Here is the third gallery from Darth Mannion X. The Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2019.
Click on a thumbnail to open the images.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
With a disappointing start to spring and generally cold weather, it was nice to have a cracking dry day for Mothering Sunday.
I hope you made the most of your Mother’s Day. We got out down Three Cliffs Bay on me and Molly’s famous circular walk. You can see our route on strava here. At Pennard Castle we had to take the classic photo of the valley above, and with the tide out we could drop down into the valley. The steep slope is really challenging at the moment and I don’t envy the Darth Mannion Race Runners running down it next week!
Once in the valley it is easy to walk along the board walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself.
Though recent storms have eroded the sand and left many stones exposed so it is not that easy to walk along the river once in the bay.
Getting through Three Cliffs Cave was particularly challenging.
You can see the sand erosion in the picture above. Molly was having a good nose around and was joined by her friends Rocky and Sadie. It was quite brisk at five degrees with a slight wind, but still a lovely day to get out, I hope you did too, DimExcuses.
No sooner than we have taken a battering from Storm Gertrude and Storm Henry is on the way. The Met. Office is naming all the UK storms this winter and the list is already decided. The list is alphabetical and alternates boy girl, like the seating plan in my old GCSE Chemistry class back in the day at Bishopston Comprehensive.
The list of 2015 / 2016 UK winter storm names are:
So this weekend Storm Gertrude had finally past us and we heard Storm Henry was on the way. Taking advantage of the calm between the storms Molly my Frenchton and I decided to get down Langland Bay and walk the Wales Coastal Path to Caswell Bay, to maintain our Gower StormWatch and check out the post storm surf.
Firstly we entered Rothersalde Bay (slightly east of Langland) as the tide was falling as can be seen above. We could just about make it around to Langland Bay as the tide fell but it required some rock scrambling.
In Langland itself the surf was pumping in and the surfers were making their way in. You can see why it is Gower’s premier surfing beach.
Through the surf was large the conditions were good and waves quite clean so the SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) guys were going in too.
The walk around to Caswell Bay was equally impressive in the post storm conditions.
It was a fantastic day for a walk, Molly and I racked up 7.5 km walking in the end. With this endless rain and storm after storm you have to make the most of the calm between the storms and get out there, DimExcuses.
January maybe a bit of a cold wash out, but that doesn’t stop me and Molly the French Bulldog from getting down the Gower beaches. We are maintaining our StormWatch and observing how climate change is effecting the Welsh Coast.
Last time we were checking out the big surf at Langland Bay, today we were further down the Gower coast at Pobbles Bay. Pobbles is the small bay before the famous Three Cliffs Bay, and you can see Three Cliffs in the picture above. From this angle it doesn’t look too unusual at Pobbles Bay, but if you walk down there today you have a striking view in front of you as you reach the entrance to the beach. See if you can spot Molly among the pebbles.
The pebble storm beach at the top of the beach is at least twice the size it should be with many pebbles exposed by storm erosion. These are pebbles that are never seen in the summer buried by several feet of sand. This large section of exposed rocks is making it difficult to get on to Pobbles beach itself. I saw two horse riders really struggling to get their horses across this hazardous stretch of pebbles.
In the coves and caves the sand lost is very clear and the pebble beds that only winter sees are clearly on display.
Note the metre of bare rock with no barnacles at the bottom these cave sides showing where the sand level would normally be. Molly was having a proper investigation, and the pebble caves make for a challenging of game fetch the ball. Especially as there are now some sizable rock pools in those caves.
But Molly always gets her ball.
Always keep your eye on the ball…
…unless you can touch your nose with your tongue.
We explored all the caves in Pobbles Bay, seeing a lot of bare rock you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year.
This is the furthest east in Pobbles Bay.
And here is looking back at Three Cliffs.
And finally another look at those impressive caves exposed by winter storm erosion.
It is really impressive seeing how much sand is moved around by storms and the seasons, and with it only being January there is still plenty of winter left for Molly and I to continue with our StormWatch observations, 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.