DimExcuses Start of Spring Walk 2018.

It all started with the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk, a yearly walk in September, 19 miles in 9 hours taking in the best of the South Gower Coast. Then there was the DimExcuses Mid Winter Walk, a 10K on the rest of the South Gower coast racing the sunset from Pwll Du Bay to Mumbles.

Now we are aiming to do four DimExcuses walks every year, with each one on the equinox of each season. So this was the first DimExcuses Start of Spring Walk. Starting at Gowerton Station we took the train to Pembrey and Bury Port Station and then basically walked a half marathon back along the Wales Coast Path.

I tracked the walk in two legs, before and after lunch. You can see the Strava data for the first leg here, and also a Relive video of the first part here.

We had the DimExcues Dogs Oakley and Molly with us, but Molly only did the first walk because she is a bit small for a walk of that length.

Oakley is big enough to do the whole lot and take it in his stride.

You can see the Strava for the second leg here, and another Relive video of the second part here.

It was a great walk, and we were lucky with the weather. The only issue was that the whole 14 miles were on tarmac, so that took a hard toll on knees, hips and backs. We are used to the grass and sand of the DimExcuses End of Summer Walk.

It was a cracking day and we did it all in about six hours including lunch. A full gallery of all photos is below, just click on a thumbnail to see the larger photos. So we are now thinking about a DimExcuses Mid Summer Walk, you should come on that one, DimExcuses.

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Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 4.

This is the forth gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 3.

This is the third gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 2

This is the second gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 1.

This is the first gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2018. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Three Cliffs, Pobbles, Winter 2017.

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.

Luck runs out. DimExcuses End of Summer Walk 2017.

The DimExcuses End of Summer Walk is in its ninth year, and this is my 6th time on this epic big Gower walk. We have always been lucky. This 19 mile, 9 hour end of summer ritual has generally been great weather, and our irresponsible approach to never checking the tide times has never stung us too badly…

The start of this years walk was no exception. It hasn’t been the best summer, but as we waited by the bus stop in Killay, to get the first Gower bus to Rhossili, the sun was starting to sneak out.

There were eleven of us on the bus, and we got over the first hurdle of getting the driver to let our massive wolf on! Technically a Husky, German Shepard cross, Oakley is definitely quite dire wolf in appearance.

Arriving at Rhossili we were met with End of Summer Walk first timer Lauren, bringing us up to twelve walkers. Lauren wasn’t the only new feet, we were also joined by Ellie, Ben, Ian, Ffion and Harry, all who had never undertaken this epic effort before. A quick team picture with the famous Rhossili Bay in the background and we were off!

A forced march cross-country taking in the amazing South Gower cliffs and we were soon in Port Eynon.

The fantastic staff at the Captains Table had reserved us a table and bent the breakfast deadline to sort us out with breakfasts of varying size. Obviously I had a big breakfast as it was a big walk. After thoroughly enjoying our breakfasts, it was team photo two, before making the sheltered coastal walk to Oxwich. The weather was fantastic, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were (at this point).

We were soon sitting at the Oxwich Bay Hotel enjoying a pint in the sunshine. At that point friends and relatives were ringing us to say the rain was coming down in sheets in Swansea and heading our way.

We were still in buoyant mood, we could see the rainfall in the distance but we seemed to be skirting past it.

It was at this point we realised that it was almost high tide and Tor Bay was totally cut off by the tide.  This meant we have to do a huge sandy climb over Little Tor. The view was quite spectacular back to Oxwich Bay.

It was then that that rain hit us. Right when we were most exposed on Penmaen Cliffs…

…and we still had the problem that it was high tide at Three Cliffs Bay and we had another hard sandy climb ahead of us. Our luck had well and truly run out. This was the hardest the End of Summer Walk has ever been. I even thought we would not make it to Southgate.

We made it to the Southgate Club like drowned rats. There was talk of abandoning the walk there, but that was quickly dismissed as not the DimExcuses way. The new walkers were some of the most keen to press on to the end! My girlfriend Sharon and our dog Molly came to our rescue bringing some dry clothes to the Southgate Club and taking our drenched ones. Apologies to the football crowd in the Southgate who suddenly had eleven soaking walkers changing around them in the busy pub.

As we changed the weather opened up again and we continued on to Pwll Du Bay before the final climb to Bishopston and the Joiners Arms. Sharon came to our rescue again ferrying people back to their cars in Killay.

Next year we will change the end of the walk to double back to the Gower Inn which is on the bus route back to the cars.

So our luck did finally run out, but we took it in our stride and completed the ninth DimExcuses End of Summer Walk.  A full gallery of images is below. Next year is the tenth anniversary walk, so you need to be on it with us, DimExcuses.

 

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.

Take the High Road, Pobbles & Pennard Cliffs. 19th August 2017.

Sometimes you have to change your perspective on things. Usually a quick straight walk down Pobbles Bay, Gower is my go to quick walk for taking my dog Molly to the beach. But I fancied a change and a different view of Pobbles for once.

Pobbles is my favourite beach. You can read my DimExcuses Pobbles Beach Guide here. It is also a beach visited on my classic 5km Pennard Castle, Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles circular walk. Sometimes it even gets surf!

This was one of those days when it had a surf-able swell. It has been a hit and miss summer, so we decided to make the most of this Sunny Saturday.

We did our usual walk down from Pennard, past Pennard Golf Club, but then climbed out of the bay up to the plateau of Pennard Cliffs to get a different view of the famous Three Cliffs.

Molly is as happy on the limestone rocks of Pobbles as she is on the beach.

Looking back you get a great view of the west side of Three Cliffs and Pobbles Bay in front of it. Just as to get to the top and onto Pennard Cliffs you can also see across to the greens of Pennard Golf Course. Molly stopped for a pose with course behind her…

..before a quick drop and roll.

Molly is always happiest on the Gower Coast. Total adventure french bulldog.

Once the cliffs were climbed we headed back through Southgate village to complete our Pobbles, Pennard Cliffs loop, and as we were passing the Southgate Club, it would be rude not to stop for a pint of Gower Power!

We are definitely making the most of this Gower summer, no matter what the weather, DimExcuses.

Almost Summer. Three Cliffs Bay, 28th May 2017.

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.