A Recce at Kidwelly and Ferryside

I work a 10 am-2 pm shift today. I’m on the till closest to the entrance and through the glass I can see the weather changing by the minute — heavy rain, followed by spots of sun, and then more rain. I’ve decided that whatever the weather, I’m heading out once I’ve finished work — first to Kidwelly, and then on to Ferryside.

The A48 to Carmarthen is pretty quiet. I figure the vast majority of the nation are watching Wales play Scotland at rugby. I wish them the best, but as I’m not the biggest sports fan I’m happy to take advantage of the relative quiet this brings. The weather is still changeable. One minute my wipers are on intermittent, the next they’re on double speed, and back to intermittent again. It’s certainly not going to be a dry afternoon, but I’m willing to risk getting wet.

Once in Kidwelly, golden hour is in full swing. I cross the road from the car park and spot the spire of the church in a nice golden light against grey skies. I can hear the cries of the jackdaws as they circle the steeple. It’s a pleasant shot, though nothing remarkable. I follow the footpath that follows the river past the castle, and then the heavens open. Not to worry, I’ve got my waterproof Regatta jacket and soft-shell trousers. This will be an interesting test to see how water resistant my Fly Leaf bag is without the rain cover.

I want to get a shot from the base of the castle at some point, but on nearing the castle this side of the river, I know this isn’t going to be the composition that works for me. If anything, it just feels a bit lazy, and I really want the river to cross the frame, not run alongside it. There doesn’t appear to be a path on the opposite bank. I’m going to have to figure out a way to access it. I wander back the way I came and further into Kidwelly. I wonder if there’s any access from the churchyard, but it appears to back onto private property. No luck there then. I could explore more but now’s not the time. I’m getting wetter and wetter, and decide it’s time to head back to the car. I can always check satellite imagery back home.

The final destination for today’s recce is Ferryside, a village on the eastern shore of the Towy estuary. I photographed it from Llansteffan several days ago and thought it could be an interesting alternative viewpoint for photographing the castle. I’d like to come at dawn, but figure it will be a good idea to check it out first, rather than having the added pressure of exploring somewhere new before daybreak.

I park up in Ferryside on the edge of the beach by the sailing club building. It’s just started raining again, but upriver I spot one of the most intense rainbows I’ve seen ending on the sandbanks in the middle of the Towy estuary. I know I’ve got to move right now. This light isn’t going to last for long. I haven’t got time to grab the Nikon and affix the right lens so I grab my Lumix which is beside me on the passenger seat, and fly out of the car and onto the beach. There is an old grounded fishing boat on the sands. It’s catching the full rays of the afternoon sun and I compose a shot to capture the rainbow landing on the boat. I shoot a bunch of other angles, hastily wiping the raindrops off my lens in between shots. In less than a minute, the intensity fades and then the rainbow disappears.

I head south down the beach and the light is looking really dramatic reflected in the wet sands. I shoot towards Llansteffan and the headland around Scot’s Bay. I’ve got a reasonable shot and getting fed up with the rain I head back to the car to try and dry off while I wait to see if the light changes. It does. It gets darker. My pack is soaked though it seems most of the contents have remained dry. I wouldn’t like to chance it in future, so will apply the rain cover if I know it’s going to rain for extended periods. This is also the first soaking I’ve had in my Regatta soft-shell, fleece lined trousers. Considering how wet they are, my legs aren’t feeling the cold too much. If I were wearing jeans, I’d be very uncomfortable right now.

Ferryside at dusk looking towards Llansteffan.

Ferryside at dusk looking towards Llansteffan.

Sitting in the car running the blowers and air-con to try and dry me off, through the non-fogged areas of the windscreen I can see the fiery tones on the distant horizon become obscured by grey clouds as the rain pummels the car. That’s it. The weather has drawn in for the evening and I’m done here and head home.

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