By Nicky Middleton-Jones, Ranger North Pembrokeshire
This past winter’s combination of storm force winds, extreme high tides and floodwater coming downstream has had a major impact on our Pembrokeshire coastline. We own around 20% of the land at Abereiddi above the mean high water mark north of the stream, including the remains of the quarry worker cottages.
The storms brought in a tremendous amount of flotsam and jetsam, and we recently teamed up with Celtic Quest to clean up around the beach, car park, Blue Lagoon and Traeth Llyfn beach. There were over 40 of us in total, from land owners, coasteering and kayak operators to local families. Around 20 bags of rubbish and a one tonne builders sack of litter was collected in total.
This was a great partnership event thanks to all involved, including Rachel Jenkins who helped Cleopatra Browne organise the event, and Meurig Raymond who used his tractor to collect the bagged litter from the top of Traeth Llyfn steps.
The beach head at Abereiddi has changed dramatically. If you’ve been down to the ‘row’ over Easter you will have noticed that our dedicated team of local conservation volunteers have removed the steps leading up from the end cottage to the path next to the powder store.
We then turfed the area with local grass to hide the visual scar and to encourage people to walk to and from the Blue Lagoon via the official coast path. Some of the steps at the bottom of the bank had been washed away in the storms and the remainder were unsafe. The steep bank remaining was not suitable for pedestrian access and was very slippery in wet conditions.
The beach is realigning itself most rapidly at the north end, as modelled by a study that the Trust helped commission with Pembrokeshire County Council. Coastal change is inevitable, and the forces of nature are part of the beauty and appeal of our coast, so we want to work with natural processes wherever possible. The expected rise in sea level over the next 100 years will result in the partial loss of the quarry worker cottages. Hard sea defences at this location are not sustainable.
We’re surveying the site as more of the historic remains were exposed by the storms. We’re also preparing to dismantle and salvage the seaward end of the cottages, making the material available for local conservation projects.
With climate change, sea level rise and increasing frequency of extreme weather this rapid change is a vivid demonstration of the things to come. Partnerships are key and we’re working with communities and organisations to adapt to this change.
Just before Easter, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum produced a public statement, gathering together the updates from organisations and land owners at Abereiddi.
We’ve worked with the neighbouring land owner, County Council and National Park Authority to improve access to our land along the inland route of the coast path that crosses the privately owned marsh. There’s now a stone surfaced route from the car park to the inland end of the row of cottages, and the National Park will be improving their pedestrian bridge (its wide enough to take a wheelchair but needs a new handrail).
We’re keen to see that this partnership work continues to help us adapt to the changing coast at Abereiddi, for the benefit of the place and all those who value it.
P.S. You might have seen that our Shifting Shores report was re-published recently. This sets the charity’s position on coastal change – you can find it here.