The caravan had it’s first outing of the year, though we didn’t travel far, but then we didn’t need to. The forecast was for wall to wall sunshine and we stopped at Llengennech just outside Llanelli for a walk along the Loughor Estuary. Not many words this time – thank goodness for that say some. Just some pictures which I hope conveys the beauty of estuaries and the life giving force of Spring.
We started the walk on the east bank of the estuary near the road bridge crossing over from Loughor. We knew we had joined the walk as we crossed over a wooden bridge to the path that follows the bank of the estuary flanked on both sides with sea marsh. Though the northerly wind was strong, and didn’t let up, the sunshine signalled spring has arrived. The hedgerows was sparkling with the pure white small flowers of the Backthorn.
The marshlands, though not pretty are beautiful in their own way. the flat expanse provide a wide horizon, emphasising that although this are is close to Llanelli and the industrial might of the old tinworks, nature can quickly reclaim control. As along much of South Wales, and in common with any estuary the tide range is impressive. When the tide goes out, it goes out a long way!
Almost everywhere we looked we came across Greylag Geese feeding on the grass just above the high water mark.
The warmth of the sun had also brought out the Bumble Bees. We saw a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, searching out potential nesting sites. And a Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum foraging among the Salix flowers now emerging. This is relatively new immigrant and is spreading northwards throughout the UK. But one of my favourites remains the Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascuorum, which come sin a variety of browns and ginger colours. You are likely to find this in your garden.
As we continued along the path towards Llanelli the landscape began to change and we left behind the Marsha and mudbanks and the estuary opened up before up exposing a wide expanse of sand. Somewhere out there, beyond the Whiteford Point Lighthouse, is the sea!
Almost every step we made reconfirmed that Spring had arrived. Growing through the shingle just above the strand line was a large colony of Colt’s Foot, Tussilago farfara. This is easy to recognise as they dazzle with their bright yellow Dandelion like flowers before the leaves emerge.
Even the seemingly empty tidal shore seemed to want to get into the act. The small, tower like casts of Ragworm (Hediste diversicolor) had created a temporary city scape while the tide was out. This will be wiped out by the next tide, only to be rebuilt time and time again.
While we were happily munching our way through our lunch on the beach a flash of colour caught my eye and there was a Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) basking on the sand next to us. Yet another confirmation of spring.
Ok so we didn’t cover too much of the path at 5 miles, but to be fair as we walked 5 miles there and 5 miles back it wasn’t too bad. And then to cap it all after seeing Little Egrets in the distance throughput the day, all too far to photograph, the rising tide was pushing all the waders up the shore and I got a reasonable photograph.
All in all a good day out, and culminated in an ice cream. What better way way is there to finish a walk?