I had a free day, so I drove to Monknash beach, just south of Bridgend. It’s nearly 2 hours door-to-beach, so I set off early. I’d prepared the night before: pack a bag, charge the camera, prep some snacks including an emergency banana, check the route.
I checked the roads, and looked out the window to check the weather. That was my error.
Regular readers will know how much I love (a) beaches, (b) south Wales, (c) beaches in south Wales, and (d) geology that you can gawp at. Monknash ticks all these boxes, but I’d never been to it. Shocking, given that it’s only about 2 hours away, door-to-beach.
Access is down a series of narrow roads that get narrower at every junction. You end up in a car park (field) opposite a house, put £3 in the honesty box, and complete the final stage on foot, down the narrowest road and finally a muddy, waterlogged footpath.
The path goes through some woods and there’s a stream cutting a valley there; you can see the stream dropping down over shelf after shelf of rock, in dozens of mini waterfalls.
Then with a final scramble over the tide-damaged beach end of the footpath, where man-made things just shrug and give up, you’re on the beach, and it takes your breath away.
The beach is what geographers call a wave cut platform. (The picture on that Wikipedia page is from Southerndown beach, just a few miles upcoast from Monknash. This is the wave cut platform to define all wave cut platforms.) Behind it are miles of incredibly beautiful, but incredibly dangerous cliffs. Here the layers of limestone continued to be battered to bits by the incoming south-westerlies and by the waves.
This is not a lie-in-the-sun-with-an-ice-cream beach.
This is a clamber-on-the-rocks-in-your-walking-boots beach.
The beach is littered with boulder remains of limestone layers gone by. There are fossils to find here, and features to admire.
I admired, from a safe distance, a relatively recent cliff fall (photo above) - the newly exposed rocks shining noticeably brighter.
The weather was awful. Not like what I’d seen out of my bedroom window in the morning. It was a relentless heavy mizzling pissfall, and I was underprepared. I had a coat for keeping warm, not a coat for keeping dry. I got very wet, very quickly.
So despite the fact that it’s about 2 hours, beach-to-door, I gave up after just 90 minutes or so of walking and exploring and swearing at the weather, went back to the car park (field), ate my emergency banana, and drove home.
I shall return on another day, a day when I remember to check the weather forecast for my destination before I go.
Filed under: places
(29 May 2019)