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.

Riding More, Rhossili 20th & 21st August 2016. #RideMore

DimExcuses Surf Rhossili

August has been a great month for surfing. In my mission to just simply #RideMore I managed to get down Rhossili Bay, Gower on both Saturday and Sunday, 20th & 21st of August 2016.

Rhossili, Gower August 2016

The Saturday had a consistent swell, but it was slightly windy. Apart from the wind it was fun in the sun and definitely worth getting in the water. It must have been perfect conditions (10 mph onshore wind) for paragliding as there were loads of them in the air, launching off Rhossili Down. Look closely below, I don’t know how those paragliders don’t hit each other?

Paragliding Rhossili Gower August 2016

I was joined by regular DimExcuses surfer Darren Green, keen to get some use out of his new 7’6″ mini-mal.

DimExcusesSurf Rhossili

A busy summer day meant that the bottom field was open as a car park, which is my preferred base when surfing Rhossili. We had a few obligatory car park photographs before taking the long walk down to the beach below.

Mark Blackmore DimExcuses

We had a good two hours in the water and we were super stoked. So I was really pleased when I got a chance to return the next day with my girlfriend Sharon’s family to collectively surf Rhossili again. It was a great chance to continue teaching the kids to surf.

Teaching the kids to surf

The surf had dropped off slightly, but the wind had also dropped making perfect conditions for learning with perfect small waves coming into Rhossili Bay in straight blue lines.

Blue Lines Rhossili

And as always we were flanked by the impressive Wormshead.

Wormshead Rhossili Gower

Molly my French Bulldog cross joined us, taking charge from the camper van…

Molly at Wormshead

…and checking out the surf from the car park.

Bulldog Surf watch Rhossili Bay

Again we got our favorite basecamp spot in the lower car park because it has possibly the best view of Wormshead without actually walking out to the Coastguard Station.

Big Landmark, Small Bulldog, Rhossili August 2016

There are clear views to the North too, giving Molly a great view of Burry Holms and Pembrey beyond.

Gower Bulldog

Enough of the headland, we were soon down on the beach and in the water. Everyone was getting their share of waves.

Surfing Rhossili

Including me.

DimExcuses Surf

The great thing about surfing at Rhossili is the magnificent view of Rhossili Down rising up above the beach. This is the natural beauty that Gower is so well known for.

Surfing Rhossili #RideMore

It is probably best to look where you are going though and save the view for the walk back up afterwards.

Catching that wave

Molly insisted on getting in the mix, dragging her stick into the waves.

Rhossili Waves

All the time we were catching waves we were in the shadow of Wormshead.

DimEXcuses Surf Gower

Even when just chilling out back.

Chilling Out Back Wormshead

Weary from a long surf it was just a case of doing that punishing walk back up to the car park.

DimExcuses & Dog

A great weekend surfing, I am definitely riding more, and I hope to #RideMore as we go into Autumn, DimExcuses.

#RideMore 4, 5,& 6. Summer 2016.

DimExcuses Surf

It took a while but after making a resolution to just #RideMore (bikes, boards and waves) finally I am out nearly every day. Unfortunately this has meant the blog has suffered and not seen enough updates. So with no more delays here is what I have been doing. A late improvement in summer weather saw me surfing Sker Beach within Kenfig National Nature Reserve. It was the usual hard walk to the remote beach I regularly surf.

How to get to Sker Beach

No photos of the beach this time, but here are some shots of the Nature Reserve.

Kenfig Nature Reserve

Since getting our French Bulldog, Boston Terrier cross, Molly my mountainbike riding has suffered. Her little legs, as fast as they are, can’t keep up with a bike for long. So instead of riding I spend most of my time walking the Gower beaches with Molly. Here she is.

Frenchton Molly

But in August I was able to get out on the bike in Pembrey Country Park. Here is the fine steed.

DimExcusesRide

Molly was not impressed that she was being left out of the adventures.

Dim riding for Molly

Pembrey Country Park is great for a bike ride as it is relatively flat and perfectly positioned on the Millennium Coastal Path, a fantastic bike friendly section of the Wales Coastal Path. There is a viewpoint you can cycle up to and see all the way across to Gower, Rhossili Bay, and Wormshead.

View of Gower from Pembrey Park

Even though Molly didn’t come on the ride she was still as tired as us when we finished riding.

Let sleeping dogs lie.

With a surf and ride under my belt my #RideMore plan was finally starting to come together. Next I headed to Newgale, Pembrokeshire with my girlfriend Sharon’s family. I have surfed Newgale many times, but this time I was teaching the kids and had my waterproof camera with me. Helping the DimExcuses next generation get the bug for surfing.

DimExcuses Surf next gen

Newgale is a great place to learn to surf, with consistent ride-able waves breaking into a safe sandy bay. The best way to teach learners is to push them into waves and let then experience riding the wave all the way in lying down. This helps the learner truly understand what the exhilaration of riding  a wave feels like. To catch a wave you need to be travelling as fast or faster that that wave is moving when it gets to you. Learners often can’t get that speed and a little push can get them on the wave.

Learning to Surf

The kids were keen to learn, look at the concentration on his little face below.

DimExcuses Surf School

It wasn’t long before they were catching waves all on their own.

Surf Newgale

With the surfing stoke passed on to the next generation we sat down to watch a fabulous Pembrokeshire sunset over Newgale Bay.

Newgale Sunset

So two surfs, one ride and a whole load of fun at the end of summer. I also intend to #RideMore as we get into Autumn and my favorite month Surftember, DimExcuses.

#StormWatch. Riding the Storm, Oxwich, Gower 20th August 2016.

Surfing Oxwich Bay

This has been on our #StormWatch radar for over a week. A massive unseasonable storm heading for the UK. Winds over 40 mph, and a ground swell of 12 feet plus. Adding to that there was a high spring tide that threatened storm surge conditions. All of which meant that nearly every Gower break was death on a stick!

Is there surf in Oxwich Bay?

Warnings were in place, surfers were urging people to look out for each other on social media, and the seafront businesses were putting their sea defenses in place. Lessons have be learned from since 2014 when Caswell was decimated by a storm surge (high tide coinciding with a large storm). It is times like these when the only surfing choice is Oxwch Bay, Gower.

Oxwich Surf

You may ask does Oxwich Bay get surf? It is the most fickle beach. It is a sheltered bay that faces south east. That orientation is for rare for a Gower surf beach as most face west or south west. That south east orientation makes Wales’ prevailing south west wind an offshore wind, giving Oxwich tall, steep and hollow waves when it has surf.

Surfing Oxwich August 2016

The problem is that it virtually never ever gets waves. It is so sheltered there is sometimes not even a ripple, which makes it an ideal Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) destination.  There needs to be a 15 foot swell to get a 1 foot wave at Oxwich. This storm was hovering around 11 – 13 foot. The fantastic surf conditions website GowerLive was saying there was just a 0.5 foot wave at Oxwich. That was good enough for me to have a punt.

DimExcuses Surf Oxwich

The fierce offshore wind was pushing the wave faces up and it was more like a consistent 1 foot wave, fast, step and exciting to ride as it closed out hard and heavy. A very rewarding surf.  It was well worth going in. I snagged this hollow face below just as it closed out. My girlfriend Sharon taking this photo just at the right time.

Hollow wave at Oxwich

Now I am looking beyond this storm. The best surf is always after the storm. All the bays should be back to safe conditions with a good swell by Tuesday (23/08/16), so start planning your next session, DimExcuses.

How green is my valley & coast? Three Cliffs, Gower July 2016.

Basically very green. A wet July has given us unlimited water and long days for plants to grow, as anyone with a “constantly needing cutting” lawn will tell you. I had to do a double take going through these photos before posting them. Everything was that green! Three Cliffs Bay was glowing green, not the normal sun faded pastel colours of a normal July. The vegetation is thriving in these wet, warm long days of July 2016.

Molly the Frenchton and I took our famous Three Cliffs walking loop, starting at Pennard and heading out around the golf course to Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle is perched high above Three Cliffs Valley and this gives you a fantastic view of the famous bay.

Pennard Castle

There are loads of cows grazing the paths around Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay at the moment so make sure you get your dog on a lead when you pass this livestock. I had Molly back on her lead whenever I saw the cows, which was fortunate, seeing what we encountered later on.

Three Cliffs Cows

There are two choices when doing the circular walk from Three Cliffs to Pobbles Bay. Firstly you can follow the boardwalk around the dunes and cliffs. You can walk that boardwalk anytime. The other option is to drop down into the valley. This second option is tide dependent and involves a steep decent. It is a steep sandy slope made famous in the Darth Manion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge. Here is a picture of the path as it winds through the woods.

Pennard Castle path to Three Cliffs Valley

Once in Three Cliffs Valley it is a short walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself. Molly had decided that she was a rock climber.

Rock Climbing Dog at Three Cliffs

Standing majestic taking in the view of the bay.

DimExcuses Three Cliffs

We barely made it through the cave in Three Cliffs that leads to Pobbles Bay. We just got through as the sea was cutting the two bays off from each other (I said it was tide dependent). Molly had a dip in the incoming tide, which had a nice little wave coming in.

Molly Three Cliffs

Pobbles Bay has some fantastic limestone rock outcrops to discover.

Incoming tide at Pobbles Bay Gower

Molly was having a good look at this Pobbles Bay limestone.

Molly looking at Pobbles limestone

Here is the whole of Pobbles Bay, cliffs topped with rich green grass, as the tide comes into this popular Gower beach.

Pobbles Bay July 2016

We added an extra bit onto our normal loop and climbed out of Pobbles onto Pennard Cliffs, walking around to Southgate. This gave a different perspective looking from Pobbles towards Three Cliffs Bay. You can see Pennard Cliffs without going to Three Cliffs by walking a loop from the National Trust car park in Southgate.

Gower July 2016

One thing did surprise me seeing the two Gower bays from the top of Pennard Cliffs, the tide comes much further into Three Cliffs Bay than it does in Pobbles Bay. I had never noticed that before.

Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay Gower July 2016

As we followed the cliff path I saw another cow and put Molly back on her lead. Good thing I did, because I then noticed a load of afterbirth on the path as we approached the cow. She had just given birth to this calf!

Cow and new born calf, Gower July 2016

What a fantastic thing to see! But I kept Molly on a tight lead, as even a little dog can be a threat to such a young calf, and Mum would not stand for that. A cow can be a big and dangerous animal if a dog is threatening its young. We gave them the respect and distance needed that so that all parties were happy with the encounter. In summary, Gower is super green at the moment, cows are grazing the cliffs and dunes, and you should always keep your dog on lead around livestock, DimExcuses.

 

Stop, Eject, Reset. Pwll Du Bay, Gower 2nd July 2016.

Stop, eject, reset. Pwll Du

There is only so much negativity you can take, until you just have to press stop, eject the program and just reset yourself by getting out in the sun and down the beach.

Pwll Du

So with the sun shining on the first weekend of July 2016, Molly, the french bulldog and I headed out down Pwll Du Bay, Gower to get some photos to cheer everyone up.

Molly Brandy Cove

We went the cliff route out to Brandy Cove, and then along the Wales Coast path back to Pwll Du. This gave us a great view of Caswell Bay.

Brandy Cove to Caswell Bay

Molly was really enjoying the Cliff Path, stopping for a drink in the the cattle’s water bath.

Molly stops for a drink

We spent some time of the beach among the pebbles and the waves.

Pwll Du Bay, Gower July 2016

With all that sun and sea, I did feel totally reset. The full gallery is below. Stop, eject and reset by having a look through, DimExcuses.

#RideMore 2 & 3, Deeper into Kenfig National Nature Reserve.

Surf Kenfig

The plan back in January was simple, #RideMore this year. It isn’t going well. I have managed three surfs this year, all of which have been at Kenfig Sands. My first surf was #RideMore 1 at Sker Beach, you can read about that here.

To Sker beach

#RideMore 2 was also at Sker Beach which is at the southern end of Kenfig sands. Kenfig sands is a massive beach which runs along the coast of Kenfig National Nature Reserve. It is almost two miles long. Walking to Sker is a good mile too. Here is the beach in all its glory.

Sker Beach

It is a rocky beach but has consistent surf. It has similar surf to Rest Bay but doesn’t have the problem of crowds that Rest has.  Just like Rest Bay it is tide dependent and often gets too high on the rocks to surf at high tide.

Sker, Kenfig Sands

As you move up the beach from Sker, Kenfig Sands gets much less rocky. So for #RideMore 3 I headed further along the coast.

Kenfig Sands

Unfortunately that is a massive hike to undertake. You do get to take in the natural beauty of Kenfig National Nature Reserve as you walk. Moly is keen for me to say that it is orchid season and you can see a range of orchids at Kenfig. If you are lucky you may see a rare Fen Orchid. Here is a Southern Marsh Orchid Molly spotted further down the coast in Newton, Porthcawl.

Molly spots a Southern Marsh Orchid

Orchids aside, there is a haul road that runs along the coast from Sker Beach that can be used to access any point on Kenfig Sands, it all depends how far you want to walk. Kenfig is a massive sand dune ecosystem so dunes often block your view of the beach.

IMG_20160506_145323-01_wm

Luckily National Resources Wales has been doing some serious dune rejuvenation works in the area, digging through some of the larger dunes. This gives great points to access the beach. I went in here.

Kenfig Dunes

I caught it when the tide was too high, but it was surfable. It was steep like a French shore break. I would like to try and surf there several hours either side of high tide. The steepness of the beach at high tide meant that in about twenty metres you went from neck deep to ankle deep. Not good for your board, or body, seeing as I sprained my wrist in the shallows. An injury that has really set back my plan to #RideMore.

Kenfig DimExcuses

I am into three weeks of RICE (rest, ice, compression & elevation) and hope to be back in the water next weekend. In the meantime there is always orchid spotting.

Tongue Out Molly

The plan is to hike even further down the beach next time, DimExcuses.

Pobbles Evening High Tide. 17th June 2016.

Pobbles Evening High Tide

I love these long light evenings as we approach the summer solstice. It gives me and Molly, the french bulldog plenty of time to get an evening walk down to Pobbles Bay, Gower.

Pobbles Bay High Tide

There is nothing as good as summer evening at the beach on high tide. And Pobbles Bay has to be one of the best beaches visit on a summer evening. Molly and I often get the beach to ourselves, but I am being to think that the Griffiths family live there as they have been there the last couple of times I have visited Pobbles.

Surf Pobbles

They were even in surfing last night! It is rare to get a surfable wave at Pobbles, but last night there was a cracking fun swell on the push of high tide, squeezing in between the rocks.

Surfing Pobbles

Now, if the Griffths are there, then that means that the other Molly will be there too. This Molly is a rescue staffie and that means double Molly trouble as the pair of dogs made the most of the surf.

A tale of two Mollies, Pobbles

The DimExcuses Molly was quick to point out though she was happy to share the sand, technically it is her beach.

Molly Pobbles

Pobbles Bay is adjacent to Three Cliffs Bay, so it is easy to get up on the spine of Three Cliffs itself to get some fantastic photos of the iconic cliffs at high tide.

On top of Three Cliffs

It is a great place to just sit down, chill out and appreciate the rugged beauty of the Gower coast.

Sitting on Three Cliffs

The view is equally spectacular looking out at the waves coming into Pobbles Bay.

Pobbles Waves

It looked like a lot of fun riding those summer evening waves.

Swell at Pobbles Bay

Molly is always one to appreciate a bit of surf.

Surf Bulldog at Pobbles Gower

Having found our evening sun and surf fix at high tide, it was time for Molly and I to head home, so I will leave you with one last picture of the Jewel of Gower, Three Cliffs Bay.

Summer evening Three Cliffs Bay

Spectacular, DimExcuses.

Gower business as usual. Three Cliffs Bay, April 2016.

Three Cliffs Walk

I should have posted these pictures ages ago. It has been a busy spring, between work, selfie benches and unseasonable weather followed by a fantastic start to June, I haven’t been out and about like normal.  But don’t think Molly the french bulldog and I didn’t get out in April and May.

Three Cliffs Splash

We still managed to do our famous Three Cliffs Bay Circular Walk, on a few occasions. These pictures are from the end of April.

Walking Three Cliffs

The Spring weather wasn’t doing us any favors at all but Three Cliffs still looked great. Back to business as usual, we started off at Pennard and headed out around the golf course to Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle April 2016

The tide was out so we could take the steep sand dune down to Three Cliffs Valley. It is a steep sandy decent made famous in the Darth Mannion extreme running challenge.

Pennard Castle down to Three Cliffs Valley

Taking the boardwalk down the valley, alongside the river to Three Cliffs Bay itself.

Ilston Pil

The biggest news from Three Cliffs is that it now has a lifeguard station after a drowning last year. This is a very dangerous beach to swim due to the strong river that continues to run even after the tide has come in. The station is very subtle and doesn’t impact on the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty. Can you spot the Lifeguard hut in this photo?

Lifeguard Station Three Cliffs April 2016

Once you have found the lifeguard hut, have a look for these passing planes I photographed from the valley too.

Swansea Air Show

New lifeguards and passing airshow planes aside, it was definitely back to business as usual in our Gower walking.

Three Cliffs Bay April 2016

As always Molly the French bulldog was first up the rocks…

Three Cliffs April 2016

…and first back on the sand.

Molly Three Cliffs

Moving into Pobbles Bay we could see clearly all the way to Oxwich Bay.

Pobbles Bay view to Three Cliffs

We had the usual fetch in the rock pools.

Rockpools Pobbles April 2016

Before inspecting the bluebells on the way home.

Bluebells Pobbles April 2016

So that was Gower April 2016, business as usual. I promise to keep on top of posting in June, especially as we enter Summer sirf season, DimExcuses.