Browse content similar to Gower to Anglesey (20min). Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
The coast of South West Wales.
Our earliest ancestors came to the edge of our islands
for sustenance from land, sea and sky.
But this cathedral of the elements didn't only nourish their bodies,
they also found succour for the soul.
Far on the horizon lies the vanishing point
between the sea and sky.
Out there, it seems as if the heavens and the earth meet.
No wonder then that natural "walkways to eternity",
like this one, where the land snakes out into the sea,
are special places with spiritual power for pilgrims and pagans alike.
Our journey continues, heading for Anglesey,
starting at Worm's Head in Gower.
These long fingers of land on the western edge of Britain
reach out to caress the Irish Sea.
Gower was the UK's first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and at the very tip
of the Gower Peninsula lies this remarkable headland - Worm's Head.
Viking's coined its name "ormr" from the Old Norse for serpent.
I can see why that green spine of land reminded the Vikings
of a serpent reaching out to sea.
Those same Norsemen buried their dead in tombs they built
over there on Rhossili Down.
Who would dare disturb the spirits of their departed
with such a fierce beast guarding the shore?
Even today, you've got to be brave to take on the Worm's Head.
The scramble across the jagged causeway
that connects it to the mainland isn't for the faint-hearted.
I've got to read the tides right - the currents that come swirling in
across the rocks can easily cut you off, or wash you away.
You can't afford to hang around.
One adventurer who got himself marooned out here
was the poet Dylan Thomas.
He told tales of being trapped on the rocks by the rising tide as darkness fell.
Now it gets really tough.
Just as I need to get a move on, the landscape and the elements are against me.
Once you've scrambled along the rocks of the low neck,
you reach a jagged arch, cut by the sea clean through the body of the beast.
It takes you to the outer head - the loneliest tip of Gower.
They call this the Devil's Bridge, and I'd love to cross over and carry on,
but I'm going to leave that little slice of heaven to the birds.
I'm here in May, and at this time of year,
the tip of Worm's Head is out of bounds
because the seabirds are busy nesting.
I'm glad to get a head start on the tide.
It's scary how fast the sea rushes in to make this an island once more.
But there'll be other great walkways into the sea to explore
as I venture westward along the Welsh shore.
Worm's Head is just a tiny little snake of land poking its head
out of the Gower Peninsula, which itself
pokes out like a pimple on the face of the South Wales coast.
But this is no unsightly blemish,
more a site of serene beauty scraped clean by the last ice age.
We continue our journey westward along Carmarthen Bay.
Crossing the water into Pembrokeshire, Tenby's sweeping golden beaches
are just a taste of the majestic shoreline that awaits us.
Some of the best surfers in the world are drawn to open, wind-blown bays like Freshwater West.
Hi, I'm Kirsty Jones, I'm a professional kitesurfer.
I'm Kitesurf World Wave Champion and I've come to Freshwater West
to train for my next World Cup competition.
It's my favourite beach to come surfing.
It's a world-class surfing break and it's also really great for kitesurfing.
It's a really special place for me because that's where my roots are from
and it's always nice to come back, even though I travel all over the world.
OK, here we go.
I'm going to hit the wave on this one!
Kitesurfing is using a big power kite to pull you along on the water,
and you can do tricks, you can do jumps.
I'm going to do a little grab now.
You can just cruise along on the water. It's just an amazing sport.
I'm going to go for a forward loop now.
Freshwater West is just amazing when it's like this.
There's something really special about
the feeling of the sea air and the sea coming back to Wales.
I just love it.
Across St Bride's Bay is the tiny harbour of Solva.
We're nearing the western edge of Wales.
St Davids is Britain's smallest city with Wales's biggest cathedral.
The nation's patron saint established a monastery here in the 6th century,
when the sea was a religious highway spreading the word around early Christian Britain and Ireland.
Pembrokeshire has Britain's most coastal national park,
a glorious shoreline that you can walk from beginning to end
enjoying a coast path 186 miles long.
It helps to get your walking boots on to find the surprises tucked away along this shore.
Like here, at Abereiddi.
The locals call this place the Blue Lagoon,
and its aquamarine colour
gives it the look of a tropical pool, but it's far from natural.
Now it's a playground for divers and coasteers, but this place is a clue
to an industrial boom that happened here more than 100 years ago.
It's not just the sea that's been eating away at this coast.
The locals have done their share of nibbling too.
This was a slate quarry that once employed around 100 workers.
And just along the coastal path, another giant hole in the ground.
An exceptionally hard stone - dolerite - was blasted out
of the cliffs here, an ideal material for buildings and roads.
The rock was hauled a short distance by rail
to the tiny harbour at Porthgain.
The village is still dominated by enormous brick hulks.
Here the stone was crushed and graded in five separate bunkers,
then it cascaded down a loading chute into boats
waiting at the quayside.
Today, you see just the odd boat going in and out of the harbour, fishing for crabs and lobsters.
But when the quarry was going full tilt, the company had six steam coasters and at one time there were
100 other vessels, all registered at the port, and they're not entirely forgotten either.
The nameplates of many of them are inside the pub, nailed to the walls and above the tables.
A remarkable industrial operation dominated the surrounding area
right up until the 1930s.
Unearthing this lost world of endeavour
is a bit of archaeology anyone can do, so much still remains.
The Welsh coast is a fertile shore for the making of myths.
Here, legend tells of a city lost to the sea -
Cantre'r Gwaelod, the Welsh Atlantis.
And then you come to Porth Oer.
Here, there's more than a grain of truth in a local claim to fame.
Alice is on a mission to solve the riddle of the Singing Sands.
If you believe its name, this beach isn't just heavenly to look at,
it's also rather wonderful to listen to.
It's called the Whistling Sands.
It's not the wind that's whistling, supposedly it's the sand itself that squeaks.
To get to bottom of it, I'm joined by our acoustics expert David Sharp
from the Open University,
who'll be listening for the special music of this place.
And coastal scientist Rod Jones,
who'll be looking for the squeak in the sand.
Listening to the sound of the beach can be a bit hit and miss.
If it's been a very high tide or it's rained, you'd be out of luck.
But on a dry, sunny day like this, we should hear the squeak underfoot.
-Hi David, how are you?
-Hello, I'm fine, thank you.
Now squeaking sand, I'm getting a tiny squeak as I'm walking along but it's very quiet.
OK, well, just try scuffing your foot through quite hard and see what happens.
Why don't we walk along a little bit and see if we can get that...
-Oh, there we go.
-Oh, that was a good one.
-This looks quite mad.
Brilliant, I'm getting it really nicely on the screen.
That's really squeaking!
I've never heard that before on a beach.
But we need more feet for the full effect.
Quiet please, we are recording the Squeaky Beach.
Yes, come on.
We'll make a line, I think.
What we probably need to try to do is to get in step.
-How did that sound, David?
-Oh, it sounded excellent. We've got a really good recording.
And is this beach unique in making this sound?
Well, it's not unique.
There are around 30 beaches in the UK that will have these properties,
but this is one of the better ones.
There's a good chance you're close to a whistling beach,
particularly on the west coast.
But why aren't there more?
What makes these beaches special?
I'm with coastal scientist Rod Jones
to find out what makes some sand sing.
What is it that makes the sound at a particular beach special?
Why isn't all sand the same?
Well, sound is affected by the energy of the environment where it sits.
So you've got your waves coming in and that's sorting the sand,
and it's taking some grains and pulling them offshore,
and others it's pushing to the top end of the beach.
And you've also got the process of wind, so when the tide's out,
these sands will dry and the wind will blow across them
-and blow the finer particles up to the top of the shore.
And the balance of the wave energy, wind energy,
and the supply and grain size of the sediments that you've got
at the back there, will define what the particle size
and characteristics are of the beach sediment.
How the wind and waves sort the sand depends on the shape of a bay.
We compared samples from two different beaches,
from here at Whistling Sands and from Criccieth nearby.
Right, shall we try this sand first? Which is from Criccieth.
If I just zoom in on it...
So, large grains and also a variety of different grain sizes as well.
-And shapes as well.
You can actually see little particles of slate there,
as well as quartz and a lot of other things.
It's a very varied sort of sand.
OK, shall we have a look at the sand from Whistling Sands now?
Let's just compare it with the last one and see just how different it is.
Now that looks very different.
It is, isn't it?
The other one was much more varied in terms of grain size,
whereas this one seems to be much more dominantly composed of quartz.
-And it's much more uniform.
-In terms of size of grains.
They're quite well rounded, which means they will stack well together.
They've been sorted down,
a lot of the coarser and the finer fraction have been lost.
So wind and waves here have sifted the sand
into amazingly uniform, well-rounded particles.
But how does that produce a squeak?
David's come up with a super-size model of the sand grains.
David, what are you doing?
OK, well, what we've got here is
normal sand found on most beaches, not regular at all.
And what we've got here is our singing sand, with lots of
grains of the same size and all very well rounded.
When you kick your foot through the sand, you cause it to shear.
-That means, you cause layers to rub across each other.
Now let's have a look what happens with the normal sand,
and you can see that the grains just move up and down,
all at different times, at different rates.
With the singing sand, if you kick your foot through that,
what happens is that the grains all move up and down at the same time.
-They all move together.
So why does that produce a squeak?
Well, it's actually the whole layer moving up and down
and the whole surface then acts a bit like a loudspeaker,
vibrating and causing pressure changes in the air above,
which we hear as sound.
And not just any sound.
David's had time to analyse the squeaks he recorded to see if
the beach is as musical as its nickname, Whistling Sands, suggests.
The interesting thing is the regularity in which we get these pressure changes,
so we get these increases in pressure happening at very regular intervals,
and that's all caused by the sand vibrating up and down,
just like we saw with the balls,
And that gives us this pitched sound, like a musical note, almost.
We can actually demonstrate that, if you want to just try
-singing some notes into the microphone, we'll record that.
-OK, here we go. Right, off you go.
-# Ahhhh... #
SHE SINGS REGULAR NOTES
OK, that's brilliant.
If we zoom in on one of those...
And again, yes, you can see the regular pattern,
you've got this regular repetition
of these increases and decreases in air pressure.
And it's this regular change that gives us the sense of pitch.
Unlike most sand, this sand actually sings.
It really does sing, yeah.
Scientists are starting to explain the sound of the sands,
but there remains a magical quality to this place that's hard to define.
I love the fact the Singing Sands are still something of a mystery,
and it's a puzzle that's played out along the beaches of our coast,
in the sand under our feet.
The golden sands and clear waters of Llyn have a majestic backdrop -
the imposing mountains of Snowdonia.
And facing them across the water, Anglesey,
the island known as Mon Mam Cymru - the mother of Wales.
On its western edge is Llanddwyn Island, home of Saint Dwynwen,
the patron saint of Welsh lovers.
Which brings me to my final destination - Llangwyfan.
I'm on the causeway leading out to the Church in the Sea.
This is Llangwyfan, the church of Saint Cwyfan.
The Irish knew him as Saint Kevin,
and he was from Glendalough, not far from the stretch of Irish coast
directly across the water from here.
There's been a church on this site since at least as early as 1254.
It was extended in 14th and 15th centuries
so it wasn't always the humble building that's here now,
because back in the day, there was a lot more land out here than there is now.
Over the centuries, the sea eroded this site
until the graves started to fall into the water.
So now the church sits here on a tiny promontory,
that, just like Worm's Head where my journey started,
becomes an island at high tide.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd