11 – Mill Bay

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Stop 11: (1000 m) Mill Bay – SM 809 035

Stop 11: Mill Bay – SM 809 035

The name ‘Mill Bay’ is marked on maps from as long ago as 1595, although there is no evidence of a mill here now, unless the masonry wall at the top of the beach is the remains of a mill. Nearby are the few remaining parts of a ship that was wrecked here in 1964. Luckily it was only a vessel being towed to Swansea for scrapping.

Mill Bay was the site of an important event in English history. On Sunday 7th August 1485, Henry Tudor (Henry VII), landed in the bay from his exile in Brittany. He marched inland to England, on the way collecting an army of 5000 men. On 22nd August he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, bringing the ‘Wars of the Roses’ to an end, and starting the Tudor dynasty. (The remains of Richard III were discovered underneath a car park in Leicester in 2012. They have been reburied at Leicester Cathedral.)

As at Castlebeach, a small stream runs along the bottom of the valley. These streams are far too small to have cut through the cliffs to form the valley – a much greater force was needed. This was supplied by melting of ice after the last glacial period, colloquially known as an ‘ice age’. This last glacial period in the Earth’s recent geological history lasted from about 110,000 to 10,000 years ago, with the maximum extent of glaciation about 18,000 years before the present day. The southern limit of glaciers in this part of Britain was at about the latitude of the Dale peninsula. Since then the climate has warmed, and the ice sheets have retreated. (Although technically we are still in an ‘ice age’ since ice sheets still cover much of the poles.)

At the maximum stage of glaciation, sea level fell by about 75 metres (compare with the elevated sea levels discussed at Stop 8). After this the ice melted and the glaciers retreated northwards. Vast volumes of melt water flowed down the valleys of the time, making them deeper and wider – much more so than could have been formed by the small streams existing today.

Continue up the hill to the buildings on St Ann’s Head. Beside the path above the bay is an information board describing the landing of Henry Tudor.

The path continues past a derelict walled garden and up across a field towards the lighthouse on St. Ann’s Head.

12 – St Ann’s Head Lighthouses

10 – West Blockhouse Point