The best of South Gower in one day.

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.

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Summer Finally Turns Up. Pwll Du Bay. August Bank Holiday 2017.

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.

None like it hot. Swansea Bay 10k 2016.

Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Winner Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Frazier Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Chris Jones was next smashing almost 10 minutes off his time from last year.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Closely followed by another Swansea Bay 10k veteran Luke Millward.

Luke Millward Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Jan Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

High Five! Caz. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

My sister Michelle wasn’t far behind, cheered on by a big family turn out.

Michelle Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Swansea Bay 10k Winner. Battle for first place.

The first women runner was an equally fierce battle.

Women's Race Winner Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The rest of the elite runners were next.

Superman 2016

The usual suspects weren’t far behind them. Andrew Frazier not dropping any pace in the heat.

Andrew Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Chris Jones setting a personal best for this race.

Chris Jones Swansea Bay 10k 2016

There he goes, jostling for places on the hill climb.

Hill race

Some were taking it a little less seriously.

Ian in a Tutu. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

None like it hot. Swansea Bay 10k 2016

I just missed Sam Donaldson on his return run. Here is his back as he climbs the hill.

Sam Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Frances Samuel was the next familar face I spotted in the crowds.

Frances Swansea Bay 10k 2016

The hill being her least favorite part of the course.

Frances Samuel Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Clare was the next to tackle the hill.

Claire Swansea Bay 10k 2016

I even spotted one of my old students, giving a big thumbs up.

Swansea Bay 10k Sept 2016

Luke looked pleased to have got to almost 8km into the race.

Luke Swansea Bay 10k 2016

My nieces were thrilled to see their mum Caz safely past the Blackpill bridge…

Caz crosses the bridge

…and onto the hill. I thought Grace would start running with her.

Caz Bidder Swansea Bay 10k 2016

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.

Paul Popham Runners Swansea Bay 10k 2016

Just demolishing the hill towards the final 2km.

Paul Popham Running Club

Was that sports development legend Tom Jones I spotted amidst this year’s runners? Surely not?

Tom Swansea Bay 10k 2016

It was all over too fast.

Paul Popham Team

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.

Swansea Bay 10k 2016, all you need to know.

Swansea Bay 10K Jane & Stu

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.

Sam Donaldson Swansea Bay 10k

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.

Steven Bidder Swansea Bay 10k

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.

Luke Swansea Bay 10k

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

Muggy

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:

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2013, click here.

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2014, click here.

Swansea Bay 10k photographs & review 2015, click here.

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.

Swansea Bay 10K Pack

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.

Dave Carrington

Finally are there any official website pages for the Swansea Bay 10k? Yes, there is an official website you can find here, and an official race day guide you can find here.

Matt Bailey

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.

Finding Our Epic. End of Summer 2016.

Find Your Epic

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.

#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.

DimExcuses #FindYourEpic

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.

find your epic surf at Rhossili Gower

The waves were pretty epic, and as always so was the Rhossili view.

Rhossili View

We had to get straight down to the beach and catch some waves.

findyourepic surf

My waterproof camera coming in really useful again.

Epic DimExcuses

Some really epic waves were to be had in the end of summer sun.

Surf DimExcuses

If you really want to find your epic, the view of Wormshead from the sun soaked, surf line up, has to be a contender.

Find Your Epic Wormshead

Exhausting work, this finding your epic.

DimExcuses Shattered

The endless supply of good waves to surf was taking its tole.

Epic

Line after line was rolling into Rhossili Bay. Forming classic Gower blue lines like corduroy.

Gower Blue Lines

You always have to get just one more last wave.

Surf Gower

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.

Low tide Rhossili

We had a prime spot in the bottom field, with our vans having an unblocked view of Wormshead.

DimExcuses VW

The whole crew wanted a #FindYourEpic selfie in front of the Epic Sign.

Epic DimExcuses Crew

Even Sharon and I had to get our picture by the sign, Molly will be gutted she missed this adventure.

Mark & Sharon, DimExcuses

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.

sunset at Wormshead

Truly epic.

Epic Wormshead

So we found our epic, now go and find yours, DimExcuses.

#SelfieBench, the true guilty party exposed!

#SelfieBench

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.

Selfie Bench

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.

Resting those feet.

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.

Nothing to see here, not #SelfieBench

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.

Selfie Bench view, Porthcawl

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.

Doing #SelfieBench wrong.

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!

#SelfieBench Media

So without further a do, lets get that perfect #SelfieBench #selfie!

#SelfieBench #Selfie

Definitely better than that first effort.

Facing the wrong way.

So get down Porthcawl seafront and get your #SelfieBench photo with that true criminal the breathtaking Bridgend coast in the background, DimExcuses.

 

The Keri Caves by Speed Boat. It is all Greek to me 7. Zante 2015.

Keri Caves Zante

It has taken some time , but this is my final post on my recent trip to Zante, Greece. I have already posted-

It is all Greek to me 1 – Zante Dawn

It is all Greek to me 2 – Jump in the Pool

It is all Greek to me 3 – Banana Beach

It is all Greek to me 4 – Pedalos and Planes

It is all Greek to me 5 – Things we saw in the Sea

It is all Greek to me 6 -Things we saw on the Reef

It was a great holiday, as you can see from the posts above, but I have left the best until last Keri Caves.

Kapetanios Bretania

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).

The last journey of Katetanios 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.

Cave Exploring

It was really thrilling and the caves are fantastic.

Keri Caves

The water is so blue against the white rocks.

Cave Zante

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.

DimExcuses Snorkel

Here I am, doing the Nirvana Nevermind cover again…

DimExcuses Nevermind

…and Sharon giving the thumbs up.

Sharon Keri Caves

We did actually see some fish after we finished messing around.

Keri Caves Fish

A load of the Saddled Seabream we saw in the earlier post. They seem little bothered by us splashing by.

Saddled Seabream

We only had a short dip as there was still a lot to see on our boat trip.

Keri Caves Boat Trip

You can get up really close to the cave walls with these small speed boats.

DimExcuse Zante

Plenty of caves to explore…

Keri Caves

…and sunny sea to sail…

Danielle Keri Caves

…nipping in and out of the Keri Caves.

Keri Caves Zante

From the Keri Caves it was then a short speedboat trip to Turtle Island. It even looks like a turtle!

Turtle Island

Once on Turtle Island, landing is a bit of a challenge, but we got there in the end.

Turtle Island Ahoy!

Forget the Caretta Caretta turtles on Turtle Island, it has a floating ice-cream van!

Turtle Island Ice Cream Boat

The obligatory beach selfie.

DimExcuses Turtle Beach Selfie

Some arty driftwood shots.

Driftwood Turtle Beach

I guess everything bleaches white in this sun eventually.

Bleached white driftwood.

Sightseeing done it was time to return our speedboats to their moorings and wave goodbye to our guide.

Dolphin Speed Boats

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.

Things we saw on the reef. It is all Greek to me 6. Zante 2015.

Thornback Ray

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.

Peacock Wrasse

Here is a Goby and his friend. You can see these back home rock pooling at Pobbles Bay, Gower.

Goby

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.

Peacock Wrasse Zante

I think this tranquil Wrasse didn’t know what to make of me.

DimExcuses Snorkel

Or Sharon for that matter.

Sharon

Next we spotted these two. A striped Grund on the left and possibly a Brown Wrasse on the right.

Fish Zante

Here they are from another angle.

Striped Grund

Joined by another Striped Grund.

Zante Fish

Can you spot the Striped Sea Bream in this one. Quite good at camouflage this species.

Under the Sea, Zante

Here is a better look at them.

Striped Sea Bream

There was no shortage of these or the various Wrasses.

Sea Bream

This reef was plentiful with small fish.

More Sea Bream

Another Peacock Wrasse (Thalassoma Pavo according to Rob’s guide).

Peacock Wrasse

I think this plain little chap is a Common Sea Bream (Pagrus Pagrus).

Fish

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.

Thornback Ray Zante

I saw him, he saw me…but wasn’t sure if I saw him so tried to blend into the seaweed.

Thornback ray hiding in 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.

DimExcuses Thornback Ray

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.

Shallow Striped Sea Bream

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.

Things we saw in the sea. It is all Greek to me 5. Zante 2015

Underwater Cave

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.

Zante Snorkeling

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

Underwater DimExcuses

Lewis had an underwater selfie stick, what is the world coming to?

Lewis Selfie Stick

Anyway, back to the wildlife. Quite a shoal here.

Zante Fish

Off they go…

…they must have seen Lewis…

Lewis

…or me! Quite impression of the Nirvana Nevermind Baby.

DimExcuses submerged

But don’t worry there are plenty more fish in the sea, this time baby Barracuda by the surface.

Baby Barracuda

This is a black-tailed Wrasse I think.

Black-tailed Wrasse

Great clear shot of a Saddled Seabream.

Saddled Seabream

Quite happy in the diffused sea sunlight.

Saddled Seabream

Some sort of Wrasse below.

Wrasse

Any identification help will be welcomed.

Wrasse swimming

A small Hermit Crab coming out to say hello.

Hermit Crab

A black tailed something, again it is all Greek to me.

Sun Speckled

This guy is a bit more distinctive, a striped Seabream I think.

Underwater Zante

Oh and a lesser spotted Lewis!

Look who popped up!

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.

 

Pedalos and planes. It is all Greek to me 4. Zante 2015

Pedalos Zante

I am still getting through my photos from Zante, Greece.  You can read these earlier posts by clicking the links below:

It is all Greek to me 1, Zante Dawn.

It is all Greek to me 2, Jump in the pool.

It is all Greek to me 3, Banana Beach.

DimExcuses Zante

I still have a load of photos to go. These are taken on Kalamaki Beach when we hired some pedalos.

Kalamaki Beach

As mentioned in the Zante Dawn post, this beach is just before where the planes land, so you often see them flying overhead.

Kalamaki Plane

It is quite surreal as you pedal about and dive in the water to see the planes soaring over you so close.

Plane & Pedalo

I wonder if they could look down and see us snorkeling by our pedallo?

Plane Zante

Snorkeling here is great fun, but you won’t see much in this bay at this time of year, unless you come down really early and catch the turtles hatching.

Underwater Zante

I am sure in this photo Sharon is trying to run me over with the pedalo. It makes for one of my most unusual selfies! That look on my face is all about being twice out of my depth and the camera I am holding doesn’t float!

In water selfie

Sharon insisted on a pedalo with a sun shade, probably wise in this sun.

Parasol Pedalo

We let the kids with us roast in the sun.

Pedalo Zante 2015

Snorkeling done and all pedaled out, it was time to try out the beach bar on Kalamaki Beach…

Kalamaki Beach Bar

…and catch one last plane shot.

Plane Kalamaki

This Mediterranean life was starting to suit me.

DimExcuses Beach Life

Next we went and snorkeled in some more wildlife populated parts of the coast, but that is a whole different post that I will upload soon, DimExcuses.