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.

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.

Mentro 20. Surfing All Saints Day, Rhossili Bay, Gower 1st November 2015.

Surfing All Saints Day

It is the 1st November already, All Saints Day, or as it used to be known All Hallows Day. Which is why it is preceded by All Hallows Eve, or as it is called now Halloween. Well it is here and El Nino has let Gower have some unseasonable sun and warm weather.

Rhossili Bay 1st November

With water temperatures still cool rather than cold I headed for Rhossili Bay, Gower and the first of the winter swells.

Misty Rhossili

As well as the unusual weather we also had an unusual south easterly wind, which means offshore winds and clean blue lines. Perfect accompaniment to that solid winter swell.

Surf Rhossili

I managed to join fellow Gower surfer and South Wales surf twitterer Paul (@b_bstephens on twitter). He was getting a lot of waves in the clean conditions. We were surfing on the falling tide and the wind was increasing as we lost the cover of Rhossili headland.

Low tide Rhossili Bay, Gower

The sun had brought the autumn tourists out and the car park was a lot busier than when I took a similar photo of my board in a previous autumn visit to Rhossili Bay, Gower.

Rhossili Bay Car Park

With the sun out and the air so warm for autumn some people were making the most of the Worms Head Hotel beer garden, and there were plenty of surfers to entertain them below.

Worms Head Hotel

The strange weather soon saw an eerie sea mist descend on the horizon. Unusual autumn conditions indeed.

Sea Mist Rhossili Gower

Great weather, great surf and the winter chill is still staying away. El Nino is growing on me.

Gower Surfing

So this was Mentro 20 in my #Mentro21 challenge to surf 21 times this year. Just one more surf to go, DimExcuses.

The Usual Suspects. DimExcuses Big Gower Walk 2015.

DimExcuses Big Gower Walk

It has taken me a month to get these photos up. Every September we take the first Gower bus to Rhossili Bay, and then walk 19 miles on the South Gower coast to the finish in Bishopston. It is like a end of summer ritual, and it is great to see all the usual suspects on the bus each year.

Gower Bus

The starting line up for the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk 2015.

DimExcuses Usual Suspects

You can read about the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk, 2013 by clicking here.

And the following years’ DimExcuses Big Gower Walk, 2014 by clicking here.

Big Dogs

Starting in Rhossili the sun was low and Rhossili Down cast a long shadow across the bay. A lovely wave coming in too.

Morning Gower Sun

A quick toilet stop, and we head off across the fields towards Port Eynon, soaking up the morning dew in our running trainers. This distance is a bit far for hiking boots. Unless you are really used to your boots, blisters are inevitable. I also advise having two changes of socks.

DimExcuses Dire Wolves

The dew wasn’t a problem for Huw and Sarah in their Gortex Trail Shoes. They also brought their massive Dire Wolves straight out of Game of Thrones.

The Wolves

We were lucky with some lovely sun all day. By the time we powered in Port Eynon the sun had burned away the early morning mist.

Port Eynon bound

An essential full cooked breakfast stop at Port Eynon and then it was back onto the Wales Coast Path.

Wales Coast Path

Making our way to Oxwich Bay along the Gower Coast. It wasn’t long before we were in the Oxwich Bay Hotel, checking in with family and picking up some more walkers.

Oxwich

We waved good bye to Huw, Sarah and the Wolf Pack at Oxwich, and gained Tony and his dog Ness. Of course we also picked up Molly the French Bulldog.

Molly on the Big Gower Walk

It was only a matter of time before Molly was at the front, giving advice as we approached Three Cliffs Bay as she knows it so well.

DimExcuses Walk

This is a fantastic walk, and the huge Oxwich Bay section just has to be barefoot all the way in the Gower seawater.

Ade on the Gower Walk

That Oxwich Bay walk seems to go on forever.

Oxwich Bay Walk

The tide was out at Great Tor for once, so we were just able to splash around it and into Three Cliffs Bay itself.

Splashing around Great Tor, Gower

From Three Cliffs it was a short walk into Pobbles Bay. Molly never more at home than when she is in Pobbles Bay, but a herd of cows on Three Cliffs was a new one even for her!

Cows at Pobbles Bay, Gower

A quick liquid refreshment stop at the Southgate Club and then it was onto the final section of Pennard Cliffs and down into Pwll Du Bay.

Pennard Cliffs

By this point we have seen nearly all the South Gower Coast and its great Bays.

Wales Coast Path Pwll Du

We are a weary bunch at this point, before the final finishing leg.

DimExcuses Walk

But once out of Pwll Du, we arrive in Bishopston and the finish at the Joiners Arms. Good thing the Joiners is a micro brewery, because we deserve a pint of Three Cliffs Gold after nine hours and 19 miles walking.

DimExcuses Walk Finish, the Joiners Arms

Another year gone, another summer ended, the seventh Big Gower Walk completed. I expect to see you all there next year, DimExcuses.

Mentro 19. Sunset Dreaming, Rhossili, Gower 11th October 2015

Wormshead Sunset

On Thursday I surfed Rhossili Bay as the sun started to set.  Three days later I was back there, slightly later in the day and with the days now a fraction shorter. The result of which was surfing even closer to the Autumn sunset. This was the 19th surf in my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year.

Surf Colt Sunset

Surely the west facing Wormshead at Rhossili has to be one of the best views that you can frame with a sunset. This time I was joined by regular DimExcuses surfer Darren Green, joining me for some one foot glass with a slight breath of offshore wind.

Rhossili Glass

Two hands on the camera meant that some pre-surf selfies could be taken.

Darren Rhossili

Darren above and myself below.

DimExcuses Rhossili

We got an hour and a half in the water making the most of glassy sets that rolled into Rhossili Bay. Large gaps between sets made paddling out an ease.

Blue Lines Rhossili

The shortening Autumn evenings meant that we made our way out of the surf as the sun started to set, producing some fantastic photos after we had changed and packed up.

Rhossili Bay Sunset

We weren’t the only ones taking in the fading light and sunset dreaming.

Sunset Dreaming

A spectacular sunset, even better than last Thursday. Now though we are wearing winter suits and boots surely won’t be far behind. Tomorrow the first frost is forecast and it will be a return to coldwater surfing as I face my last two #Mentro21 surfs, DimExcuses.

 

Mentro 18. Autumn Warmth, Rhossili Bay, Gower 8th October 2015.

Mentro 18 Rhossili

Autumn is like one great big sunset on the year. Surftember moves into October as leaves brown and fall from the trees. It hasn’t been the best summer and even Surftember didn’t live up to its name. El Nino has ruined the party like a drunken ex-boyfriend crashing an engagement do.

Surf Rhossili

But today on Gower, October offered up some post storm swell and some Autumn sun. So I headed for my usual break, Rhossili Bay. The air is cooling but the high thermal inertia of the sea means it is still a summer 14 degrees C. Air and water almost becoming the same temperature. So I notched up my eighteenth (Mentro 18) surf in my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year.

Mentro 18

Having the day off for my birthday, celebrating 42 years since I came kicking and screaming into this world, I decided to spend it kicking, paddling and screaming into some clean two foot sets in the October sun. I either saw a Portuguese Man-o-war type jellyfish or an inflated plastic bag pretending to be a Portuguese Man-o-war jellyfish. Either way I gave it a wide berth. I also got a scare from a large bass that decided to jump a couple of feet out of the water right next to me, as I sat on my board out back.

Clean Rhossili

There was not a breath of wind. A great change for a usually wind blown Gower.  These two had the best seat in the house to watch the waves.

Best Seat in the House Rhossili

The best thing about October surfing is that by late afternoon everything becomes a sunset.

Rhossili Sunset

I had the sea and pretty much the car park to myself, “after the boys of summer have gone” as Don Henly would say.

Gower Sunset

So the sun sets on Mentro 18, leaving three sessions to go to complete the #Mentro21 project, DimExcuses.

 

 

The Keri Caves by Speed Boat. It is all Greek to me 7. Zante 2015.

Keri Caves Zante

It has taken some time , but this is my final post on my recent trip to Zante, Greece. I have already posted-

It is all Greek to me 1 – Zante Dawn

It is all Greek to me 2 – Jump in the Pool

It is all Greek to me 3 – Banana Beach

It is all Greek to me 4 – Pedalos and Planes

It is all Greek to me 5 – Things we saw in the Sea

It is all Greek to me 6 -Things we saw on the Reef

It was a great holiday, as you can see from the posts above, but I have left the best until last Keri Caves.

Kapetanios Bretania

One of the best ways you can see Keri Caves in Zante is by chartering a speedboat. We chartered two, one with a local pilot so we knew where to go, and one piloted by Mark Crimmings from our party (or as the official pilot called him Kapetanios Bretania).

The last journey of Katetanios Bretania

I was on the official pilot’s boat. He knew the caves so well, zooming in and then back throttling so that we stopped inches from the cave walls.

Cave Exploring

It was really thrilling and the caves are fantastic.

Keri Caves

The water is so blue against the white rocks.

Cave Zante

We anchored up on a shingle bank and explored those blue bays a bit more. The water is really salty which gives you great buoyancy but makes it difficult to dive deep because of the pressure of that denser water.

DimExcuses Snorkel

Here I am, doing the Nirvana Nevermind cover again…

DimExcuses Nevermind

…and Sharon giving the thumbs up.

Sharon Keri Caves

We did actually see some fish after we finished messing around.

Keri Caves Fish

A load of the Saddled Seabream we saw in the earlier post. They seem little bothered by us splashing by.

Saddled Seabream

We only had a short dip as there was still a lot to see on our boat trip.

Keri Caves Boat Trip

You can get up really close to the cave walls with these small speed boats.

DimExcuse Zante

Plenty of caves to explore…

Keri Caves

…and sunny sea to sail…

Danielle Keri Caves

…nipping in and out of the Keri Caves.

Keri Caves Zante

From the Keri Caves it was then a short speedboat trip to Turtle Island. It even looks like a turtle!

Turtle Island

Once on Turtle Island, landing is a bit of a challenge, but we got there in the end.

Turtle Island Ahoy!

Forget the Caretta Caretta turtles on Turtle Island, it has a floating ice-cream van!

Turtle Island Ice Cream Boat

The obligatory beach selfie.

DimExcuses Turtle Beach Selfie

Some arty driftwood shots.

Driftwood Turtle Beach

I guess everything bleaches white in this sun eventually.

Bleached white driftwood.

Sightseeing done it was time to return our speedboats to their moorings and wave goodbye to our guide.

Dolphin Speed Boats

What a great way to end the DimExcuses Greek Odyssey with such a fantastic boat trip.  So there it is my final photos from Zante, Greece, basically it was all Greek to me, DimExcuses.

Things we saw in the sea. It is all Greek to me 5. Zante 2015

Underwater Cave

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.

Zante Snorkeling

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

Underwater DimExcuses

Lewis had an underwater selfie stick, what is the world coming to?

Lewis Selfie Stick

Anyway, back to the wildlife. Quite a shoal here.

Zante Fish

Off they go…

…they must have seen Lewis…

Lewis

…or me! Quite impression of the Nirvana Nevermind Baby.

DimExcuses submerged

But don’t worry there are plenty more fish in the sea, this time baby Barracuda by the surface.

Baby Barracuda

This is a black-tailed Wrasse I think.

Black-tailed Wrasse

Great clear shot of a Saddled Seabream.

Saddled Seabream

Quite happy in the diffused sea sunlight.

Saddled Seabream

Some sort of Wrasse below.

Wrasse

Any identification help will be welcomed.

Wrasse swimming

A small Hermit Crab coming out to say hello.

Hermit Crab

A black tailed something, again it is all Greek to me.

Sun Speckled

This guy is a bit more distinctive, a striped Seabream I think.

Underwater Zante

Oh and a lesser spotted Lewis!

Look who popped up!

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.

 

Mentro 17. Even an end has a start, Sker Beach 25th September 2015.

Keeper of the Dunes

You can spot a rubbish made for TV movie by it having two names. “Terror at 30,000 feet – Flight 364GY” or “A bridge too far – the Jessica Long story”. I made those two up, but what I wanted to highlight in a long winded way is that every #Mentro21 post has three names. First it’s mentro number showing how many times I have surfed this year for the Mentro 21 project. Coming from the Welsh word mentro (to venture), Mentro 21 is my effort to surf 21 times this year. Secondly it has an apt title, this time “Even an end has a start”, and finally what beach was surfed and when. This time it was Sker Beach, Bridgend.

Heading for Sker Beach

With five surfs to go for this project the end is in sight but things are changing. A calendar season person or an equinox season person, you have to agree we are now into autumn. Air temperatures are dropping (the sea is still warm) and days are shortening.

This end has a start, and it starts here, this is probably be the last time I will be able to surf from Kenfig National Nature Reserve after work. The last time walking barefoot through the dunes to surf in a summer suit. To get the last four surfs in is going to take weekend days and a return to a winter suit and wetsuit boots.

Keeping the Kenfig Dunes

Again, because of the long walk to the beach I can’t give you any photos from the beach but can give you these shots of the Kenfig reserve in the falling autumn sun, as it sets on the Keeper of the Dunes.

Famously modeled on our former Sustainable Development Officer Gemma McLean, I gave the Keeper a surfboard to look more like the Outdoor Pursuit loving Skokholm lass she is based on.

Starting a lot to look like Gemma

So it looks like shorter days, with October and November surfing guaranteed to complete the #Mentro21 challenge. Somethings should be simple, even an end has a start. Coldwater surfing for me, DimExcuses

Pedalos and planes. It is all Greek to me 4. Zante 2015

Pedalos Zante

I am still getting through my photos from Zante, Greece.  You can read these earlier posts by clicking the links below:

It is all Greek to me 1, Zante Dawn.

It is all Greek to me 2, Jump in the pool.

It is all Greek to me 3, Banana Beach.

DimExcuses Zante

I still have a load of photos to go. These are taken on Kalamaki Beach when we hired some pedalos.

Kalamaki Beach

As mentioned in the Zante Dawn post, this beach is just before where the planes land, so you often see them flying overhead.

Kalamaki Plane

It is quite surreal as you pedal about and dive in the water to see the planes soaring over you so close.

Plane & Pedalo

I wonder if they could look down and see us snorkeling by our pedallo?

Plane Zante

Snorkeling here is great fun, but you won’t see much in this bay at this time of year, unless you come down really early and catch the turtles hatching.

Underwater Zante

I am sure in this photo Sharon is trying to run me over with the pedalo. It makes for one of my most unusual selfies! That look on my face is all about being twice out of my depth and the camera I am holding doesn’t float!

In water selfie

Sharon insisted on a pedalo with a sun shade, probably wise in this sun.

Parasol Pedalo

We let the kids with us roast in the sun.

Pedalo Zante 2015

Snorkeling done and all pedaled out, it was time to try out the beach bar on Kalamaki Beach…

Kalamaki Beach Bar

…and catch one last plane shot.

Plane Kalamaki

This Mediterranean life was starting to suit me.

DimExcuses Beach Life

Next we went and snorkeled in some more wildlife populated parts of the coast, but that is a whole different post that I will upload soon, DimExcuses.