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.

#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.

It is a big walk in Gower. DimExcuses end of summer walk 2016.

DimExcuses End of Summer Walk

“Let’s make one thing clear” Darren Green informed our small group in a windy Rhossili car park, “it is the DimExcuses end of summer walk, always has been and always will be” referring to our traditional September walk now in its seventh year. “A big Gower walk it maybe, but that is note its name”. I stand corrected.

DimExcuses Gower Walk

The DimExcuses end of summer walk is a nine hour, 17 to 19 mile walk (dependent on the tide) from Rhossili Bay along the South Gower Coast to the village of Bishopston. It takes in the South Gower bays of Rhossili, Fall Bay, Mewslade, Port Eynon, Horton, Slade, Oxwich, Tor Bay, Three Cliffs, Pobbles, Heatherslade, Hunts Bay and Pwll Du. You get to see it all, you will definitely find your epic as the hours and miles mount up.

DimExcuses Gower

You can see pictures from previous years by clicking the dates below.

2013 pictures, 2014 Pictures, 2015 pictures.

This year we were a small contingent, made up of founding members Darren Green and Paul Jones, regular walker Ade Price, myself and the new feet of Chris Bidder and Rachel Bidder. As always we start off on the first bus out of Swansea into Gower.

First bus out of Swansea to Gower

Arriving in a windy and cloudy Rhossili it is a obligatory group selfie before going cross country to get a full fry up in Port Eynon.

DimExcuses End of Summer Walk

It was certainly a windy one.

Windy Gower Walk

There is always something new every year on the end of summer walk and this year it was the breakfast. We have always loved the Captains Table cafe in Port Eynon, trying to stop there each year for a fine breakfast. This year it is in new hands and the breakfast was outstanding. The Captains Table (facebook page here) does a range of breakfasts, small, large, veggie small, veggie large and the almighty Captain’s Breakfast. We all had a Captain’s Breakfast, setting a record for the most Captain’s Breakfast ordered in one go, DimExcuses.

Captain's Breakfast Port Eynon

Now powered by a Captain’s Breakfast we head off under the clouds along the Wales Coast Path to Oxwich. Sometimes it was a straight and narrow path,  a very narrow path.

Gower the straight and narrow path

We passed another group using a map. No maps for us, just keep the sea to your right. That seemed to work as we successfully got to Oxwich. A quick pint of Gower Gold to wash away the remains of that breakfast and then we were off across the beach.

Apint of Gower Gold at Oxwich

The beach was quickly followed by a climb over Great Tor to Three Cliffs.

Climbing Great Tor

The tide was in so we had to climb over Three Cliffs too.

Three Cliffs DimExcuses Walk

From Three Cliffs it was a walk to the South Gate Club for some more Gower Gold before the final leg through Pwll Du Bay and finishing in The Joiners Arms in Bishopston for several pints of Three Cliffs Gold.

No map, no compass

With weary feet and big smiles we finished the epic walk and narrowly avoided the heavy rain. You can see all the photos from our adventure in the gallery below. We are all looking forward to the DimExcuses end of summer walk next year. You should come, 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.

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.

#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.

 

Three Cliffs Bay, Mother’s Day 2016

Molly Three Cliffs Bay

With a disappointing start to spring and generally cold weather, it was nice to have a cracking dry day for Mothering Sunday.

Three Cliffs Bay

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!

Three Cliffs River (Illston Pill)

Once in the valley it is easy to walk along the board walk to Three Cliffs Bay itself.

Spring Three Cliffs

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.

Three Cliffs Cave

Getting through Three Cliffs Cave was particularly challenging.

Molly, Rocky and Sadie at Three Cliffs Bay.

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.

Three Cliffs Bay Circular Walk from National Trust Car Park.

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay has to be at the top of any must see beach list. Possibly only topped in Gower by Rhossili Bay, which has once again been named as TripAdvisor best beach in Wales this month. Three Cliffs Bay is often featured in this blog and Molly the French Bulldog and I have a regular walk there via Pennard Castle.

Pennard Cliffs Bulldog

As regularly as Three Cliffs Bay is featured in this blog it is rare to see it from this angle. This is due to me joining the National Trust since it bought Rhossili Bay Car Park.

Low tide Three Cliffs

Being a member of the National Trust entitles you to use all their car parks for free. Not only do the National Trust have that great car park in Rhossili they also have a car park on Pennard Cliffs to the east of Three Cliffs right in the middle of the South Gower Coast.

Spot the bulldog

The National Trust Car Park on Pennard Cliffs is a great base for walking and exploring the Gower, with Hunts Bay really close by and Pwll Du Bay an option for someone looking for a longer walk. But its greatest attraction is that it is the easiest way to see Three Cliffs Bay by taking a short flat walk along Pennard Cliffs. Molly loves it on those cliffs, try and spot the small french bulldog in the above picture.

Molly on Pennard Cliffs

The cliffs are unfenced and have quite serious drops to the sea below so it maybe a good idea to keep children and more unpredictable dogs well away from the cliff edge. Luckily there are plenty of safe paths in land from the cliff edge to get you safely above Pobbles Bay and looking out across Three Cliffs Bay itself. As part of our ongoing #StormWatch Molly and I noted that the storm sand erosion at the mouth of Pobbles Bay is still very evident with it being of almost entirely exposed pebbles. This is causing some access problems as I noted when we last visited Pobbles Bay.

Storm Erosion Pobbles Bay

Now at this point you can just turn around and retrace your steps back along the flat Pennard Cliffs or you can drop down into Pobbles Bay and get onto the beach, but remember that what goes down must eventually climb back up. Undeterred by that Molly and I were straight down there with our feet in the sand.

Beach Bulldog

You can see all of Pobbles Bay and adjoining Three Cliffs Bay once you are on the beach. To make this a nice circular walk back to the National Trust Car Park you can walk up from Pobbles Bay to Pennard Golf Club and back through the village of Southgate. You can see the route we took on Strava here.

Three Cliffs Circular Walk

It is a great walk with fantastic views of Three Cliffs Bay. It is a good winter walk that you can do in all weathers, watch the cliff edge in high winds though.  You should try it, DimExcuses.