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Sully Island

Promontory Fort


Boxing Day morning under a leaden, South Walian sky, with cloud base low enough to prevent fleeing to the hills, is not the most inspiring of times, it has to be said. Only one thing for it, then.... to paraphrase the lovely Cerys Matthews... 'Things are strange, I'm starting to worry. This could be a case of going to Sully'. Well, my mum's always said I'm a bit like Mulder from the X-Files. Not sure if that's a compliment or not, to be honest.

Sully Island is another of those locations which may well take those unfamiliar with the delights of The Glamorgan coastline by surprise, set as it is between the capital city (to the north) and Barry Island (think Gavin and Stacy, if you must) to the west. With due respect to the locals, I'm sure they'd agree scenic beauty wouldn't be the first topic of conversation when mentioning the locality... nevertheless it is here. There is also danger for the unwary in the form of one of the highest tidal ranges in Britain (my thanks to the Mam C's husband - who works nearby - for that nugget of information, duly exposing my general ignorance of local marine matters). To be fair, the prominent signs round about make this crystal clear. People have drowned crossing to Sully Island. Simple as that.

Initially there doesn't seem any chance of me getting more than a distant view of the 'promontory' fort occupying the left hand (eastern) portion of the island, as viewed from the quayside. Yeah, the tide is right in, the island, well.... an island. However the sun pokes from behind the cloud mantle, encouraging me to take a few shots from the beach. Then, wandering down the breakwater - as you do - I have the crazy (and no doubt suicidally dangerous) idea that it might be possible to wade. However, clearly, it would be impossible to venture further without coffee, so a return to the car is required. Several minutes later the decision is academic, a broad causeway of rock now linking island to shore. Jeez. That is fast.

Passing Carl's skeletal boat, I head eastwards along the island, the far (southern) flank of which is being inexorably smashed to oblivion by the Bristol Channel.... fort 'n all. Guess the sea wants Sully Island back, then. Coflein reckons there are three cross-ramparts isolating the far eastern section of the island from the hinterland, although I can only positively identify two. These are quite substantial, relatively speaking, although considerably overgrown with brambles - and, sadly, featuring quite a bit of rubbish. The highest point of the enclosure is crowned by what I take to possibly be the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow. Surprisingly, Coflein (very) tentatively agrees. If we are correct, it is a suitable location for VIP burial, with the natural, craggy defences of the fort falling way sharply to the water, the sea views expansive towards Flat Holm etc. Looking to the south along the disintegrating, southern flank the view is more industrial, with Barry's factory chimneys lying beyond the sound. Yeah, times have changed since people actually occupied this spot. But it still remains an extraordinary place to eat Boxing Day lunch. And that's a fact. No need to get Mulder and Scully onto Sully to solve that one.

Just make sure you keep one eye permanently upon that crazy tide!
3rd January 2012ce
Edited 5th January 2012ce

Comments (1)

Regarding the tide - just to say that the Bristol Channel has the 2nd highest tides in the world (after a place in Canada whos name I can't remember). Hence the plans to put a barage across to provide electricity - (but that's another story!) Posted by CARL
4th January 2012ce
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