About dimexcuses

Stuff and nonsense from Wild West Wales

Almost Summer. Three Cliffs Bay, 28th May 2017.

Finally summer is nearly upon us, leap frogging over a cool but dry start to spring in South Wales. So as we head into the second bank holiday in May 2017 there was no where else to go but Three Cliffs Bay, Gower.

This time Molly, Sharon and I brought along some family and friends.

We took our regular Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs and Pobbles Bay loop. Pennard Golf Club have done some path work over spring that has improved the walk past the water tower. Molly knows the way like the back of her paw, so she was soon at Pennard Castle.

Suns out, tongues out!

Everyone else wasn’t far behind. The view at Pennard Castle is one of the highlights of Gower.

We were there on a massive low tide, so we could drop into the valley and walk into Three Cliffs Bay. It was one of those low tides where you could have walked all the way from Oxwich on the sand if you wanted.

Perfect conditions for the DimExcuses end of summer walk. But seeing as summer is almost upon us it is not even near the time of year for that walk. Not that Molly was bothered she loves our Three Cliffs Walks.

So spring has almost gone and it is almost summer, plenty of time to get down the beach, DimExcuses.

Spring has Sprung. Three Cliffs Bay March 2017.

Spring has sprung. After a relatively cold snap to end winter in Gower, we have bounced into a cracking spring at the end of March 2017.

So it was back to business for Sharon, Molly and me as we headed out in the sun on our classic Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs loop in South Gower. We were joined by Molly’s newest friend Max and his family.

Max is a Jack Russell puppy. He seemed totally un-phased by the walk and was soon tearing it up with Molly.

Three Cliffs Valley was looking fantastic in the spring sun as we approached Three Cliffs Bay itself.

The key thing with Three Cliffs is to watch the tide, and we demonstrated that by getting through the famous cave that separates the bay from Pobbles just in time. Max left it to the very last second before the tide cut us off.

Molly was soon showing Max the fun that can be had on a trip to the beach.

We finished of the wak with a stop in Onboard Surf & Coffee Shop on the way home. It is a great place for a coffee and a cake, and totally dog friendly. Alas we missed the fresh Gower doughnuts again. One day I shall have one, it is a mission now.

Molly was totally shattered, it is hard work keeping up with a puppy!

A cracking day and a great start to Spring. Hopefully we will have a lot more of these walks this year, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 4.

This is the forth gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 3.

This is the third gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 2.

This is the second gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 1.

Here is the first of four galleries from today’s Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge. To see this gallery of the extreme Gower half marathon click on any of the thumbnails to open the album.

Mud, sweat and tears. The Darth Mannion 2017.

This is my third year photographing the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge (to give it it’s full name).

You can see photos from 2016 here, and photos from 2015 here.

This year was the biggest and best so far. The route was longer, but still included the fiver runs and sea dips that this extreme Gower half marathon is famous for. The number of runners was also up with well over 400 runners this year.

The weather was worse than previous years with high winds and heavy mist. How can you even have those two weather conditions at the same time?

But it is the spirit of the Darth that everyone gets round the course and finish with big smiles.

I am slowing working through my photos and I will get them all up by the end of the weekend. The following links will be clickable once they are available.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 1.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 2.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 3.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 4.

Time for me to get editing, DimExcuses.

Riders on the Snow Storm. Les Arcs 2017.

This winter we decided to stop riding waves and start riding mountains instead. Gathering a group of 22 from Wild West Wales, including the Totally Minged and Big Lush crews, we flew to Chambrey, France.

From there it was a two hour transfer up into the Alps at Les Arcs.

In Les Arcs the villages are named after their altitude in meters, Les Arcs 1600 and Les Arcs 1800 for example. We had to go to the top, didn’t we? We got a fantastic Chalet in Les Arcs 2000.

Living at that altitude was surprisingly challenging. Climbing a flight of steps will take your breath away even before you start skiing. The air was also very dry, and with unusually sunny weather when we were there, the Chalet was boiling hot.

Exploring the mountain was great and Sharon and I really enjoyed the mountain villages.

Though we had days of glorious sunshine these were interspersed with massive blizzards and snow dumps. We weren’t short of fresh snow. Folksey here taking a breather from riding powder.

We skied everyday, even in the snow storms. Though sometimes we did have to retreat from the whiteout…

…or just face it head on.

Snowboarding and skiing is really grueling but massively rewarding. You really appreciate the rest you get on the chairlifts, and Les Arcs is full of great chairlifts.

Not content with living at 2000m, we tried to ski as high as we could. The Totally Minged guys made it to 2700m, but bad weather stopped skiers going any further.

Before snowboarding down Ben found probably the highest altitude toilet in Europe.

They did allow Donna, Sharon and I up to Aiguille Rouge at 3200m on foot which put us at the top of the alps. Donna’s phone even welcomed her to Italy! Sharon insisted on getting a photo at the top with her Onboard Surf & Coffee Shop T-shirt, as we had started our holiday week with a bacon and cream cheese bagel there back in Swansea, days ago.

There is something very calming about being at the top of the Alps.

The views were fantastic, almost as breathtaking as the altitude. We skied the whole mountain from 2700m all the way down to 1800m. It was great to be in a big group of fun characters, from the flying dragons…

…to the relentless energy teenagers Ben and Ellie.

And it is good to be with your mates when you have to do that hard climb out of a wrong turn.

We should have read the sign.

I took a wrong turn off piste that left me a long way from the path,chest deep in a snow drift that took 15 breathless minutes to climb out of. Oh well, bad decisions make good stories and Folksey is still laughing.

It was not the only time that I was reminded that you have to respect the mountain and respect the weather, and that if you look after your kit it will look after you. My snow goggles saw some serious use (and less serious photo use).

They saw action from sunrise…

…to sunset.

The need to respect the mountain and weather was emphasized daily as the helicopters dropped bombs and triggered controlled avalanches, like this one above our resort.

I think you can see that solemn respect* in these guys as they are about to hop on to a red run in a blizzard. *cough.

We all survived, grinning ear to ear, but we were far to soon back on the plane and heading home. Great days and nights with great people. All that was left to do was leave the snow sunsets back in Les Arcs.

I admit, I am hooked, lets do this every winter, DimExcuses.

#StormWatch. Low Sun & low tide, Caswell to Langland.

Gower Sunset

What a weekend of weather, massive tides, storms and snow. Though the Gower salty air made sure we had no snow, we still had blue clouds passing us over the rocks exposed by the huge low tide.

#StormWatch Caswell Bay

Molly the French Bulldog and I were on our usual Gower Coast #StormWatch, but the storm had long since past Gower and we were left to walk in the following calm and drink up the low sun as we walked from Caswell to Langland Bay and back.

Caswell Bay January 2016

Sometimes the light on these winter coast walks gives the best Gower views.

Low tide Langland Bay

Molly was more interested in playing on the beach.

Molly DimExcuses

But I made her do the whole walk from Caswell to Langland Bay and back.

Caswell to Langland Walk

It is a fantastic walk, about 6.2km there and back. We were even treated to a rainbow over Swansea Bay that landed right on Tata Steel in Port Talbot. Hopefully a good omen for them. There is steel at the end of the rainbow.

Rainbow over Tata Steel Port Talbot

Today was a day when the sunsets eclipse the rainbows.

Sunset Caswell to Langland walk

The low sun soon left us, but we got a good walk in from Caswell to Langland, and hopefully we will get a few more this Winter, DimExcuses.

In the Shadow of the Sunset. DimExcuses Mid Winter Walk 2016.

Shadow of the sunset. Pwll Du

Last year we started a new tradition, the DimExcuses Winter Walk. You can see all the photos from 2015’s winter walk here. It is the sister walk to the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk, which you can read about here.

Winter Sunset Sun, Gower 2016

Starting where the summer walk ends, in the Joiners Arms in Bishopston, we headed down to Pwll Du Bay, Gower. We got onto the Wales Coastal Path at Pwll Du just after half past two, which gave us two hours of low winter sun to walk the Wales Coast Path all the way to Mumbles.

Low Winter Sun, Gower 2016

It was a fantastic afternoon, cool crisp and sunny. Eight of us and two dogs made the walk with the low sun at our backs.

Brandy Cove Winter 2016

We were soon in Brandy Cove, and on our way to Caswell Bay.

Caswell Bay Winter 2016

With a low tide and low sun, lots of people were walking off their Christmas mince pies on Caswell beach. In the shadow of the sunset behind us it was important now to get around to Langland Bay while we still had the light.

Shadow of the Sunset Caswell Bay

With a four thirty sunset, we didn’t have much time. The sun was rapidly setting behind us as we made our way passed Langland Bay, Rotherslade Bay and on to Limeslade Bay.

Winter Sunset Gower 2016

The light was incredible as the sun set behind us as we finally reached Mumbles.

Last light Gower 2016

The walk was about 12km, and as we regrouped for a pint by the fire in the Park Inn, Mumbles, we had one very big, very tired dog on our hands.  Oakley has a few DimExcuses Gower walks under his belt now.

Oakley

And we also had one little dog who really didn’t know what to make of the one big dog!

When Molly met Oakley

It was a great walk, that proved that the Gower Coast is for life not just Christmas Summer. We will definitely going again next year, DimExcuses.