After the eerily quiet start to the day, storm Ophelia hit north Wales with brutal force from Monday afternoon through into Tuesday.
View from the boardwalk the morning after Ophelia
On Penrhos Beach, the sand cliffs have been eaten into again. There is now a vertically faced step of three to six feet running most of the length of the beach. That means it will be harder to “escape” if you get trapped by the tide on the beach. In addition, the whole of the sand cliff has become unstable again – much like it was after storm Imogen in 2016.
The sand cliffs the length of Penrhos beach have been undermined and are crumbling
Within the newly exposed face of sand, I found this perfectly preserved Jewsbury and Brown Spardal bottle, complete with its rubber screw cap. Jewsbury and Brown were taken over by Schweppes in 1964. Perhaps it is possible that this bottle has lain in the sands for more than 50 years…
Jewsbury and Brown Spardal Mineral Water bottle complete with its original vulcanite screw stopper
Detail on the top of the J and B mineral water bottle stopper
Incidentally, Met Eireann (met.ie) generally provide a more accurate forecast for Anglesey than the UK Met Office does (the Met Office seem to think Cardiff is synonymous with Wales…and that if weather isn’t affecting London, it doesn’t matter anyway…).
Yesterday’s tide line on Penrhos beach comprised almost nothing but spiny spider crabs, hundreds, probably thousands of them. It looked like crabageddon.
Spiny spider crab shells
In fact, I am assured that these aren’t actually dead crabs, they are just the shells from the annual moult. Which explains why there were no birds taking any interest and no smells either. Somewhere out to sea there will be thousands of naked spiny spider crabs waiting for their new shells to grow.
I was puzzled how the crabs could manage to shed their shells, whilst seeming to leave the shells intact. How was that possible? Then it was explained to me that the shell can hinge open (hinging at the front) and the crab wriggles out the rear. Once I knew that, I had to go and check it out for myself.
Here’s a freshly washed up crab shell. You can tell it’s empty by giving it a tap and it sounds hollow.
And, sure enough, if you lift the back edge of the shell, it easily opens up to show you the empty space inside:)
I also spotted this “jellied” crab…
Earlier this year, the remains of the Athena were more exposed than they have been for a long time.
The wreck of the brig Athena in May 2016
But gradually the sand level on Penrhos beach has got higher and higher and now you’d be hard pressed to even spot where the Athena lies.
The Athena looking towards Llanddwyn May 2016
The Athena early October 2016
The last stubs of the Athena poking through the sand 25th October 2016
(Maybe she was fed up of being photographed so much!)
Update: September 2017
The crew are once again back at Newborough to film the second series of the “horse mystery”. The series filmed last autumn was released this summer and is called Free Rein: the official Netflix page for it is here.
Whilst filming is going on you’d be well advised to take special care if you’re walking, cycling, or especially horse riding through the forest – the crew hurtle around the forest tracks in their vans and mules with little consideration for other forest users…
20th September 2016
Hot on the heels of the Sandman Triathlon, Newborough Forest and beaches have now been somewhat taken over by crew and their vehicles shooting for a “horsey teen mystery”.
Cast, including beautiful horses, and crew by Llanddwyn Island this morning
Metro has an article about the production here: there is no name for it yet and it will be aired in 2017.
Storm Imogen has coincided with the new moon spring tides. The waves are being blown hard against the sand cliffs on Penrhos Beach, eating away the faces that had already become unstable from the incessant rains and winds.
Storm Imogen driving the waves onto Penrhos Beach
Sand slip – before the storm (now gone)
The sea has come right through one of the breaches NRW dug last winter and is now onto the Postman’s Path
Although the winds are set to ease and the waves get smaller, the tides over the next few days will be even higher, so there will probably be more changes to the shoreline before the week is out.
Amongst the flotsam washed ashore by the storm was one of the pink HP printer cartridges the BBC reported on at the start of the year. The cartridges went overboard from a shipment more than a year ago and have been washing up on shores around the UK and Europe ever since. This is the first one I’ve found.
HP cartridge – the first I’ve found
The stormy tide seems to have swept away much of the goose barnacle covered flotsam and jetsam that was accumulating on the beach. Each year there seem to be more and more of these barnacles washed ashore.
Goose barnacles on a glass bottle
Goose barnacles on a plastic bottle
The recent stormy weather has brought patches of black sands all along the beaches.
A variegated scallop shell on the black sand
Sometimes black sands are caused by oil or coal pollution, but these black sands seem to be solely made from smashed up sea shells and their filmy black coatings. They are, in fact, just a very very thin coating on the surface of the sands.
These black sands are “clean” – they don’t smear or smell
Black sands, Penrhos Beach, Newborough
Amongst the black sands are huge numbers of intact sea shells: whelks, razors, scallops, otters, mussels, oysters… and these in turn are attracting lots of gulls and wading birds to enjoy the feast.
Blue sea, blue sky! Penrhos Beach, Newborough, Xmas Eve 2015
Penrhos Beach looking back towards Llanddwyn and the Llyn beyond
Waves crashing around Llanddwyn
…and a tiny little toy turtle washed ashore!
Seasons Greetings from a (briefly) sunny Newborough, Anglesey.