Reflections on a year of walking, mapping, and discussing intertidal space on the Severn Estuary. 

HIRAETH. That word found in Cymraeg that refers to a deep yearning for a something remembered, yet unobtainable, something richer in our hearts and minds than it may ever have been in reality.

On my last walk to the seawall I am overwhelmed by a deep sadness, by a feeling of having not quite done enough, or not quite the right things. I am here on this land as a native and a visitor; it is both familiar and distant and I feel a longing to re-embed myself here on my childhood lands whilst simultaneously being drawn back to the life I have built elsewhere, uprooted and replanted, but with the memory of past earth still latent in mind and body. A feeling of not quite belonging anymore, of re-entering a city with its heart replaced, transformed so as to be unrecognisable; and I find myself clinging to the river and its familiar bridges, its passage to the sea, rather than foraging for remnants of old landmarks by which I might orientate myself. The estuary, the flatlands of expansive shimmering mud unchanged yet changing every hour, feels like home, the big sky offering space to be. Crossing the Severn Bridge as the sun sets into the channel, over water merging with mud in one smooth shining plain where it is impossible to tell where land ends and sea begins, I feel a release in my heart because I have returned, I know this land and this land knows me. And now I am tucked down below the sea-facing side of the wall, which today provides a peaceful sanctuary on this most threatened and temporary part of this place as the tide retreats. 

I realise the magnitude of what this work suggests, and I wonder, if this place were no longer here to return to, where would I call “home”? 

I try to photograph a stunning murmuration but it is impossible to capture this in stillness, the constant movement, ebb and flow of birds and water in perfect synchronicity. Warm air, a blue dragonfly and bees still hovering amongst the almost-gone blackberries. Sun today after yesterdays relentless rains.

I notice the desire lines cut into the seawall by visitors eager to see the sea, traces of presence carved into the ancient landscape. We are drawn to the water, as the water draws nearer to us. 

Will we ever have done enough? What do we want to leave for those who come next? Let us drag ourselves out of hiraeth and focus on finding gobaith, for we will all need this on the next stage of our journey.

Alison Neighbour 


Standing here, along the edge of the Severn Estuary, I feel at the edge of where land and sea meet. At a space in constant flux where the tide ebbs and flows, revealing new treasures for us to find every time we visit – some, gifts from the nature that surrounds me, and others, the no-so-wanted left behind evidence of the people who have been here before. Looking up, the sky looms large with whispy clouds streaking across the pinkish sky, and as the powerful tide makes its way further towards me, I feel quite small in this place that I know is constantly changing. 

This place is not where I come from, but the tides, slowly filling the creeks of the saltmarsh, inching ever closer to the seawall, and their signalling of the sea and coast being nearby, make me feel connected somehow – not just to here, but to the changing waters and landscapes of coastal areas around the world. What do those changes look and feel like? How do the clouds trace their away across those skies? What would I find as I made my way towards the sea in other places? How are the same, and what makes them different?  

Change here is as inevitable as the incoming tides. And yet, as I breathe in air tinged with the saltiness of the sea mixed with a hint of drying seaweed, to me the smells of the estuary, I wonder how ready we are for that change and what the future holds?

Emma McKinley

Daeth Chwefror fel corwynt, gyda’r tonnau llwyd yn rhuo wrth i ni gerdded at y morglawdd yn aer main dechrau’r flwyddyn. Roedd amryw o gwestiynau i’w pendroni wrth gerdded ac wrth gyd-greu mapiau o’r ardal.

Lle mae’r môr yn dechrau?

Lle mae ein lle?

Dim un yn hawdd i’w ateb, ond bu sgwrsio prysur am bob un, wrth roi digon i feddwl amdano tan tro nesaf.

Wrth i fywyd newydd y Gwanwyn gymryd gafael â gors Magwyr, cyrhaeddodd hefyd y goleudai i’w cartrefi newydd –  i’r syniadau, sgyrsiau a chymunedau ymgartrefu o’u hamgylch. Dechreuodd y nosweithiau ymestyn, gan ddarparu safbwynt newydd i wylio, i glywed, ac i deimlo nerth newydd y môr, yr afon, y gwynt a’r lleuad.

Daeth yr Haf â’r heulwen, glaswellt hir, blancedi picnic ac anturiaethau newydd. Cyfle i ymgolli yn y llwybrau hirion rhwng y goleudai a’r môr. Rhwng y presennol a beth allai fod y  dyfodol. Niferus yw’r llwybrau y gallwn eu cymryd rhwng y ddau, ac i ni eu cerdded wrth ddilyn yr afon o’r ddinas gyda sgyrsiau ein hunain yn llifo, yn pyllu, ac yn symud ymlaen tu hwnt i’r golwg.

Trodd yr Haf i’r Hydref gyda dail yn newid lliw, yr awel yn troi’n oerach a gwlypter o dan droed. Daeth y nosweithiau hir i’n croesawu unwaith eto, gan roi cyfle i’r lleuad a’r llanw ddisgleirio yn nerth eu perthynas unwaith eto. 

Wrth i’r goleuadau, sgyrsiau a gorymdeithiau lwybro tuag at gartrefi newydd yng Nghymru ac yn Sagar, mae’r cwestiynau yn fyw o hyd. Does dim ateb clir, does dim un ffordd i bopeth ddigwydd. Fe wnaiff natur fel y mynnai hi, ond rydym yma yng nghanol newid. Gallwn ddysgu gan rheiny sy’n byw gydag un math o newid ar hyn o bryd. Efallai bydd ein newid ni yn De Cymru gydag effeithiau gwahanol, ond newid bydd.

Daw’r llanw eto, gyda nerth y lleuad yn ei dynnu yn agosach fyth yng Nghasnewydd, ym Magwyr, ac yn Sagar.

Elen Roberts