About dimexcuses

Stuff and nonsense from Wild West Wales

DimExcuses Start of Spring Walk 2018.

It all started with the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk, a yearly walk in September, 19 miles in 9 hours taking in the best of the South Gower Coast. Then there was the DimExcuses Mid Winter Walk, a 10K on the rest of the South Gower coast racing the sunset from Pwll Du Bay to Mumbles.

Now we are aiming to do four DimExcuses walks every year, with each one on the equinox of each season. So this was the first DimExcuses Start of Spring Walk. Starting at Gowerton Station we took the train to Pembrey and Bury Port Station and then basically walked a half marathon back along the Wales Coast Path.

I tracked the walk in two legs, before and after lunch. You can see the Strava data for the first leg here, and also a Relive video of the first part here.

We had the DimExcues Dogs Oakley and Molly with us, but Molly only did the first walk because she is a bit small for a walk of that length.

Oakley is big enough to do the whole lot and take it in his stride.

You can see the Strava for the second leg here, and another Relive video of the second part here.

It was a great walk, and we were lucky with the weather. The only issue was that the whole 14 miles were on tarmac, so that took a hard toll on knees, hips and backs. We are used to the grass and sand of the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk.

It was a cracking day and we did it all in about six hours including lunch. A full gallery of all photos is below, just click on a thumbnail to see the larger photos. So we are now thinking about a DimExcuses Mid Summer Walk, you should come on that one, DimExcuses.

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Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 4.

This is the forth gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. 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 2018. Gallery 3.

This is the third gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. 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 2018. Gallery 2

This is the second gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. 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 2018. Gallery 1.

This is the first gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

The Beast from the East meets the Gower Monster. Darth Mannion 2018.

The Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Challenge, the Gower cross county half marathon is tough at the best of times. You can see how tough it was in previous years here:

2015 Darth Mannion

2016 Darth Mannion

2017 Darth Mannion

This year the weather forecast was really bad. The Beast from the East weather system that brought the country to a stand still a week ago was making its return with bitter winds, low temperatures and snow forecast.

Some of the sea submersion had to be left out of the route, because of a real threat of participant hypothermia. The route was also changed to take out the steep decent at Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Valley featured more. You can see why the Pennard Castle Decent was wisely removed in these amazing photos from 2015.

The race is getting so popular that the field is getting larger every year. This meant that by the time everyone had passed me I was unable to get to Pwll Du Bay, as I have done in previous years, but this allowed me to get some new shots in Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay. The full galleries can be seen in the links below.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 1.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 2.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 3.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 4.

There are some epic shots as this Monster Gower Run hit the Beast from the East head on, but there were also a lot of smiles over a lot of miles. I am sure many will be back next year and hoping for a return to more spring like weather, DimExcuses.

There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Three Cliffs, Pobbles, Winter 2017.

Winter is upon us.  Temperatures are barely above zero and snow is hitting the UK with a vengeance.  Gower may have eascaped the worst of the snow but it is bitter cold with biting winds.  Yet as Ranulph Fiennes is so famously quoted as saying “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”.

I am permanently wearing a baselayer, I have some cracking Skins thermal ones and I have broken out my snowboarding clothing. My dog Molly is a hardy little french bulldog cross but even she can’t go out without a coat on at the moment.

Molly as a great waterproof coat with a fake fur collar that almost covers her big ears.  It is fleeced too. She cuts quite the dash in it.

It is hard to fit beach walks in at this time of year, as well as the tough weather, there is little light in the day.  So when we do get a chance we just stick to our Three Cliffs Bay loop.

It is the most popular walk on this blog, and probably our favourite walk too. It is the “go to” walk when we want to show visitors around. It is 5km and takes in Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.

I track my walks using Strava, you can see this walk here. I also use an app called Relive that makes 3D aerial videos of your mapped Strava activities. You can see a Relive video of this walk here. It is really useful to plan out walking this yourself if you have never been there before.

Molly and I were lucky, the wind dropped and the whole walk was undertaken in a lovely stillness that is rare on the exposed Gower Coast.

One of the benefits of this time of year is that you do get the beach to yourself.

Though Molly is really only interested in sticks.

There is a rugged beauty to Gower in the winter.  I think it is the light and the dramatic skies.

The sand levels change from storm to storm in the winter. This is most noticeable when trying to walk through the cave within Three Cliffs to get to Pobbles Bay. it can vary from a sandy walk, rocky scramble or a couple of jumps over sea water filled pools.

None of which is a bother to Molly, she is an all terrain dog, who takes it all in her stride.

She is happy on the rocks and in the rock pools.

That winter storm sand movement has created some spectacular pools.

But there are still huge expanses of sand on the lower tides, plenty of room for a small dog.

As we walked back up from Pobbles Bay to Pennard we noticed warning signs up about Portuguese Man O War strandings. These aren’t technically jellyfish, but a colony organism that is very similar. Their long tentacles can cause a very painful sting. There have been loads washed up in South West UK this autumn and winter. I know a lot people still out there surfing and I haven’t heard of any incidents, but it can’t harm to be wary of them. As they tend to be on the shoreline, they are more of a hazard to dogs, so keep an eye out for them.

It is always worth getting out and blowing the cobwebs away at this time of year. Here is Molly having one last look at the sea before making our way back to the warm indoors.

It is still a long way to spring, but there are plenty of reasons to get out walking down the beach. Just make sure you wear the right clothes, DimExcuses.

You might as well swim it! Swansea Bay 10k 2017.

 

There are rain showers and then there is basically being within a rain cloud! It started raining half an hour before this years’ Swansea Bay 10k, and it did not stop, it just varied in intensity. I always photograph Swansea Bay 10k whatever the weather. You can see photos from previous years in the links below.

Photos of Swansea Bay 10k 2016.

Photos of Swansea Bay 10k 2015.

Photos of Swansea Bay 10k 2014.

Photos of Swansea Bay 10k 2013.

Everyone was so wet they may as well have just swam the distance. The runners were soaked, and us spectators were both wet and cold. It was a baptism of fire (or should I say water) for runners new to the race like DimExcuses MTBer Phil Marshall above.

The runners were pleased to see us at the 8km mark, Lizzie Marshall here managing a drenched smile. Proving our hardcore, me and my friend Ade were proper DimExcuses standing for an hour and a half in the relentless rain to get the action shots. Like this one of Mark Gosney powering up the Blackpill Hill.

It was great to see all the regulars and the new faces, like Rob Griff swapping his skis for trainers below.

There is a full gallery of all the pictures from the race below. If you would like to run it next year, here is my guide to running the race km by km. Maybe I will be photographing you next year, DimExcuses.

Luck runs out. DimExcuses End of Summer Walk 2017.

The DimExcuses End of Summer Walk is in its ninth year, and this is my 6th time on this epic big Gower walk. We have always been lucky. This 19 mile, 9 hour end of summer ritual has generally been great weather, and our irresponsible approach to never checking the tide times has never stung us too badly…

The start of this years walk was no exception. It hasn’t been the best summer, but as we waited by the bus stop in Killay, to get the first Gower bus to Rhossili, the sun was starting to sneak out.

There were eleven of us on the bus, and we got over the first hurdle of getting the driver to let our massive wolf on! Technically a Husky, German Shepard cross, Oakley is definitely quite dire wolf in appearance.

Arriving at Rhossili we were met with End of Summer Walk first timer Lauren, bringing us up to twelve walkers. Lauren wasn’t the only new feet, we were also joined by Ellie, Ben, Ian, Ffion and Harry, all who had never undertaken this epic effort before. A quick team picture with the famous Rhossili Bay in the background and we were off!

A forced march cross-country taking in the amazing South Gower cliffs and we were soon in Port Eynon.

The fantastic staff at the Captains Table had reserved us a table and bent the breakfast deadline to sort us out with breakfasts of varying size. Obviously I had a big breakfast as it was a big walk. After thoroughly enjoying our breakfasts, it was team photo two, before making the sheltered coastal walk to Oxwich. The weather was fantastic, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were (at this point).

We were soon sitting at the Oxwich Bay Hotel enjoying a pint in the sunshine. At that point friends and relatives were ringing us to say the rain was coming down in sheets in Swansea and heading our way.

We were still in buoyant mood, we could see the rainfall in the distance but we seemed to be skirting past it.

It was at this point we realised that it was almost high tide and Tor Bay was totally cut off by the tide.  This meant we have to do a huge sandy climb over Little Tor. The view was quite spectacular back to Oxwich Bay.

It was then that that rain hit us. Right when we were most exposed on Penmaen Cliffs…

…and we still had the problem that it was high tide at Three Cliffs Bay and we had another hard sandy climb ahead of us. Our luck had well and truly run out. This was the hardest the End of Summer Walk has ever been. I even thought we would not make it to Southgate.

We made it to the Southgate Club like drowned rats. There was talk of abandoning the walk there, but that was quickly dismissed as not the DimExcuses way. The new walkers were some of the most keen to press on to the end! My girlfriend Sharon and our dog Molly came to our rescue bringing some dry clothes to the Southgate Club and taking our drenched ones. Apologies to the football crowd in the Southgate who suddenly had eleven soaking walkers changing around them in the busy pub.

As we changed the weather opened up again and we continued on to Pwll Du Bay before the final climb to Bishopston and the Joiners Arms. Sharon came to our rescue again ferrying people back to their cars in Killay.

Next year we will change the end of the walk to double back to the Gower Inn which is on the bus route back to the cars.

So our luck did finally run out, but we took it in our stride and completed the ninth DimExcuses End of Summer Walk.  A full gallery of images is below. Next year is the tenth anniversary walk, so you need to be on it with us, DimExcuses.

 

Riders on the Storm 2017.

Every now and then the weather is just too bad for surfing the usual breaks and you have to find a sheltered bay and just ride it out. Sometimes these storm days are the most fun.

With high winds, heavy rain, very unsettled weather and a big swell this weekend, surfing Rhossilli or Llangenith just wasn’t an option.

So we headed to Caswell Bay during a lull in the storm to surf the steep powerful waves coming in. It was short boards and bodyboards only, with fast suicide drops into these steep closing out waves.

I was joined by Sharon, Fin and our trusty waterproof Nikon S33 camera.

No Molly this time as dogs are still not allowed on Caswell Beach until the end of the month. For full details on the Swansea and Gower Summer dog bans click here.

It was a really wet afternoon, but rain doesn’t really matter when you are surfing, and we had plenty of sunny spells.

It was more a day for the bodyboard, but the short board drops were serious fun, even though most drops turned into wipeouts.

Fin was taking the bodyboard all the way to the shore in the powerful white water.

The storm force waves really teach young surfers about the power of the waves. It is great to see someone concentrating on the conditions and learning a lot.

I like to pass the baton down to the next generation of Wild West Wales Surfers.

I love that sharing of the enjoyment of just being in the sea and the infectious fun of surfing. The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.

These powerful waves were small but really good fun.

The waves were impressive in shape as the walls rose up.

We really enjoyed and it was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

I never regret getting in the water no matter what the conditions. Hopefully I will get in a lot more as Surftember turns into October, DimExcuses.