St Bride’s Bay. Cormorants roost on Stack Rocks and large vessels wait for anchorage in Milford Haven.
Behind the rugged red-and-grey cliffs, bent sometimes into extraordinary caves, broken sometimes by sandy bays, is a hinterland of undulating pasture and isolated farms. In 1977, this was the setting for an episode of modern folklore.
It began on 4 February when a group of children saw what they believed to be a silver spaceship hovering above trees behind the school. The headmaster asked them to draw what they’d seen under exam conditions, and received consistent results. Hundreds of strange sightings were subsequently reported across St Bride’s Bay.
As the year progressed, the reports became stranger. Rosa Granville of Haven Fort Hotel reported an object “like the moon falling down” in a field behind her house, out of which came tall silver characters.
The Coombs at Ripperston Farm were so terrified by a shimmering figure outside their window they had to be evacuated. “And we’re not talking about a big softy man working nine-to-five in an office,” said PC Jones.
In an unusual move, the MOD commissioned a discreet inquiry. They suspected pranksters may have been responsible for the silver aliens, noting “it is perhaps not irrelevant that a local factory manufactures clothing of this type for the oil installation in Milford Haven”. Some of the pranksters confessed in later years; one recalled hiding in a rhododendron bush. But they didn’t confess to everything.
Pembrokeshire has many military bases, but residents were used to the lights, craft and flares from RAF Brawdy. RAF engineer Gordon Bowden himself saw “strange lights out at sea that accelerated at such phenomenal speed” his military training couldn’t account for it. A particularly secretive American base turned out to have been merely monitoring Russian submarines. And whatever the schoolchildren saw, has yet to be explained.
From a six-mile stretch of coast path between St Bride’s and Broad Haven, you can see Stack Rocks, believed by some to be a UFO base. Ripperston Farm lies just a mile across the fields, and the former Haven Fort Hotel stands gaunt and gothic on the Little Haven headland. And on a stealth mission out in the bay, a gannet quarters the air and spears the sea.