We often have visitors down over the summer. It is amazing that those from further afield tend to embrace the must see sites, while family and friends often neglect the little gems on their doorstep. So this summer we have been sharing our favorite beaches with all our visitors. At the start of the summer we took some family members on our legendary Three Cliffs Pobbles Loop, and last week we introduced some more family to the fantastic Pwll Du Bay.
Our guided trips must be popular, because this week we had more visitors wanting to see the best of South Gower in one day. So we had to start with that legendary Three Cliffs Bay, Pobbles Bay loop that goes past Pennard Castle. You can read all about the route here, or you can see our strava route here. I am also using the Relive app so here is a 3D aerial video of our route too.
The view from Pennard Castle of Three Cliffs Bay is fantastic, as you can see above. You can then walk around the golf course to the headland, or if the tide is out you can take the steep walk down into the valley. You may need a hand…
If you think that looks tricky you should checkout how the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge runners descend it at speed. Once down in Three Cliffs Valley it is a much more of a gentle stroll, that then opens up into an incredible view of Three Cliffs itself. You can read my DimExcuses Three Cliffs Beach Guide here.
With the tide out you can climb through the cave in Three Cliffs and get through to Pobbles Bay. It is a massive beach at low tide.
You can read my DimExcuses Pobbles Beach Guide here. Right out on its furthest east corner is the headland of Shirecombe. You can find some serious rock gullies here full of seaweed and rock pool residents. If you know what you are doing you can look for edible crabs here too, but please respect the tide, it can come in behind you fast!
Once we had taken in both Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay we took the path out of Pobbles up to Pennard Golf Club and back to our van. We took our guests to the dog friendly Beaufort Pub in Kittle (other Gower Pubs are available) for some light bites and a pint of Gower Gold.
A standard Three Cliffs adventure that you can see many times on this website, but today was all about getting the best of South Gower in one day. So we got back in the van and headed to the furthest West point in Gower, the world famous Rhossili Bay. You can read my DimExcuses Rhossili Beach Guide here.
The National Trust have taken over the car park at Rhossili it is really well run with fantastic friendly staff. With loads of parking you have loads that you can see and do. If you are a really hardy walker you can walk down to the beach itself, or if you really want to find your epic you can surf Rhossili Bay! Both activities will require a tough climb back up the path to the headland.
For the less energetic, I would recommend staying on the headland and taking the short walk out to the Coastguard Hut by Worms Head causeway. It is here that you can take the walk to Worms Head itself, but that is a serious adventure that you will have to plan in advance taking into account the tide times. The causeway is only open at certain times of the tide. You wouldn’t want to get stuck out there!
We just stayed on the headland and took in the panoramic views.
All the best of South Gower in one day! Maybe you can take your visitors on the same adventure. DimExcuses.
It hasn’t been the greatest summer, but finally on the last August Bank Holiday the sun decided to put his hat on. So with some family visiting and a french bulldog looking for a good beach walk we headed to the most enigmatic Gower beach, Pwll Du.
It is not easy to find or get to, but all you need to know about Pwll Du Bay can be found in the DimExcuses Pwll Du Beach Guide.
At last some sun, sea and Gower beach fun. So warm that we all went swimming, even Molly! You can see all the pictures in the gallery below. They might tempt you to visit this secret Gower beach yourself, DimExcuses.
What a lovely day in Swansea Bay, unless you were planning on running 10 kilometers on the seafront in Swansea Bay 10k 2016. One of the best road races in the UK, the virtually flat course takes in the wide sweep of Swansea Bay along the Wales Coast Path. You can read a km by km guide to the course here.
The weather was warm with little wind, hot conditions for a long road race. The Kenyans above just took it in their stride leading the race from the beginning. But you didn’t have to wait long to see some familiar Swansea runners. Andrew Frazier setting a blistering pace.
Chris Jones was next smashing almost 10 minutes off his time from last year.
You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2015 here.
You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2014 here.
You can see photos from Swansea Bay 10k 2013 here.
A familiar face in Swansea Bay 10k photos above, Sam Donaldson was running this year too. Here he is at just past the 2km mark at Blackpill.
Closely followed by another Swansea Bay 10k veteran Luke Millward.
Jan Lawrence was next completing her second year in the Swansea Bay 10k, running for the Salisbury NICU premature baby unit that had just treated her latest grandson.
This year the sisters were doing it for themselves, with both my sister and sister-in-law running. First to reach us at 2km was my sister-in-law Caz.
My sister Michelle wasn’t far behind, cheered on by a big family turn out.
The great thing about spectating at Blackpill is as soon as most of the runners are past you the elite runners are running back on the promenade behind you. So I ran over to my usual spot to catch the runners coming over the bridge. Here is the fight for first place.
The first women runner was an equally fierce battle.
The rest of the elite runners were next.
The usual suspects weren’t far behind them. Andrew Frazier not dropping any pace in the heat.
Chris Jones setting a personal best for this race.
There he goes, jostling for places on the hill climb.
Some were taking it a little less seriously.
But there were still some seriously fast runners in the far from ideal hot conditions. It was the lack of wind more than the temperature.
I just missed Sam Donaldson on his return run. Here is his back as he climbs the hill.
Frances Samuel was the next familar face I spotted in the crowds.
The hill being her least favorite part of the course.
Clare was the next to tackle the hill.
I even spotted one of my old students, giving a big thumbs up.
Luke looked pleased to have got to almost 8km into the race.
My nieces were thrilled to see their mum Caz safely past the Blackpill bridge…
…and onto the hill. I thought Grace would start running with her.
My Sister Michelle was marking a return to the 10k after having a baby and was joined by her fellow Paul Popham running club members.
Just demolishing the hill towards the final 2km.
Was that sports development legend Tom Jones I spotted amidst this year’s runners? Surely not?
It was all over too fast.
It certainly was a hot one, and none like it hot! Everyone made it home safe though and all had a big smile on their face. A fantastic Swansea Bay 10k 2016, see you next year, DimExcuses.
This Sunday is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016. One of the best road race 10ks in the UK it has a fantastic almost totally flat route combined with the stunning back drop of Swansea Bay. Here is everything you need to know about the Swansea Bay 10k 2016.
Firstly if you are running the race for the first time, you need to read my km by km guide to running this classic race by clicking here.
When is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016? The race is at 1pm Sunday 18th September 2016.
Where is the Swansea Bay 10k 2016? Starting at St. Helen’s Rugby Ground (SA2 0AR) the race heads 5km down the Mumbles Road to the village of Mumbles where the runners turn around in Oystermouth Square (SA3 4DN). Runners then return on Swansea Promenade to the finish at the Cenotaph on the promenade opposite the St. Helen’s Rugby Ground start.
How do I get to the Swansea Bay 10k 2016? This is a busy race with around 3000 competitors. It will be very busy at the start. Car parking is available around the Rugby Ground, organizers suggest SA1 4PQ for your SatNav. Because that area will be very congested I would advise parking around the Guildhall (SA1 4PE) and a taking a short walk to the start. Other parking is available at Swansea Civic Centre (SA1 3SN).
Allow plenty of time to get there by car. The road closes at 12pm so make sure you get there before that.
From the city centre the following buses will take you to St Helen’s Rugby Ground: 2a 10.00, 10.30, 11.00, 11.30 3a 11.50
Are there photographs of previous Swansea Bay 10ks? I have been photographing the Swansea Bay 10k at Blackpill every year since 2008. Here are the highlights of previous years:
Most importantly how do I get my photo of my heroic Swansea Bay 10k run immortalized in these reviews? I always take photos at Blackpill which is a quarter of the way into the race. I take photos of runners going down the Mumbles Road.
I then cross over to the Blackpill Lido to take photos of the runners coming back along the promenade, entering the last quarter of the race. I take photos as people cross the bridge at Blackpill Lido. Give me a shout and I will endeavor to get you on camera. Contact me on race day by tweeting what you are wearing so I can spot you at @DimExcuses on twitter, or on the DimExcuses facebook page.
So that is all you need to know about the Swansea Bay 10k 2016, if you are running good luck, if you aren’t get down there an cheer the runners on, DimExcuses.
Find your epic, was the challenge set out by Visit Wales this Summer. They asked people to photograph great things around Wales and post those photos with the hashtag #FindYourEpic.
To increase awareness of this marketing campaign Visit Wales had a giant Epic Sign made and placed at breathtaking venues around Wales. Controversial maybe, but shouldn’t all social media campaigns encourage debate? Like Porthcawl’s #SelfieBench. The one thing you have to agree about this sign though is at its massive size, is certainly is epic. Here I have added Grant and Andrea for scale.
Returning to Rhossili for more surfing with the Halpin-Jones clan, a two foot swell with a slight sideshore wind and blazing sun meant we were going to find our South Wales Epic with or without a giant sign.
The waves were pretty epic, and as always so was the Rhossili view.
We had to get straight down to the beach and catch some waves.
My waterproof camera coming in really useful again.
Some really epic waves were to be had in the end of summer sun.
If you really want to find your epic, the view of Wormshead from the sun soaked, surf line up, has to be a contender.
Exhausting work, this finding your epic.
The endless supply of good waves to surf was taking its tole.
Line after line was rolling into Rhossili Bay. Forming classic Gower blue lines like corduroy.
You always have to get just one more last wave.
But with the tide going out, that long walk back up the cliff was looming over us, and it was time to get back to the car park.
We had a prime spot in the bottom field, with our vans having an unblocked view of Wormshead.
The whole crew wanted a #FindYourEpic selfie in front of the Epic Sign.
Even Sharon and I had to get our picture by the sign, Molly will be gutted she missed this adventure.
The great thing about this time of year, is by the time you have finished surfing and had a bit of a chill out in the field, the sun starts to go down on the icon Wormshead. Being the furthest west point in Gower there is nothing between Wormshead and the sunset.
So we found our epic, now go and find yours, DimExcuses.
Whether you think it is facebook fantastic or instagram insanity, Porthcawl having the world’s first #SelfieBench has divided opinion and caught the attention of the world’s press and social media commentators.
Let’s start with three disclaimers: Firstly these are my own opinions and do not represent the views of Bridgend County Borough Council in any way. Secondly the DimExcuses blog could never be accused of topical investigative journalism, so don’t expect any shocking revelations here. Read the home page where I admit this is stuff and nonsense from wild west Wales. Thirdly that isn’t my best side in the #SelfieBench selfie above.
Now, in defense of the bench. Ten years of working with street furniture makes me look at this bench in a very practical way. Consideration of bench installation is often for the frail or those with mobility issues that see these benches as a much needed rest when walking a community route like this. Often facing the road as waiting places for lifts from relatives. Many benches are orientated like this, and you have probably never noticed them like this old bench in Gowerton. Nowhere near the quality of bench that Porthcawl’s #SelfieBench is.
Don’t blame the bench, the true guilty party here is the breath taking South Wales coast, being so beautiful and at the same rugged that orientating anything around it so that it is not facing this inspiring vista is seen as wrong. And this little bench has been seen as wrong and faced ridicule. Yet in my opinion the true criminal is this view below.
But I am not the only defender of the bench, people in the tourism know in Porthcawl have revealed that this is world leading design, and heralded the World’s first selfie bench, or #SelfieBench in our modern social media world.
The eyes of the press have been on #SelfieBench all day and it has been trending on social media. It even has its own outside broadcast team!
So without further a do, lets get that perfect #SelfieBench #selfie!
Definitely better than that first effort.
So get down Porthcawl seafront and get your #SelfieBench photo with that true criminal the breathtaking Bridgend coast in the background, DimExcuses.
It has taken some time , but this is my final post on my recent trip to Zante, Greece. I have already posted-
It was a great holiday, as you can see from the posts above, but I have left the best until last Keri Caves.
One of the best ways you can see Keri Caves in Zante is by chartering a speedboat. We chartered two, one with a local pilot so we knew where to go, and one piloted by Mark Crimmings from our party (or as the official pilot called him Kapetanios Bretania).
I was on the official pilot’s boat. He knew the caves so well, zooming in and then back throttling so that we stopped inches from the cave walls.
It was really thrilling and the caves are fantastic.
The water is so blue against the white rocks.
We anchored up on a shingle bank and explored those blue bays a bit more. The water is really salty which gives you great buoyancy but makes it difficult to dive deep because of the pressure of that denser water.
Here I am, doing the Nirvana Nevermind cover again…
…and Sharon giving the thumbs up.
We did actually see some fish after we finished messing around.
A load of the Saddled Seabream we saw in the earlier post. They seem little bothered by us splashing by.
We only had a short dip as there was still a lot to see on our boat trip.
You can get up really close to the cave walls with these small speed boats.
Plenty of caves to explore…
…and sunny sea to sail…
…nipping in and out of the Keri Caves.
From the Keri Caves it was then a short speedboat trip to Turtle Island. It even looks like a turtle!
Once on Turtle Island, landing is a bit of a challenge, but we got there in the end.
Forget the Caretta Caretta turtles on Turtle Island, it has a floating ice-cream van!
The obligatory beach selfie.
Some arty driftwood shots.
I guess everything bleaches white in this sun eventually.
Sightseeing done it was time to return our speedboats to their moorings and wave goodbye to our guide.
What a great way to end the DimExcuses Greek Odyssey with such a fantastic boat trip. So there it is my final photos from Zante, Greece, basically it was all Greek to me, DimExcuses.
Continuing with my photos from my recent trip to Zante Greece, and the last post showing what we saw in the sea, here is what we saw once we discover the reef on the tip of Kalamaki Beach. Below I think is a Peacock Wrasse.
Here is a Goby and his friend. You can see these back home rock pooling at Pobbles Bay, Gower.
Another Peacock Wrasse. These fish would literally be all Greek to me, but again I am using Rob Jones’ “Mediterranean Species for Divers, Fisherman & Snorkelers”. That is not a typo it does say fisherman not fishermen, lost in translation I think.
I think this tranquil Wrasse didn’t know what to make of me.
Or Sharon for that matter.
Next we spotted these two. A striped Grund on the left and possibly a Brown Wrasse on the right.
Here they are from another angle.
Joined by another Striped Grund.
Can you spot the Striped Sea Bream in this one. Quite good at camouflage this species.
Here is a better look at them.
There was no shortage of these or the various Wrasses.
This reef was plentiful with small fish.
Another Peacock Wrasse (Thalassoma Pavo according to Rob’s guide).
I think this plain little chap is a Common Sea Bream (Pagrus Pagrus).
But where there is small fish the bigger fish can’t be far behind. Which is wear I made this most significant spot of the trip, a Thornback Ray.
I saw him, he saw me…but wasn’t sure if I saw him so tried to blend into the seaweed.
He was very wary of me, and me wary of him as he was a ray, but he didn’t seem aggressive and we parted company friends after these photos.
Finally swimming back in from the reef you see some more small fish in the shallows sifting through the sand and gravel. Generally brave little Striped Sea Bream that don’t seem wary of all the human swimmers at all.
So that is what we saw on the reef and with the help of this guide it is not all Greek to me for once. Which leaves just one set of photos from Zante to post, the speed boat trip, DimExcuses.
I still have four sets of photos to share from my recent trip to Zante, Greece, as part of my its all Greek to me series. I promised you some underwater wildlife in my last post. So this is a collection of fish I managed to photograph while snorkeling. Once I get through these photos it will be back to beaches and bulldogs as normal.
These fish species definitely are all Greek to me, but luckily I have borrowed Bridgend Countryside Management Officer Rob Jones’ Mediterranean Species Guide which tells me above are Saddled Seabream. I photographed some of us humans too. #UnderwaterSelfie
Lewis had an underwater selfie stick, what is the world coming to?
Anyway, back to the wildlife. Quite a shoal here.
Off they go…
…they must have seen Lewis…
…or me! Quite impression of the Nirvana Nevermind Baby.
But don’t worry there are plenty more fish in the sea, this time baby Barracuda by the surface.
This is a black-tailed Wrasse I think.
Great clear shot of a Saddled Seabream.
Quite happy in the diffused sea sunlight.
Some sort of Wrasse below.
Any identification help will be welcomed.
A small Hermit Crab coming out to say hello.
A black tailed something, again it is all Greek to me.
This guy is a bit more distinctive, a striped Seabream I think.
Oh and a lesser spotted Lewis!
So that is what we saw in the sea. A few days later we found a reef and my next post will be what we saw there, and I promise you some even more interesting species, DimExcuses.