#StormWatch. Low Sun & low tide, Caswell to Langland.

Gower Sunset

What a weekend of weather, massive tides, storms and snow. Though the Gower salty air made sure we had no snow, we still had blue clouds passing us over the rocks exposed by the huge low tide.

#StormWatch Caswell Bay

Molly the French Bulldog and I were on our usual Gower Coast #StormWatch, but the storm had long since past Gower and we were left to walk in the following calm and drink up the low sun as we walked from Caswell to Langland Bay and back.

Caswell Bay January 2016

Sometimes the light on these winter coast walks gives the best Gower views.

Low tide Langland Bay

Molly was more interested in playing on the beach.

Molly DimExcuses

But I made her do the whole walk from Caswell to Langland Bay and back.

Caswell to Langland Walk

It is a fantastic walk, about 6.2km there and back. We were even treated to a rainbow over Swansea Bay that landed right on Tata Steel in Port Talbot. Hopefully a good omen for them. There is steel at the end of the rainbow.

Rainbow over Tata Steel Port Talbot

Today was a day when the sunsets eclipse the rainbows.

Sunset Caswell to Langland walk

The low sun soon left us, but we got a good walk in from Caswell to Langland, and hopefully we will get a few more this Winter, DimExcuses.

In the Shadow of the Sunset. DimExcuses Mid Winter Walk 2016.

Shadow of the sunset. Pwll Du

Last year we started a new tradition, the DimExcuses Winter Walk. You can see all the photos from 2015’s winter walk here. It is the sister walk to the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk, which you can read about here.

Winter Sunset Sun, Gower 2016

Starting where the summer walk ends, in the Joiners Arms in Bishopston, we headed down to Pwll Du Bay, Gower. We got onto the Wales Coastal Path at Pwll Du just after half past two, which gave us two hours of low winter sun to walk the Wales Coast Path all the way to Mumbles.

Low Winter Sun, Gower 2016

It was a fantastic afternoon, cool crisp and sunny. Eight of us and two dogs made the walk with the low sun at our backs.

Brandy Cove Winter 2016

We were soon in Brandy Cove, and on our way to Caswell Bay.

Caswell Bay Winter 2016

With a low tide and low sun, lots of people were walking off their Christmas mince pies on Caswell beach. In the shadow of the sunset behind us it was important now to get around to Langland Bay while we still had the light.

Shadow of the Sunset Caswell Bay

With a four thirty sunset, we didn’t have much time. The sun was rapidly setting behind us as we made our way passed Langland Bay, Rotherslade Bay and on to Limeslade Bay.

Winter Sunset Gower 2016

The light was incredible as the sun set behind us as we finally reached Mumbles.

Last light Gower 2016

The walk was about 12km, and as we regrouped for a pint by the fire in the Park Inn, Mumbles, we had one very big, very tired dog on our hands.  Oakley has a few DimExcuses Gower walks under his belt now.

Oakley

And we also had one little dog who really didn’t know what to make of the one big dog!

When Molly met Oakley

It was a great walk, that proved that the Gower Coast is for life not just Christmas Summer. We will definitely going again next year, DimExcuses.

Stormwatch. After the wind drops the surf rises up. Langland / Caswell 2nd January 2016.

StormWatch Langland

Rain, rain and more rain as storm after storm hits the UK and temperatures refuse to drop to anyway near average temperatures for this time of year. Coupled with high winds the weather has not been good for getting out and about in South Wales.  As always I have been on the StormWatch, especially on the DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk earlier in the week when I saw Caswell Bay had yet again got a bit of a hammering. Nothing like when Caswell  was devastated in January 2014,  thankfully the storm protection measures put in since then seem to be holding up.

DimExcuses Surf Langland

But yesterday (the second day in January 2016) was a respite from the recent storm generated wind and rain. Spotting a good few hours of decent weather Sharon, Molly and I headed down to Rotherslade Bay, to walk around to Langland and Caswell Bay. You can follow our route on Strava here.  Before we had even left the car, we could see that the massive storm swell was still here, but now with no wind to spoil those big peaks and they were coming into Langland in beautiful massive straight lines.

StormWatch Caswell

Caswell Bay was no different with plenty of surfers in the water due to the above average temperatures. There was a 10 degree air temperature which matched the 10 degree water temperature. The sun even came out for a bit and with no wind it felt more like 13 or 14 degrees.  The beach at Caswell looked more like late autumn or early spring with families playing games and having BBQs. There were people in short sleeves, some in shorts, and even some bare foot walkers dipping their toes in.

Mild Winter on Gower 2016

It really is quite worrying. I recall Halloween 2008 when it was barely over 2 degrees for that last week in October and the Halloween night itself. Or there was the freezing winter of 2010 when it did not go over zero degrees on Christmas Day, and it wasn’t until March that we got temperatures even approaching 9 degrees. This winter we have only seen one frost and temperatures barely left double figures throughout December.

Storm Surf Langland Gower

By mid afternoon the word was out, GowerLive was posting some impressive video and surfers were coming down in droves. Langland was looking really busy with a full line up scrabbling for their go at the straight lines. A great afternoon and the 7km walk was just what was needed for Molly the French Bulldog who has been going stir crazy in this poor weather. With more storms forecast we will be continuing to keep up our StormWatch, watch this space, DimExcuses.

A New Tradition, The DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk, December 2015.

Pwll Du, DimExcuses Christmas Walk

Happy new year! This is my forth year of blogging and sharing my enthusiasm for getting out and about in Wales and further a field.

Rotherslade Bay

Our DimExcuses Big Gower Walk in September is now a strong tradition, you can read about this year’s walk here. But I felt that we needed something similar for the winter holidays. Yet that brings challenges in terms of shorter days, wetter and colder weather. Challenges that Molly and Darren were happy to take on as we headed to our first Gower beach, Pwll Du.

Spot the Bulldog, Pwll Du

We chose the Monday Bank Holiday (28/12/15), and started where we finish the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk at the Joiners Arms in Bishopston, Gower. From there it is a short walk to Pwll Du Bay. Setting off at 2 pm we had about two and a half hours of light before the winter sun set.

The Usual DimExcuses Suspects, Pwll Du to Brandy Cove

The weather has been so wet lately that we had all got new waterproofs and planned for the worst. On the bright side this winter has been very mild. Very, very mild and very wet, from a climate change point of view it is extremely concerning. So far this winter we have had only one frost. From a DimExcuses walkers point of view at least it wasn’t going to be cold.

Darren & Paul, DimExcuses Christmas Walk

Miraculously the rain held off for the whole walk, but it was windy! A strong wind blowing the Christmas cobwebs away. Wind in our faces we went from Pwll Du, around to Brandy Cove.

Brandy Cove

From Brandy Cove we continued on the Wales Coast Path to Caswell Bay. At Caswell Bay it was clear that the recent winter storms had taken their toll with bricks from the sea front strewn across the beach entrance.

StormWatch Caswell

Caswell allowed us a quick comfort break, before we pressed on against the setting sun towards Langland and Rotherslade Bay.

Langland Bay DimExcuses

From Langland and Rotherslade there was just one last home stretch of the Wales Coastal Path to walk around to Limeslade and Bracelet Bay.

Rotherslade Bay DimExcuses

The light was now fading and we were relying on street lights as we finished the walk in the village of Mumbles. It was then just a case of finding a (bull) dog friendly pub and having a real ale and tall stories with friends old and new. The Park was happy to accommodate us and even lit the fireplace to warm up us weary walkers.

Laughs by the Pub Fire

A great success and now a new tradition, we will be undertaking the DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk again next year. You should come, DimExcuses.

Mentro 21. No hero’s welcome, just a cold car park and small dog. Caswell, Gower November 2015.

DimExcuses Caswell

So I did it, completed my #Mentro21 challenge to surf 21 times this year. I was cutting it close though. We have been enjoying an unseasonably mild autumn, but this week saw a sudden change to the cold air that we should have been having. Overnight temperatures reaching freezing and not seeing anywhere near double figures in the day.

Low sun surf

The sea is still a forgiving twelve degrees Celsius. So mindful of that I still needed that twenty first surf and the water, weather is only going to get colder and the days shorter, I headed to Caswell Bay, Gower to finish the challenge.

Sharon and Molly

My girlfriend Sharon came along and took most of these photos, you can follow her on twitter @WarmSand1. Of course Molly our french bulldog was with us too, and she followed me straight into the sea with her friend here. The low autumn sun was spectacular but a real pain for photos and looking out to sea for waves.

Molly DimExcuses Caswell

The water really wasn’t that cold, it is the air that is now a problem. The bright sun helped but only brought the air to a whole seven degrees.

Caswell Gower

Molly was still quite happy in the water, having a bit of a paddle.

Molly Caswell

But she soon got pretty cold.

Molly Apres Surf

Heading back to the van for a rub down and a fleece blanket wrap.

Molly French Bulldog

I still had a few waves to catch.

DimExcuses Caswell

The last in the water.

Last One Out

So there it is the completion of my #Mentro21 project. No fanfare, no hero’s welcome, just me, Sharon, a small dog, a big van and a cold car park. At that is generally how it is surfing in Wales.  But it will soon be spring and we will be doing it all over again. I have come a long way from Mentro 1, way back in April. But then again the sea wasn’t that cold today, could I get in again this year? Cold water surfing, DimExcuses.

Mentro 13, like surfing in laverbread. Caswell, Gower July 2015.

Caswell Bay

I needed a good day surfing, last Saturday at Rhossili I had a poor session and needed to get back on the horse. With similar if not bigger surf and wind this weekend, I roped in Darren Green and we headed for Caswell Bay, Gower.

Darren Green

Caswell is the most accessible Beach on Gower. It has an car park just off the Beach, bus routes from Swansea City Centre and concrete surfaces almost to the top of the Beach. Toilets, cafe and shops means it caters for everyone, especially learner surfers with a consistent medium wave pushing into a safe sandy beach.

DimExcuses Caswell

It doesn’t offer epic surf that often but is pretty much assured of a good fun session all year round. We caught it two hours before low tide and loads of small jellyfish were everywhere. Those little scotch pancake looking ones with the four little pink squares inside (sorry I am no marine biologist). If you like scoping up four of those little guys on every paddle stroke, today’s surf would have been right up your street.

Like surfing laverbread

Also as the tide pushed everything into the smaller and smaller Bay as it was funneled by the rising tide, seaweed was everywhere, like surfing in laverbread (the Welsh delicacy, look it up or order a Welsh breakfast to try it).

Caswell Gower

But every Beach has its day and today was Caswell’s day. A consistent two foot swell pumped in, with a much needed gap between sets. This has to be in the top five times I have surfed Caswell, and I will put up with jellyfish and laverbread for that, DimExcuses.

Sun, Sand, Sea and a Bulldog, Caswell Bay, Easter Saturday 2015.

Sun, Sea, Sand and a Bulldog, Caswell.

A hit and miss Good Friday left us with a cloudy windy day that there wasn’t much you could do with. Easter Saturday started in a similar way, but by eleven it was looking like spring had finally turned up for Easter. By 1pm the sun was out and the roads to Mumbles and Gower were starting to fill.

Molly Caswell

With a low tide early afternoon and still a little wind around, Caswell Bay was an obvious choice for a sun afternoon, so much so the car park was totally full. After a little while we squeezed the van in and Molly, Sharon and I were on the beach.

Molly and Sharon, Caswell

It didn’t take long to bump into some family members who had had the same idea and this little spanner who is the the latest edition to the Bidder / Blackmore / O’Brien clan.

Baby Spanner and Bulldog

Molly was all over the beach with so much sand to sprint on, but it wasn’t long before she was in the sea…

Molly in the Sea

…under the waves…

Spot the Bulldog

…add leaving vapor trails on her sprint out.

Bulldog Vapor Trails

It really was a family day out with Sharon getting Molly to tow the line.

Sit

When Sharon wasn’t coercing her into the odd selfie…

Sharon Molly Selfie

…or two!

Pet-Selfie

And even I got in a few of the selfies.

DimExcuses & Molly

One with even Sharon and I in it, Molly was taking the picture.

Mark & Sharon

But it wasn’t long before she wanted back in the lime light.

Molly Caswell.

If that French Bulldog Cross isn’t in the sea, she is in the rock pools.

Rock Pool Molly

And Caswell has plenty of rock pools at low tide.

Strike a Pose

Caswell Bay is a fantastic stretch of sand more than it is a rock pool safari like Pobbles Bay. So today like any other Molly the Bulldog was all over the Caswell beach.

Molly Caswell Sand

Which left us with one small problem, how to get this beach bulldog to agree to get off the beach?

Molly Caswell

So with a late start it has been an awesome Easter Saturday, which leaves one question, what beach are you going to tomorrow? We are off to Newgale, DimExcuses.

StormWatch Surf Bulldog, Caswell Bay, March 29th 2015

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It has been a pretty dark, wet and windy weekend, culminating in 50 to 60 mph winds today.  With my swaying fence looking like it won’t make it to April and the scafolding groaning on the roof, I decided ignorance is bliss and headed down to a dark Caswell Bay with Molly and Sharon.

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The Gower Live Website was saying Caswell had head to overhead surf, but with this wind it was a nasty mess. If you could get out through the punishing white water there was a head high face, but it was looking dark and mean.

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Several surfers were giving it a try, and fair play some serious waves were getting ridden. We on the other hand we staying with playing stick in the shallows.

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Two surfers decided to brave it with short boards. Molly ran down to give them some heavy swell pointers.

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Before focusing back on her stick.

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People tell you French bulldogs don’t swim, but Molly says different.

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And if she is not in the sea she is in the river.

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Looking majestic as always.

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This is one surf bulldog looking forward to the end of StormWatch and for a spring to emerge.

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One thing is sure, whatever the weather we will be down the Gower beaches, DimExcuses.

Gower Code Red. Storm Surge January 2014

Storm Rider

They are calling it a 50 year storm. Record high tides, combined with a massive swell and extremely bad weather pushed in by an overactive jet stream.  This almost perfect storm surge is the freaky side affect of our relatively mild winter temperatures. The weather men forecast it, the surf charts saw it coming and the relevant authorities issued weather warnings. So irresponsibly we took Molly the puppy out for a look at what this storm was going to do to Gower.

Molly & the Storm

Heading out last night, Langland was our first stop, and fair play it was awesome, but there is no lighting down there, which meant it was hazardous and we couldn’t get any photos.  Just one of Molly surveying the surf.

Caswell Surf Chaos

Limeslade was better lit and the waves were breaking over the road, but again the storm was making photography impossible.  Heading to Caswell Bay it was absolute chaos.  The sea was crossing the road and the storm foam was moving into the car park. After I got this very poor shot of the chaos it was time to head home and dry off.

Langland Surfer

Today (Saturday 04/01/14) the storm has passed for a while but more high tides are due. We headed down to Caswell to survey the impact of last nights storm. Just leaving the car park the damage and mess is clear.

Caswell after the storm

If it wasn’t driftwood across the road…

Driftwood across the road at Caswell

…it was boulders thrown up on the beach head.

Caswell Storm Damage

The poor old Surfside Cafe had been completely overwhelmed. Water had got in and churned the whole place up.

Surfside Cafe, Caswell

The damage to the shutters is clear and that then just let the waves in.  Let’s hope they get it fixed up soon without too much distress to the owners, Molly and I love their latte with a bacon bagel.

Surfside Cafe

The surf at Caswell was looking a complete mess, massive and dangerous.  Two surfers were in the water, but they were just getting a right royal pasting.

Surfboard Langland

We decided to head around to Langland Bay as it should be getting a better wave due to its more sheltered positioning on the Gower coast. The improvement in weather combined with the dropping tide produced some epic Langland surf and plenty of riders were in the water trying to make the most of the heavy conditions.  There was a good break between sets, but the set waves were massive.

Langland Storm

The reduction in wind was ensuring some clean faces…

Two riders Langland

…as long as you made the drop.

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Apparently these high tides are continuing until at least Monday, the swell doesn’t appear to be dropping much and more storms are on the way.  Anything could happen, watch this space and stay safe, DimExcuses.

 

Exploring Gower is for life not just Christmas.

Caswell

Or should I say get down to the beach in all weathers and seasons? How many people just got to Gower in the Summer, or don’t go even though it on their doorstep? Or worst of all only drive to Rhossili when relatives visit to show them ‘how lucky we are to have all this’.

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The health and well being benefits of just getting out and about at this time of year are so important, especially when it is dark by 4pm!  That is why we have been making the effort to take Molly (our puppy) down to the Gower beaches this Christmas.

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As a side note we have found out that Molly is a ‘Frenchton’, the official name for a French Bulldog, Boston Terrier cross.

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The low sun at this time of year really brings out the rugged beauty of the Gower bays.

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All these photos were taken at Caswell Bay, which is nice and accessible in all weathers which is great in December.

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You also get much of the beach to yourself as everyone else is watching ‘The Great Escape’ (is that still on every Christmas?) with a box of Quality Street on their lap.

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So what further encouragement do you need, get up, get out and explore Gower or the rest of South West Wales! Merry Christmas, DimExcuses.

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