Bullslaughter Bay

Kelsey Breseman
3 min readMay 26

Legend has it that Saint Govan was pursued by pirates here — they used to chase missionaries for stolen gold — when he sailed into these cliffs and they opened and closed around him until the pirates passed. Now, there is a chapel built into the cliffside — it's said he built it there in gratitude.

This is no longer a likely coast for pirates, but romantic tales of treasure are easy to imagine here: deep sea caves stud the waterline if you are brave enough to peer over the cliffs.

Braver yet, Huntsman's Leap is two sea cliffs as little as three meters across but hundreds of feet down to the rocks and waves. Lore again, an ancient hunter leapt the gap on horseback, then turned to see what he had jumped and died of shock.

The drama of the landscape begs for stories. Waves crash against sea stacks; a trail of low blue wildflowers leads out to a promontory all in pink. A tank sits still and strange in the meadow, and bunkers have been dug into grassy hummocks.

As well as storied land and Wales Coast Path, this is a part of the Castlemartin military training area. Live machine gun and armored vehicle exercises take place here, firing into land and sea. Soldiers have been killed here in training. Hikers are warned that the area can sometimes be shut down, and that off the path may be unexploded ordinance — so take care. There are strange craters in the earth that now are covered over with grass.

Violence has been done to this land, but there are flowers that follow fire. Whether due to our lower latitude or the three weeks more of May, blooms of red and dark purple have joined pink, pale blue, yellow, and white.

I stop by a cattle grate: something is sounding in the wind. There is a beckoning echo, some rhythm that the wind sometimes covers, sometimes whistles in melody, more heartbeat than metronomic. The sound traces I think to the wire of a spool tied to the gate and tracing far away into the distance.

Our intended destination is the Green Arch of Wales, a future pair of sea stacks whose bridge has not yet worn away. Eileen spots it down along the coast: cliffs the whole way, but this one rounded from below. But as we've walked, we've spied a nearer treasure. Hidden in a dip, there is a path down to a bay. We descend.

A great arch of layered stone begs to be walked through. Waves lap against golden sand and between enormous boulders fallen from the cliff above. The limestone walls are…