2007 part 1: Quietest spell since records began!
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The almost total absence of dramatic
weather has been the key feature of Autumn 2007 in
Mid-Wales. A couple of surging cold fronts giving
line-squalls in poor visibility and that's about it.
Early snow in mid November, that lasted for less than 24
hours, one showery day and an awful lot of grey
It looks, though, as if things are about to change, with
the forecast models pointing to a major pattern-shift by
early December allowing the Atlantic to have its say once
again, after months of reduced influence. Will there be a
few days of storm-intercepting before the year is out?
One can only hope!
I thought I might start my Autumn 2007 offerings with a
series of photos of the Dyfi Estuary and Aberdyfi Bar. I
took these for the slide-library but there's a bit more
room to chat about them here!
Below Glandyfi, which is about 4.5 miles W of
Machynlleth, the Dyfi widens out drastically to a
vast expanse of salt-marshes that are covered by
just the biggest Spring tides. Dissected by
numerous deep muddy creeks, it is nigh impossible
to cross them in a straight line! Try looking on
Google Earth and you'll see what I mean! The
whole area is an internationally important nature
reserve, for its birdlife amonst other things. On
the walk during which I took this. I put up a
small flock of little Egrets - they look like a
half-size, white heron. Beautiful!
Out in mid-channel, the river winds its way
seawards around sandbanks in a multitude of
channels. This is best appreciated from the hills
above and east of Aberdyfi, which afford an
almost aerial aspect and show the vastness of
these shifting sands at low tide.
This is the same area from the
Machynlleth-Aberdyfi road. There are few decent
vantage-points these days. An excellent one with
a large layby had to be fenced-off because people
were fly-tipping down the bank below. Fly-tipping
is a pretty detestable activity at the best of
times, but the Cambrian Coast line ran below the
layby so it had to be stopped for safety reasons.
So now one has to risk the pavementless and bendy
main road on foot. Best left to quieter,
non-tourist times of the year, when the patterns
of sand and water can make fascinating subjects
for the camera.
The Main Channel is in the background here. It's
very shallow at low tide. We attempted it a few
weeks ago in our boat, a shallow-draft Dory, and
ran aground many times prior to abandoning the
attempt: that was an hour before low water!
The mouth of the Estuary is a much narrower
areas, because of the barrier formed by the
northerly-migrating storm-beach that starts at
Borth. Shingle-backed and capped with extensive
dunes, it is again an internationally-important
nature reserve. In slack areas between the main
dunes are marshy tracts famed for their Spring
...while the dunes nearer the beach carry
telltale signs of visitors making sand-slides!
From the top of the boardwalk that crosses the
dunes, the view reveals, at low tide, the complex
of sandbanks that guards the entrance to the
estuary. As if this lot wasn't enough, the exit
from the Dyfi to the open sea is marked by a
shallow area known (infamously) as Aberdyfi
On a big Spring tide, it is possible with care,
in fine weather and having checked the timing of
Low Water, to walk out towards the Bar. These are
shifting sands, with areas of quicksand in
places, so that going with a local who has
experience of their layout is the safe
From the approach to the Bar, the view south
towards Borth (out of picture to the L) and
Aberystwyth (far R) is worth taking a telephoto
lens and tripod for! This was on a very bright
October day at about noon, with cloudier skies to
From the northern edge of the sands, the waters
over Aberdyfi Bar itself are visible. The buoy in
the distance marks the open sea: there is then a
line of green navigation buoys leading towards
Aberdyfi. They mark the deeper channel: either
side are treacherous shallows.
The Bar itself is a place where the water
shallows dramatically, with the result that if
there is any ground-swell running, a big surf may
form. On the ebb on a big Spring tide, the force
of the water coming out of the Estuary meeting
incoming swells can generate big stopper-waves.
This can be a serious hazard, especially to small
craft, with the Aberdyfi Lifeboat often called
out to deal with incidents. On the day this was
taken the swell was certainly a big one, even
though there was hardly any wind at all. It is
important, therefore, to check the swell
conditions as well as forecast winds when heading
out to sea!
When viewed from the hills above Aberdyfi, it
becomes clearer how far out to sea the Estuary
projects. I liked the way the sun was lighting up
the water, into the distance, in this image.
So that's a little tour down my local Estuary.
The other section for Autumn 2007 covers what
little interesting weather we had!
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