I am in the throws of designing a walking itinerary for a small group of women next year and have selected a favourite walk along the cliffs from St Govan’s to The Green Bridge.
I have to confess that I have not been further west but then, one starts to enter the bit of Castlemartin live firing range that still has restricted access. Although it’s probably the firing thing, could it also be that this is Pembrokeshire’s own version of Area 51? Not only for the various sightings of UFOs in West Wales, but possibly the USOs (Unusual Swimming Objects!)
Tenby had its own strange mystery beast washed up on the South Beach in 2013 that caused a huge online debate as to the type of creature it might be, with more than 65,000 people reached within hours of its picture being put on the internet!
Back in 1782, a farmer called Henry Reynolds from Pen-y-holt, near Castlemartin was walking along the cliffs, when he spotted what he thought was someone bathing in the sea, and curiously visible from the waist up, in what he knew to be very deep water. Getting within about 10 to 12 yards of it, he realised it was a youth, about 16 – 18 years of age. The boy sat upright, floating on what looked like a brown substance below the water. When the boy moved, Henry could see that the brown mass was attached to this young man and resembled the tail of a large conger eel, moving continuously in a circular manner. The trunk and arms of the creature seemed entirely human, just a little shorter and thicker. The head seemed human too except that the nose was higher between the eyes, and seemed quite long. Its head was white like the rest of the body but without any hair as such, although there was a brownish ribbon like structure that went from his forehead, over his head and down his back. The creature swam about the rocks and stared intently at Henry, although it never smiled or made a gesture of any kind. Having watched for about an hour, Henry eventually decided to fetch his friends to witness the strange man, but by the time he returned the Merman had disappeared.
The Royal Academician and pre-Raphaelite artist John William Waterhouse has painted several including this rather beautiful picture shown. Happy swimming all you budding mermaids and men!