mama say the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove’, actually spoke directly to me, so despite the mortifying circumstances, I was still honoured in no small measure.

Anyway, back to Jude and by way of an example, the book starts with what was to prove a pivotal moment in her life. At only 5 years old and inspired by her music loving dad she was already a pop fan, and together they liked nothing more than the excitement of waiting for the weekly chart to be announced on Tuesday lunchtime, so they could discuss the new number one.

One cold winter’s morning, he prepared to leave the house to go into hospital for a routine operation to return home five days later. “Let me know who gets to No 1” he said as he turned to leave. Sadly, they were the last words she heard him say, as two days later he died at the tragically young age of 33 as a result of complications from the operation. Jude was never able to tell him that ‘Pipes of Peace’ by Paul McCartney had knocked ‘Only You’ by the Flying Pickets from the top spot, and those tunes, and in particular the latter, have been seared into her soul ever since. I’m sure I had a bit of grit in my eye when I read that.

But of course, music can remind us of happier times too, and the book goes on to share many more experiences as her life unfolded. So please indulge me as the playlist this month consists of some of my significant tunes. It’s a game you can play at home too.

So, to this month’s walk, it’s a circular 10 mile walk from Nash Point (pic 1) to Llantwit Major and back, covering a section of both the Glamorgan Heritage Coastal Path and also a bit of the Valley’s Heritage Trail.

Living in Swansea we tend to gravitate towards Gower or the Beacons for our walks, but there is so much more out there as this gem of a route testifies. With breathtaking cliff scenery, punctuated with cute inlets and bays with a variety of other points of religious and historical interest thrown in for good measure.

Start in the Nash Point car park just south of the village of Marcross, and head east towards the two lighthouses you can see to the left. Enter the grounds through a gap in the wall and carry on the coast path until you reach the beach at Llantwit Major. The lighthouses (Pic 2, shows the first one you approach) were built between 1831 and 1832 in response to a series of disasters on the nearby Nash Sands, culminating in an awful tragedy when the ship, The Frolic, came to grief in the dangerous seas killing over 70 people on board. The eastern and taller light-house (3) is still in operation although now totally automated having been the last manned lighthouse in Wales up until 1998. The grounds here have been designated a Site of Specific Scientific Interest on account of finding the rare Tuberous Thistle in 1977. Across the water the north Somerset coast is almost in touching distance and you can just pick out in all its gory whiteness, the pavilion at Butlin’s Minehead.

The view to the left is generally flat farmland (4), not the stereotypically mountainous landscape you’d associate with Wales, a landscape about 200m above sea level that was formed when the area was part of the sea floor itself.

The cliffs along here are particularly interesting. They expose the varying layers of limestone and mudstone, sedimentary rocks that were laid down about 200 million years ago in the Jurassic period and perfectly shown at Nash Point at the start. Some serious erosion has occurred along here and is obviously ongoing which has resulted in the cliff face retreating inland. SO BE CAREFUL – DON’T GO TOO CLOSE TO THE EDGE.

Onwards (pic 5) then and soon you’ll descend onto the jetty of Atlantic College (7, more of this later) and then further on to Tresilian Bay (8), which has a decidedly Pwll Du vibe about it. Of course, the term ‘Jurassic’ usually conjures up thoughts of two things – dinosaurs and fossils. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to find any prehistoric beasts here, but you might be lucky to find some fossils just like I did as the photograph attests (6). It was in a rather obvious position on the beach, so I’m not even convinced it wasn’t planted there, but still, to my untutored eye it looked pretty genuine.

Cross the pebbled beach and up the other side of the bay; carry on (9 & 10) until you come to Llantwit Major beach which appears down to your right (11), but you take the tarmac path to the left which heads inland. After a short while, the town will come into view and once you go through a gate (12) with a farm on your right, keep an eye out for a path again to your right alongside a domestic garage with a black panelled door (13). Take this path until it emerges onto a road (14) and then go left, taking care as you do as you will encount-er traffic. A little way along, go left down Flanders Road and as it veers left, go straight up an inclined path which looks like access to a farm (15), and then right after about 50 yards up a series of steps (16) which leads you into a field. Go straight on heading for the white cottages (17) ahead and to the right, passing a curious building on your left which is an ancient dovecote (18). You will return to this field once you have visited the town. Exit the field over a wall at the top right corner and then left down a road which leads you into Llantwit Major.

Llantwit Major is an interesting place on several levels and a town with two very contrasting looks. You’ve got the old town (pic 19), with narrow winding streets packed with ancient buildings dating back centuries, centred around the beautifully picturesque church of St Illtyds (20), nestling in a sheltered hollow, almost Cotswoldsesque. Then you’ve got the new bit, mid 60s I’d say, which includes a small shopping precinct, which, I’m afraid to report looks like it was designed and built by the same people who created Stevenage. The contrast is quite bizarre. Picture Killay shopping precinct in the middle of Stow in the Wold and you will get the picture. John Betjeman wouldn’t be happy I’m sure.

20

Historically and religiously it’s of some significance. There’s evidence that there was an Iron Age settlement here and it was certainly occupied by the Romans. But more importantly, it’s one of the earliest Christian sites in the whole of the UK, gaining fame as a centre of learning after a monastery was established, inspired by the Celtic saint St Illtyd after whom the town was named (in Welsh it’s Llanilltud Fawr). Such was its importance in early Christianity, it is regarded on the same level as Glastonbury and Old Sarum, and from here pupils would travel around the country, spreading the Christian faith including it is thought, St David.

Return (pic 21) to the field (22) and exit it at the far right corner, keeping the  dovecote on your right. On exiting (23), ignore the path immediately to you right, but take the next path on the right between the hedgerows (24). This is known as Church Lane (25) on the map. You’ll then enter a wheat field (26) and go left, leaving the field over a wall, down a gully towards the sea (27) where you re-join the coast path turning right. Back into Trevilian Bay (28), up the other side and as the path flattens out, there’ll be a row of trees ahead of you; take the path to the right (29) and in front of them.

Go straight ahead with playing fields on the right until you come to a main road (30), where you go left, taking great care as there’ll be traffic. You’ll come to the entrance of the Atlantic College, but carry on until you come to a second entrance (31) which is slightly hidden in a bend in the road over your left shoulder. Better known in the past as St Donat’s Castle it is now an international 6th form college. Famously, it was formerly owned by the American newspaper baron, William Randolph Hearst, who bought it in the 1920s but sold it after running into financial difficulties in the ‘30s, having only visited it a few times. More money than bloody sense, as my late mother would say.

Turn into the college grounds as it’s a public right of way, passing student accommodation as you de-scend towards St Donat’s church (32). The path to look out for will be on the right at the bottom of the hill and through the trees, but it’s worth just carrying on a short distance to take a look at the church (33).

So, back to the signposted path which will now be on your left, which ascends through the trees emerging onto a track bearing left at the fork (34). At a junction in the paths turn left then immediate right carrying on up until you come to a farm. About 50 yards ahead take the path left into a wheat field and alongside a barn that looks like it’s being re-built (35), keeping the stone wall on your right.

After about 200 yards or so exit the field on the right through a gap in the wall (36) and straight ahead on an obvious path through the wheat (if it hasn’t been harvested, obvs), heading towards a barn straight ahead. Leave this field over a very unsafe stile, so be careful, and aim for a gate about 100 yards dead opposite. Turn right after the gate, along a slightly overgrown tarmac path, through another gate and straight ahead on the road in front (37).

After 150 yards or so take the signposted path to the left into a field and bear right towards about 2 o’clock heading for the corner of the hedge of the neighbouring field (38). Once reaching here you leave the field via a stone stile to the right and into another wheat field and basically follow the perimeter hedge keeping it close to your right, making sure you don’t disturb the crop. You’re heading for a copse ahead leaving the field just to the right of here, joining a path which leads you to the road in Marcross. Turn left and there’s a short walk back to the car park.

So, the reason I mentioned Jude’s book and chose this particular walk, is that whenever I hear ‘In the Summertime’, by Mungo Jerry, it transports me back to the summer of 1970, the very first time I came here. So see, it’s a thing.

Start & Finish: Nash Point Car Park (£3 charge)

Distance: 10 miles approx

Map: OS170

Grade: Moderate

Dogs: On lead at all times

Climbs: Nothing significant

Refreshments: Cafe at start and at Llantwit Major

Duration: 3-4 hours

 

PLAYLIST: (Not Exhaustive)

The Tornadoes – Telstar – Visiting Father Xmas downstairs in the Co-op

The Beatles – She Loves You – Older sisters introducing me to the Fabs

Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime – Nash Point 1970

The Archies – Sugar Sugar – J4 Martin St School

Dave and Ansell Collins – Double Barrel – School Cruise on the SS Nevasa

Dave Edmunds – I Hear you Knocking – Saturday Morning Disco, Top Rank

CCS – Tap Turns on the Water – 1st Year Comp

Michael Jackson – Got to be There – Pentrepoeth Youth Club

Cockney Rebel – Make me Smile – School disco (involved snogging)

Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again? – Camping Llangennith Summer 1974

Steely Dan – Kid Charlemagne – 6th Form and Silver Jubilee party 1977

Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever – Ditto

Blondie – One Way or Another – 1st Year University

Billy Joel – Uptown Girl – Martha’s Vineyard Club 1980s

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