Campaign diary: I am struck by the brute force of the storm wind | Environment

TA nighttime storm battered the landscape and tore the remaining leaves from the beech trees, with only a few small oaks maintaining a grip on their senescent foliage. The frost followed by heavy rains reduced much of the leaf litter in the track to a rutting mulch, which muffles the sound of my footsteps as I make my way towards the coast.

Away from the dubious shelter of the hills, I realize how strong the north wind is still, kicking up short, furious waves even in the sheltered waters at the mouth of the Afon Rheidol. Plumes of beech leaves swirl at the confluence of the waters at the mouth of the port; a line of foam marks the margin of the salt water. In the middle of the stream, a solitary cormorant stands defiantly on a pebble bank, as the wind pulls on its plumage, iridescent under the late afternoon sun.

A cormorant stands on a pebble bank in the middle of the stream. Photography: John Gilbey

South of the harbor entrance, the large pebble bank at the back of the beach blocks a bit of the wind, but as I climb on its ridge, I am pushed back by the brutal pressure of the gale. Flakes of foam, torn from the confusion of the breaking waves around the harbor wall, rise like beaten snow around the curve of the bay. Groups of seabirds fly low, close to the water, seeking shelter above the river.

I climb south over the stones, a stronger gust almost separates me from my hat, as patches of cloud send lines of shadow across the sea and split the sun into shards of light. The cliffs in front of me begin to take shape with the mist and spray from the crashing waves. Heavier clouds, almost entirely obscuring the sun, begin to drain the color from the scene, leaving the landscape even colder.

Icy to the bone, I take one last glance across the bay, where the last strip of light highlights the coast beyond Aberaeron, and turn back to shelter. Heading straight into the wind, I buried my hands in my pockets and thought about where I might find both beer and an open fire.

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