Steeply inclined, rugged, and sombre, the cliffs at the south end of Rhossili Bay make a dramatic contrast to the grassy slopes of Rhossili Down and the wide, gently shelving expanses of the sandy beach.
The cliff is characterised by massive strata, sometimes at a 45 degree angle; comprising layers of varying thickness up to almost a metre; and overlain by encrusting marine organisms arranged in horizontal bands of different colours from beach level to cliff top in rocky shore zonation.
On top of the cliff lies the Viel, an ancient medieval strip field system, separating the village of Rhossili from the rocky, wave-cut platform which is a natural causeway to the Worms Head. In the cliff face, narrow clefts have been excavated by the sea – tall enough for a person to squeeze through. The walls inside are covered with a myriad of marine creatures taking advantage of the permanent moist conditions and relative shelter.
In places, the rock fissures have widened and deepened to form small caves. If you crawl or clamber into one of these, you can discover a quiet space with smooth grey walls, precariously balanced boulders, and shallow pools lined with shell-like ripple patterns in the sandy floor. The light from the cave entrance glints on wet stone surfaces while deeper recesses are only discernible with the light of the camera flash.
COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2012
All Rights Reserved