The morning after the storm on 8th April 2009, Rhossili beach looked calm, flat, dark and featureless from the viewpoint at the top of the steps leading down from Rhossili village.
It still looked like that once down on the shore. Walking northwards along the beach, empty miles of flat, compacted sand extended from the waters’ edge almost to the base of Rhossili Down. On the surface, a thin coating of black sand brought to the top during a reworking of the seashore sediments by the waves at high tide.
Cobbles and pebbles form a narrow band at the top of the beach for most of its length – seen here looking northwards from a point about half way along the beach near to where people get down to the beach via the Hillend Campsite. Rhossili Down in the south gives way here to the dune system called Llangennith Burrows in the north.
Suddenly, looking to the sea with the tide now far out (you can just make out a couple of people and a kite surfer at the waters’ edge), the flat beach surface has been entirely replaced by acres of low hummocks and water-filled pools, sculpted by a quixotic combination of tide and current during the stormy conditions of the night before.
Quite why this type of beach topography features only in the northern half of the 5 kilometres of Rhossili Bay is a bit of a mystery. I have seen it like this many times. This temporary geomorphological phenomenon doesn’t seen to affect the Rhossili village end of the seashore.
The following morning (9th April 2009) the vast expanse of sculpted sand had disappeared. The wind was blowing low streams of sand around my ankles as I walked the entire length of the beach that had been reinstated smooth and flat again – except for a small patch of irregular puddles remaining right up against Burry Holms.
A Post from the Past