Browse content similar to Cardiff to St David's. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Out there is the Bristol Channel and on the far side, England.
And that can only mean that this is South Wales!
I'm heading towards Cardiff and then travelling to the far west and legendary Pembrokeshire!
Along this journey,
I want to discover how the union of land, sea and people
has created communities which cling to this spectacular coastline.
On my mission, I'll be joined by the usual team.
Mark discovers how a city was founded on precious metal.
Isn't that brilliant?!
Alice goes Welsh mining...
21st century style.
-Miranda joins an extraordinary community of dolphins.
And Nick encounters the engineers whose mind-blowing construction
is right in the middle of our only coastal national park.
I meet a beach racing record breaker that's risen from the grave!
It's like a big child's toy or a cartoon of a car!
This time, I'm travelling from Cardiff
along along the South Coast of Wales to Britain's smallest city
at St David's head.
My first stop's over there - a capital city by the sea.
When you think about it, every capital city
in the British Isles flirts with the sea.
And it's no coincidence, because in every case,
it's the sea that's been the great provider.
In fact, it's been the life blood!
Cardiff is no different.
Its coal port transformed a little town into Wales's premier city.
Now, that community's reinventing itself at break-neck speed.
It's no surprise to find it's all happening around the old docks.
These days, the city's welders don't repair ships, they sculpt metal!
Nia Jones is part of the capital's renaissance.
A new community, springing up around the marina.
How much of this cityscape is new?
Well, I think over the past few years, it's really developed.
The latest addition is this fantastic senate building where the Welsh Assembly now is housed.
Do you approve of what's happening here?
I love it!
Every time you come here, every few months, there's something new -
a new restaurant, a new bar, a new art gallery opening,
-so it's a very exciting place to be at the moment.
-What is the draw?
Why is everyone coming from within the city down to former docks?
Because of this!
Look at the view!
What's on view is the new marina,
controversial because it's remodelled the environment.
The trick's been to trap water in the bay.
It used to be tidal, so twice a day,
it was just mud flats - good for birds, but bad for boats.
The big idea was to build this £220 million S-shaped barrage.
It holds water in the bay 24 hrs a day.
To get out the open water, you have to negotiate this massive sea lock.
It's really quite unnerving being in here. It's like being in an elevator.
And when you look at those shut gates,
there are uncountable millions of tonnes of water
pressed up against that gate.
Cardiff's transformed itself into a gated community.
The inconvenient tide, tamed by concrete and steel.
Beyond the barrier, it's easy to see
why so many of the Welsh love to be beside this sea.
Over half the population of Wales live along its southern shoreline.
A host of communities cling to this coast.
Some are thriving, others are hanging on.
Barry's beaches are often empty these days,
but once miners, and their families poured down the Valleys en masse,
until they hit the sea.
Mining wasn't just a job, it was a way of life.
They would work, rest and play together.
The annual trips organised by the pits,
and the Sunday schools of chapel and church,
were the highlight of the year.
Over 50 years ago, Jane Ward didn't come to the beach alone,
her whole village came too.
-Hi, Neil, how are you?
What's with the giant numbers on the wall?
Well, when we used to come, people arranged to meet on the beach.
Then we would say we would arrive at different times.
We would meet at a certain number.
So, is either of these two children you?
Brilliant. How did you get here from the Valleys?
By train, steam train.
That would be exciting in itself.
It was, yes. If you can imagine now, we were 250 Sunday School children,
a mass exodus from the village.
So you travelled together and you colonised one patch of beach and you stayed together?
More or less. Yes, the majority would try to get together.
Plus, there'd be others on the beach before,
so we couldn't get all together.
Those that could get together would stay together. Family, friends.
And in the course of the afternoon,
we'd start singing our choruses from Sunday school
and one would start and another group would join in
and before long, you'd have the whole beach singing!
After a day of sea, sand and community singing,
they were ready for all the fun of the fair.
Without the crowds, it's a more solitary pleasure.
It's no job for a grown man!
Barry's glory days of group holidays may be gone,
but there's still some fun to be had.
Heading west, impressive 180ft limestone cliffs
separate the land from sea.
Along the cliff tops are the faint impressions
of defensive walls built here over 2,000 years ago.
These earthworks are all that's left
of fortified farmsteads from an Iron Age community.
Patterns on the beach show the cliffs' losing battle.
Relentless storms are eroding the coast
at a rate of one metre every 10 years.
In a couple of centuries,
there'll be nothing left of these ancient settlements.
Coastal communities wax and wane.
On a promontory on the edge of Porthcawl is Trecco Bay.
It's proving so popular
that it's become the UK's biggest caravan park.
So, what is the attraction
of an immobile home in this makeshift city by the sea?
I'm Billy Miller, and I live on the caravan site there and I love it there.
Billy was once known as Mad Billy Miller!
I usually sit down and have a drink with a lot of my friends.
People get to know you.
It's home from home, it's better than being home.
Once, Billy was a mercenary and travelled the world.
Then he found Trecco Bay.
I went to sea, then I kept on moving until I was 41.
Africa, everywhere, you know, I just kept going.
I made a lot of money, spent it.
Had a good time, had good nights, lost a few, but not to worry!
I love being here and I love the neighbours I've got.
And I've got the sea.
I got that, and that's wonderful.
I've retired here, if you like.
I live here ten months of the year.
I intend to stay here as long as possible. I love it.
When is a beach not a beach?
At Porthcawl, it's not such a silly question.
In the 1980s, when the sea began to seriously batter the sea wall,
Porthcawl's council decided to strengthen the defences
by covering the rocks and pebbles in bitumen.
What a bright idea(!)
And they didn't stop there.
Oh no, they came up with the cunning wheeze
of covering the whole lot in sand and thereby extending the beach,
but of course, the sea just kept on washing the sand away
so what you're left with is a world's first -
the only man-made, tarmac beach!
Tarmacking the beach, I can't see it catching on,
but who knows?
Nature's not the only one shifting sand around our coast.
The yellow stuff's big business.
Alice Roberts is in search of the "sandmen".
Britain's booming building industry
is having a hidden effect on our coast.
Projects like the second Severn crossing
and the Cardiff Bay development use vast quantities of concrete.
And for that, you need sand.
Once upon a time, the Welsh mined coal.
These days, it's sand they're after, lots of it.
85% of the sand we use is taken from the sea bed.
I'm going to find out what effect that's having.
I'm in the Bristol Channel and we're heading out to Nash Bank,
which is about five miles off the coast of South Wales.
And I'm going to get on that dredger.
I've watched these ships going up and down the Bristol Channel since I was a kid,
but I've never been on one, so I'm quite excited.
The Arco Dart spends 360 days a year
dredging up sand and pebbles from the sea bed.
-Hello, Alice. Good morning.
-Mick Forster, master of the Arco Dart. Welcome on board.
Want to come over?
It's Mick Forster's job to position his ship precisely over a sand bank.
Can you dredge anywhere in the Bristol Channel?
No. We're restricted to what we call dredging areas.
We're only allowed to load on licensed areas.
-So does this blue streak here represent a bank of sand?
This is where we're heading for, called the Nash Dredging Ground.
The sea bed is owned by the Crown
and every tonne of aggregate taken has to be paid for.
The Nash Bank is eight miles long and a mile wide. That's a lot of sand!
The dredger's basically an enormous vacuum cleaner.
1,300 tonnes of aggregate are sucked up this tube every two hours.
As it's pumped aboard, it gets graded.
Sand for cement, gravel for gardens.
The dredging companies are required to do detailed surveys
to measure the effect of their operations on the local environment.
This is a chart of the sea bed, it shows the bank very clearly.
The Nash Bank itself is this area here.
As you take sand out from this area,
is it being replenished?
You must remember that there are no renewable sources of sand,
just like oil, there's no renewable sources of oil.
You just must use those resources carefully.
The sand in Nash Bank was made in the last Ice Age.
If the visibility of the water was better,
you'd be able to see that the sand lies on the sea bed
in remarkable, 20-metre-high waves,
gradually being eaten away by dredging.
Since the 1920s, one fifth of the Nash Bank has already been consumed
and it will never be replaced.
We may not be taking precious sand directly from our beaches,
but some worry that dredging sandbanks
unleashes the power of the sea to erode the beaches away.
Can you be absolutely sure that if you remove the sand down here,
it's not going to have an effect on the coastline?
These beaches have been changing for thousands of years,
they've been coming and going.
Yet we see a change perhaps in a decade,
and we think it's important, but actually, it isn't.
That change has been occurring over many hundreds of years.
Whatever the effect of dredging,
one thing is for sure. Sand is a finite resource.
Once it's gone, it's gone for good.
But if we want to use sand for our buildings and gravel for our gardens,
we've got to get it from somewhere.
The steelworks at Port Talbot
is the first sign of a metal-working tradition
that's carried on here for generations.
Its roots lie around the bay in Swansea.
The town was nicknamed Copperopolis
because an amazing two thirds of the world's copper
was once produced there.
Mark Horton's looking to uncover the story of the city's metal monopoly.
I'm here to discover an alchemist's ancient secret
that once made Swansea the copper capital of the world.
Open it at the bottom, close it at the top.
Eddie Daughton is an experimental archaeologist.
This is rather fun, isn't it?
Erm, to start with!
We're using 4,000-year-old methods
to rediscover the magic of turning rock into metal.
The Welsh knew the secret and Eddie thinks he's cracked it.
First, we have to get the fire hot enough,
and it's not as easy as it looks.
So if you want to stop bellowing.
Phew! That was exhausting!
So, what's the recipe to make copper?
For this furnace, it's about 10 kilograms of charcoal...
..half a kilogram of copper ore...
..a little tiny bit of iron stone,
..and we should end up making a quarter of a kilogram of copper.
Maybe not quite that much.
So what you're saying is you need 10 times as much fuel - carbon -
-to make the copper than the copper ore itself.
-So that explains why Swansea's here...
-..masses of coal!
Masses of carbon.
Put together copper ore with coal to make the metal,
and the sea to transport it and you get a winning formula!
-Do you think this is going to work?
I'm deeply sceptical.
It's so simple! Believe!
As Swansea's metal workers mastered the art of copper extraction,
a city grew from primitive beginnings
into a scene of Satanic industry.
By the late-18th century, the whole of the Tawe Valley was filled smelters.
The works operated day and night, producing sulphurous fumes,
so horrendous that downwind, the land is still toxic to this day.
These docks were built to expand the trade still further.
200 years ago, Swansea's copper was in demand.
Who was after it? The Royal Navy.
Hello, Mark! I saw you on the telly.
David Jenkins knows the story of the city's copper-bottomed deal with Nelson's Navy.
This is an ingot of pure copper, as would have been produced in Swansea.
This is pure copper?
That is pure, pure copper, the essential product.
What did they need it for in the 19th century?
Well, the main use of copper was this.
This is what gave Nelson's Navy massive tactical advantages.
-It's a sheet of copper ore
from the hull of HMS Victory.
You can see here "Vivian and Sons, Swansea."
I can see a number, 2802.
That's right, copper ore and obviously copper itself was very, very valuable,
but its value was not so much monetary as tactical.
Indeed, the manoeuvring that took place before the Battle of Trafalgar
owed a great deal of its success
to the fact that Nelson's ships had this on their bottoms.
And it means that no weeds grow on the hull of your ship,
the water slips much more quickly over the hull,
and therefore it gives the ship excellent manoeuvrability.
Swansea's dominance of the world copper trade
meant the Royal Navy had copper-bottomed boats, but the French didn't...
..a tactical advantage that can be traced back 4,000 years
to those prehistoric Welsh experiments in metallurgy.
Now, have we managed to rediscover the secrets of their success?
Do I have to carry on pumping?
-Carry on pumping!
-God, you must be stiff by now.
-Just a bit.
-Do you think you've got copper?
-I think so.
I hope so, but I'm not giving any guarantees.
All right, I'm gonna stop pumping.
OK, stop pumping. Get round the other side with a stick.
Isn't that fantastic?
It's probably frozen by now.
I can probably pick that up with the tongs. That is copper.
-A small ingot of copper.
-A small lump of copper.
It's absolutely incredible when you think of that energy and that effort
that's gone into winning a metal.
Copper poured out of Swansea, but it became a victim of its own success.
The industry exhausted the domestic copper supply.
To feed the voracious smelters,
the precious ore had to be shipped in
from further and further overseas.
Swansea mariner's became known as Cape Horners,
so-called because they repeatedly braved the treacherous seas south of Cape Horn.
Many never came back.
The Falkland Islands were the nearest shelter,
and Swansea's abandoned copper ships are still rotting there.
Eventually, the copper communities of Swansea disintegrated.
As workers emigrated to the ore-producing countries,
their home town's metal monopoly was finished for good.
Swansea Bay is sheltered from the prevailing wind by the rocks of the Mumbles.
They mark a turning point.
We're leaving the populated shores of the industrial east behind,
to head to the wilder west.
Few places have sites as celebrated as the Gower Peninsula,
the first place in Britain to be designated
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It's a land of unexpected riches!
A feast for the eye and the taste buds!
This is Langland Bay.
At low tide, a select few are drawn to its beaches
for a somewhat dubious gastronomic delight!
I'm told there's a rather special seafood you can find down here,
if you know what you are looking for, that is.
Betty Phillips is one of the few people who can still recognise a peculiar Welsh delicacy.
-Hello, are you all right?
-What is you're looking for? Not just any old weed, I take it?
No, it's special. Laver weed.
It's like polythene in a way, it's like plastic.
-Are you sure that's not what it is?
-Black plastic bags.
I can't say it looks terrible appetising.
-You don't fancy it, do you?
-I'm not convinced.
-Are you going to eat it when I cook it for you?
-I'll give it a lash.
-Will you? You've got to.
-Let's give it a try.
-Give it a try. OK, shall we pick a little bit more?
I can see you'll take a bit of convincing.
It doesn't sell itself very well.
Looks like green slime.
Oh no, it's not slimy. It's not a bit slimy.
It's all very well if you know you can eat it.
-It's not like this when it's cooked.
-How would you know that?
What sort of person finds this stuff on a rock and says,
"That would look good on a sandwich."
-Do you know what I mean?
-Yes, I know.
The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
-I want to see this done.
-Right, OK, follow me.
Laver weed is the same seaweed the Japanese use to wrap sushi.
The Japanese dry theirs, the Welsh cook it for hours.
It doesn't look like the sort of thing you should put in your mouth!
-OK, you promise this isn't a practical joke.
-No, no, no, no...
-You really do eat this?
Well done. Well done.
That's brilliant. What is that?
Mmm... It tastes of many things. It's got the sea in it.
It's got a pickled flavour to it. And there's kind of a...
It's got the texture of spinach.
I'll remember Langland Bay
as the place I joined the select seaweed appreciation society!
The distinctive Gower Peninsula juts out into the Bristol Channel.
The Gower's landscape was sculpted by ice.
50,000 years ago, massive glaciers bulldozed its fertile soils.
Now, the peninsula's conjunction of land and sea produces food of distinction.
Below Weobley Castle lies Llanrhidian Marsh.
It's a harsh land that takes skill and know-how to farm.
Rowland Pritchard rears 1,200 sheep on some 4,000 acres of salt marsh.
Rowland is one of a tiny band of sheep farmers whose pasture is regularly under water.
How extreme are the tides?
The tides are very, very high.
All this we're standing on now, this time next week, will be under water.
-This'll be sea bed in a few days' time?
And it comes in very, very quickly,
at a good walking pace.
Because the land is so flat,
you find once it starts rising above a certain level,
it just shoots over the top, so it is very dangerous for the sheep.
Do they learn to avoid the tide, or what?
Oh no, they'll stand there when the tide comes in.
We've actually got to go out and fetch them in
before the tide comes in.
It's strange because sheep are good swimmers, but they won't swim.
They just stand there.
The salt marsh might keep Rowland and his sheep on their toes,
but the ebb and flow of the tide
creates a richly varied coastal pasture.
Does the grazing here affect the meat, do you think?
Oh, yes, significantly.
There's sort of no ryegrasses that you get on conventional fields.
More the herbs that we get. That really does affect the flavour of the meat.
What sort of herbs are out here?
Well we've got the marsh pinks
and the samphire you'll see in the gutters now.
I would call that wild asparagus.
Yeah, a lot of people call it a poor man's asparagus.
I prefer to call it a rich man's asparagus.
You can taste the salt in it, can't you?
Originally, sheep were put here out of necessity -
poor communities making the most of the land they had.
Now, the salt lamb has become a great delicacy.
The coast beyond the Gower boasts some spectacular beaches.
Low tides uncover vast tracts of sand created by storm waves
that roll here all the way from the Caribbean.
At seven miles long, Pendine Sands is one of Britain's biggest beaches.
On a day this wet, it's virtually deserted.
Except for Simon Haslett from Bath Spa University -
he's out defying the elements to investigate these sands' unique qualities.
Simon, what on earth are you doing out here?
-I'm actually auguring into the beach here.
-Can I help?
Indeed you can, yeah.
It's not very sophisticated.
It's just brute force!
If we lift it up and see if we can get some of this sand out.
So what kind of sand is this?
This is actually very fine sand.
I can demonstrate that by using a grain size comparator.
This is a little card that has pictures on it
of all the different grain sizes, from fine sand
all the way up to very coarse sand.
About the point where sand stops being sand and just becomes dust.
Below that, it becomes silt and clay.
I've got here some sand that I collected in North Devon
just across the Bristol Channel from Barnstaple,
just for comparison.
-You can really see...
They're practically gigantic pebbles.
What that shows is even within the Bristol Channel area,
sand sizes on the beaches can vary immensely.
Because Pendine has such super-fine sand particles,
its beach is very hard and very flat.
This smooth surface combined with its sheer scale made it a Mecca
for a brave band of death-defying gentlemen.
For a brief period between 1924 and 1927,
Pendine became world famous when its beach took centre stage
for a series of world land speed record attempts.
In April 1926,
this car was brought to this beach and together, they created history.
The old girl still occasionally gets the chance
to blow away a few cobwebs.
She looks for all the world like a giant Meccano toy.
In the '20s, was this really capable of the world record?
Yes, this is a 171 mph land speed record-holding car.
This is still capable of high speeds?
It's certainly capable of doing the wrong side of 150 mph.
No wonder they called it the Roaring Twenties!
I'm sure these things had something to do with it.
A 27-litre aero engine doing its stuff with no silencers
and a short exhaust where you can see the valves and feel
you can smell the burnt fuel as it's coming out hot...
Yeah, it's pretty good.
Given that it's a World War I aircraft engine,
it takes a little persuasion to get started.
When it does get going, it's something to behold.
It's like a big child's toy or a cartoon of a car.
In the '20s, this beach was the only place in Britain big enough
and flat enough to really let Babs rip.
Babs was the car was owned by Wales' very own magnificent man in a flying machine, Parry Thomas.
He vied with Pendine's other famous racer,
Scotsman Malcolm Campbell, to be the fastest man on Earth.
For two years, these men took it turns to break each other's records.
Fierce rivals united by the need for speed
In March 1927, it was Thomas's turn to try to regain the crown.
The tide was right, but he had an uneasy wait for the weather.
It was three days before it became clear enough
for Thomas to make an attempt.
He wasn't a well man, he wasn't feeling particularly well
and he had a number of difficulties with the run.
He'd done a run at 180 mph,
then there was a technicality with the timing
and eventually, he made another run down the beach.
As he slowed down beyond the measured mile, there was a cloud of spray and sand
and the car had had a major accident at significant speed
and Thomas was killed.
Once he'd lost control, Parry Thomas never stood a chance.
Hard sand and high speed are an unforgiving combination.
In an almost pagan ritual, Babs' seats were slashed
and her dials smashed before she was buried in the dunes.
The little community of record breakers migrated to the sands of America.
Pendine fell silent as a grave.
But one man returned,
determined to ensure the memory of Parry Thomas shouldn't stay buried.
In 1968, Owen Wyn Owen excavated the wreckage
and painstakingly brought Babs back to life.
Now occasionally, he brings the car back to the beach that Babs
and Parry Thomas once made the fastest place on earth.
At the western end of Carmarthen Bay is Tenby.
On a natural promontory, the Normans built a castle
and the oh-so English town sprang up within its walls.
Every summer, the English still like to invade the area's beaches.
From the harbour,
it's a short hop to the tranquillity of Caldey Island.
There have been monks living on here since the sixth century.
These days, it attracts a broader church who come here searching
for their own particular brand of spiritual solace.
This is an extremely spiritual place.
You definitely feel something different when you arrive.
My life normally is just so noisy and so hectic
and very, very intense.
So to come here and escape from my normal life
in Birmingham is just so special.
Just to come and recharge my batteries.
Caldey Island, for me, is yoga.
It's where my soul feels completely happy and completely peaceful.
The Pembrokeshire coast has a history of inspiring spiritual communities.
It's littered with pagan and early Christian relics.
Wedged in a cleft amid the limestone cliffs
is the secluded splendour of St Govan's Chapel.
The headland that bears St Govan's name marks the point
where the Bristol Channel finishes and the Atlantic begins.
The mixing of these waters attracts some very special families
to visit this community coast.
It's family groups of dolphins that Miranda's in search of.
We've got the engines on and we're cruising at a fairly steady pace
and if there are dolphins in the area,
there's a good chance they'll come to the boat.
They love to ride on the front bow wave.
I'm with volunteers from the Sea Trust.
They collect data on the marine mammals in this area.
Today, we're searching for short-beaked common dolphins
who come here in the spring and summer.
Nothing as yet. We're still looking.
No sign of dolphins yet but we have chanced across
another summer visitor.
A very strange-looking one at that!
This fish is actually a sunfish.
The heaviest bony fish in the ocean. They're absolutely huge.
And this weird dorsal fin that it's waving at the top
it actually uses for propulsion.
They often come up to the surface to bathe in the sun, to warm up.
More probably to get things like parasites off.
People have seen gulls pick parasites off the skin.
Rare sightings like this sunfish, and the normally more reliable dolphins,
mean wildlife watches are popular with tourists.
In contrast, fishermen like to avoid the dolphins
but the vast nets of their trawlers are a constant hazard.
Every winter, common dolphins are washed up on the south-west coast
bearing scars from fishing nets.
That's one of the reasons the Sea Trust volunteers
are carefully surveying dolphin numbers,
but first, you've got to spot one.
Suddenly in seconds, we are surrounded by about 20 dolphins
checking us out and riding the bow wave.
Brilliant, brilliant, there's another one.
This is fantastic.
We can see them swimming, see them moving, see them interacting.
There is a really small baby.
Two, two together.
Lots of mothers and calves.
It seems to be a maternal group and that is what we seem to get a lot round here.
You have got another one there with what we call a rugby ball,
-They are tiny.
Why do the dolphins come here? What is so special about the waters here?
It is an incredibly rich area for food and like all breeding animals,
they need the food and if the food is there, they will thrive.
Over the years, we have come to the conclusion that this is a nursery area.
Important in world terms.
Usually out dolphin watching, you are lucky to get five
or 10 minutes with them but this group were brilliant and they stayed with us for nearly an hour.
Before the Sea Trust volunteers started their survey,
little was known about the common dolphins off this coast.
With each encounter, it is becoming clearer that these waters are
crucial for families of dolphins raising their young and it is a real privilege to watch them do it.
We're heading west along the South Wales Coast in search of a Haven.
Admiral Lord Nelson described Milford Haven
as one of the finest natural harbours in the world.
In its glory days,
this was the largest deep water port on the Atlantic.
The historic defences that ring the estuary
show how highly it was prized.
The military have now abandoned these coastal forts.
They've fallen into private hands
and they make an ideal spot for the security conscious.
Talk about taking things to the limit.
Look, VR 1891, Queen Victoria.
She didn't like to be taken by surprise either.
How do you get in here?
Hello the house.
-Hello, you must be Neil.
-Welcome to Chapel Bay Fort.
What a fantastic place!
George Geer bought his coastal fort 14 years ago.
Since then, he's devoted himself to restoring it to its former glory.
What about this brute, George?
What does this fire?
This is an 18-tonne 10-inch rifle muzzle loader,
fired a pointed armour-piercing Palliser projectile,
penetrating nearly a foot of armour plating from 1,000 yards.
This is the original gun put here in 1891.
If you fire something out of the end of this, how far does it go?
About three of four miles at this sort of elevation,
12 degrees, I think the range is three miles.
George's restoration has been a labour of love.
The previous residents were pigs, a pig farm to be precise.
Even in its heyday, the fort never actually saw action.
But it was used to train artillerymen before they faced the Western Front in World War I.
This is the battery control station which
we have nearly finished restoring, with help from the Lottery.
You are under an inch and a half of steel armour plate.
Up in here is where, if you like, this was the nerve centre for this battery.
-This is the brains of the whole operation.
-This is the brains.
From here, you can see everywhere from the entrance to the Haven, all the way round past Dale,
you can see all the way down the Haven to the dockyard.
So nothing passes this fort, but the men in here can see it.
-And they're in communication with the guns.
-So how do you do the clever bit?
The clever bit comes from this instrument,
which is a Watkin Depression Range Finder.
First appeared in 1873. It was so good,
it was still in use in 1956 when Coast Artillery was closed down.
So by working these controls together, you can keep the cross hairs on the waterline of the ship.
Absolutely, and get a continuous read out of range.
Brilliant. I've got one, George.
Right now, your number two would pass the range to the chap sitting behind you,
who by telephone and loudspeaker
would relay the elevation and the azimuth to the guns.
Coast gunnery was the very peak of artillery of the period,
the most intelligent men were posted to Coast Artillery batteries
because it was so dependent on engineering and mathematics.
This really WAS the brains of the outfit.
This was the white heat of military technology 100 years ago.
The trainee gunners would've had no shortage of ships
passing through their sights.
Over the years, fishermen, the Navy and even the odd whaler
have made the most of Milford Haven's deep waters.
More recently, prosperity has come aboard oil tankers.
But there's been a high price to pay.
Remember the Sea Empress disaster in 1996?
Everybody round here does.
72,000 tonnes of crude oil poured out of the stricken ship
into this marine sanctuary.
The clean-up bill was £60 million.
More than a decade on from the disaster, Milford's once again
in the frontline of our insatiable appetite for energy.
Nick Crane is on the trail of a super-sized new breed of ship,
the gas tanker.
Cheap supplies from the North Sea in the '80s and '90s made us a nation
of gas junkies, but the gas fields close to home are running dry fast.
The plan now is to turn this corner of the Pembrokeshire National Park
into a storage site for gas brought all the way from the Middle East.
Here in Milford Haven, they'll soon be importing natural gas by ship
but just how are they going to do it and why here?
The one place on the Haven that you can see construction happening is around that jetty.
By the end of 2007, some of the world's biggest ships
should be navigating their way to this pier.
Apparently, once it's built,
one fifth of the UK's gas will be pumped along it.
The gas is coming all the way from Qatar,
a country half the size of Wales on the Arabian Gulf.
Their reserve is so big, it could keep the UK going for 250 years.
Transporting Qatar's gas 7,000 miles to us relies on a remarkable idea -
turn the gas into liquid.
This refrigeration plant concentrates the gas down
into liquid by super-cooling it.
Jo Harris is going to show me the idea.
My breath in a balloon is the gas we're going to shrink.
Is that enough?
That should be fine, yes.
So we are pretending this is
natural gas straight out of the ground in Qatar.
We're shrinking my breath by immersing it in liquid nitrogen
chilled to -190 degrees Celsius.
As any gas cools, it takes up less space, eventually turning to liquid.
When they bring this liquefied gas back to Milford Haven,
how do they turn it back into gas?
All they need to do is warm it back up to room temperature.
that's completely astonishing. It's that fast.
14 super tankers are being specially built to keep the natural gas
insulated so it stays liquid on its trip from Qatar.
When natural gas is super-chilled, its volume shrinks by 600 times
and this makes it economic to ship.
So a fifth of our gas will arrive here in Milford Haven as super-cold liquid.
It's then got to be kept chilled to store it as a liquid.
From the bottom of the site, these tanks didn't look much,
but up close, they are absolutely massive.
Each storage tank in the Pembrokeshire National Park
is big enough to contain the Albert Hall and there are five of them.
On the lid of tank number one is Don Rees.
It's his job to get the site ready on time.
How are you going to keep this super-chilled gas as a liquid?
Perlite - small round balls of insulation.
Some people have even got them in their lofts of their houses.
Do you mean this liquid gas is being kept cold by loft insulation?
-I'm not. It works!
These tanks act like giant Thermos flasks.
They'll be full of liquid natural gas
stored at -160 degrees Celsius.
When it's warmed up again, it'll expand 600 times,
making huge amounts of gas ready for us to use.
By 2008, we'll all be connected to this coast.
To get the fuel to your home and mine,
Milford Haven is being joined up to the national grid.
That means laying 23,000 sections of pipe over 200 miles.
I'm leaving with very mixed feelings -
impressed by the ingenuity and engineering skills,
and concerned that it has to be here at all.
But we have an insatiable demand for energy and the commercial solution
to that is to convert this beautiful inlet into a gas port.
Beyond Milford Haven, the coast hangs a sharp right.
The waters off these rugged bluffs teem with marine life.
Many people are drawn to the coast to watch wildlife.
Tony Pearce has been coming here for 30 years to listen to it.
When I go down to the coast, it is a nice relaxing day out,
to get out and hear the wildlife
and the sea against the cliffs and know that where you are,
it's how it's been for hundreds of years.
People say when you go blind, your hearing gets better,
but I don't think it does.
It is just that you concentrate on it more and therefore, you hear more things.
There aren't many seals on the beach today.
-There's an adult with a cub.
-Is the mother not coming to it?
The mother's with it.
I wonder why it keeps calling, then.
When you are listening to the recordings, you do see the picture
of what was there, like if you were listening to sea birds on cliffs,
you can imagine the cliffs and the waves
breaking at the bottom of the cliffs and the birds wheeling round in the air.
From Wooltack Point, the coast sweeps round into St Brides Bay.
The headlands and cliffs that mark its western extremity
attract those who like to get hands on with their coastline.
In fact, it's so inspiring that people round here
have pioneered a sport of their own - coasteering.
It's the challenge of getting around the shore anyway you can,
scrabbling over rocks, swimming deep gullies
and trying not to disturb the wildlife.
There's nothing the local aficionados like better than showing a group of beginners how it's done.
Sports like these are helping to revitalise this remote corner of Wales.
New-fangled lifestyles replacing old-fashioned industries.
In the 19th century, folk were drawn to this coast to labour for coal.
Right in the middle of St Brides Bay
is a colliery too small to appear on many maps.
Once, it was the most westerly mining community in Wales.
This coal is quite beautiful.
It shines like a semi-precious stone.
It almost looks like you could make jewellery out of it.
It burns at a very high temperature
and when it burns, it is quite clean.
It is so clean in fact that Queen Victoria insisted on this coal,
from this seam to burn in her palaces.
How very green of Her Majesty, I would say.
A stone's throw from the colliery is St David's Head,
where it's believed the Welsh patron saint worked his wonders.
Mine's a well-trodden path.
For 1,500 years, it's been a site of pilgrimage.
St David's is Wales's largest cathedral
set in Britain's smallest city.
It's a throbbing metropolis of just four streets and 2,000 souls.
This peninsula is the most westerly point of mainland Wales
and as far as I go.
On my journey, I've discovered a real community feel to this coastline.
From Cardiff Bay's new boat people...
..to colossal caravan parks.
The people of South Wales are drawn to their coast
and it embodies the communal spirit of the nation.
"Welsh" is an English word and it means "foreigner",
but the people living here call themselves "Y Cymri".
That can be translated as "compatriots", people you can rely on
and that's what community is all about.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]