I particularly wanted to visit a favourite place of mine, St Non's chapel and holy well, which are to be found on the cliff tops a mile to the south of St David's. St Non is the mother of St David, patron saint of Wales, and to my mind, the more fascinating of the two. Although a nun, she was raped (or seduced, depending which story you listen to) by a visiting nobleman. Non was obliged to leave the safety of the convent while pregnant and eventually gave birth alone in a terrible storm, on the cliff top.
but a short distance away a more recent chapel has been built, close to a retreat house. The location in bleak in the winter, but in the summertime, swallows make a home in the rafters.
the chapel is particularly interesting because of its feminine focus. While we might expect the central stained glass window above the altar to be dedicated to St Non, she is not alone. To her right is the better known St Bride or Brigid of Ireland, the first woman, so legend has it, to be ordained a Bishop (see another of my posts, the Good Shepherdess), and to her left, the lesser known St Winifred, also of Wales.
In short, it's all women up front around the altar. There are a couple of male saints on other windows, David being one, but far less prominent. I find this quite refreshing - it's one of the things that draws me to the place.
But I also find the landscape itself quite intriguing, because the features of the location are older than the Christian tradition and to me, they too have a distinctly feminine feel.
There's something about this stretch of cliff around St Non's Bay, perhaps more apparent to travellers coming to pay their respects by boat rather than by land. A pilgrim would know which narrow cove to navigate towards as they made their way cautiously around the rocky coastline, because it lies between two distinctive rock arches, one to the left and one to the right of the spring, up on the cliff.
The rocks in one of the easiest places to scramble ashore - from a small boat at least - are a strange, deep reddish purple, shining blood-like with the sea spray.