that happened last Saturday brought home to me just how long
it has been since I was involved in an incident at Worms Head.
My new ‘career’ there seemed to have started quite
dramatically and people were beginning to think that it was
me who was attracting incidents, but suddenly all the excitement
stopped and things were much more relaxed. Which is far from
a bad thing.
biggest part of the job is making sure that everyone who crosses
over to The Worm are sufficiently informed of the tide times
and so return safely and full of excitement about their adventure.
You can break it down and say that it is just a walk but it
is more than that, it has a rather special charm. We talk to
a great number of the public who come from all corners of the
world and I think I speak for all watchkeepers when I say that
we feel pride when people express their delight at their visit
to our little peninsula at the end of Gower.
was a day full of promise, the weather was exceptional and the
light on Rhossili beach gave amazing clarity over the four and
a half miles to Bury Holmes at its far end. As we were driving
down the track we could see that the causeway would either be
clearing or flooding, either way it was likely that there would
be no emergencies. We park a short distance from the lookout
and walk the last few hundred yards, it was 9.45 and the sun
was warm. The routine is always the same, one of us goes round
the left hand side of the hut while the other goes to the right,
checking the emergency telephone as he passes. I took the left
and went on to the cliff edge to check the causeway. A fisherman
had established himself in the middle of the partial flood so
I presumed the tide was receding but on checking I was horrified
to find that the opposite was true. The current as the water
gets deeper is extremely strong and will easily sweep someone
away and the causeway is tricky enough to walk over when the
tide is out. One slip could be fatal.
hurried out with the siren and gave a long blast but he didn’t
turn his head, it was a quiet and clear morning and unless his
hearing was impaired it was not possible that he hadn’t
heard. I gave him another blast and then a third. This time
he turned and made his way to shallower water, he was wading
up to his thighs, his situation was critical. He found a rock,
stood on it and cast his line once again, this man was determined.
With the causeway flooding if he were to fall he would have
been carried away and although the lifeboat station is quite
close the lifeboat is crewed by volunteers who have to be summoned,
by the time they would be on the scene they would be searching
for a body. I persisted with the siren until he moved out of
danger. He continued to fish but in another area and closer
to the shore.
I was doing this I had noted that three people were walking
along the unflooded part of the causeway towards the island.
The tide would have receded again by five in the afternoon so
it was not critical and they may have intended to spend the
day there. Not exactly wise as there is no shelter from the
sun but they were not in immediate danger. Half an hour later
we saw them scrambling over Low Neck then walking over Devils
had many visitors and we were soon engaged in a tourist information
role which I enjoy because the more you talk about a place,
the more you learn. A lady who has a connection with our particular
NCI station had come in with her annual gift of a tin of biscuits
and we had a very pleasant conversation.
Then I noticed the three young people making their way back
along Low Neck. Soon they would be on the Green waving to get
attention. But no they carried straight on onto the causeway
and were starting an attempt to wade over. I ran out with the
siren yet again and they turned back while Grant, my fellow
watchkeeper informed the Coastguard. Horton Inshore Lifeboat
was summoned as was the local Cliff Rescue team. The strandees
always as soon as the Cliff Rescue team arrives the public are
curious and soon assemble to have a good view of the action.
The lifeboat arrives, and in no time three embarassed lads are
landed and emerge into view to make the walk of shame to the
clifftop and the awaiting audience. One can’t help feeling
sorry for them. They are not the first and certainly will not
be the last. Our presence at the lookout has reduced the annual
number of rescues required from about 25 to about 10 a year.
good to know the effect we are having.
then fills in the Incident Report and happens to look back to
the last stranding and remarks that on that occasion last November
I was one of the watchkeepers on duty. After nine months it
was about time I had another one!