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.

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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.

The Beast from the East meets the Gower Monster. Darth Mannion 2018.

The Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Challenge, the Gower cross county half marathon is tough at the best of times. You can see how tough it was in previous years here:

2015 Darth Mannion

2016 Darth Mannion

2017 Darth Mannion

This year the weather forecast was really bad. The Beast from the East weather system that brought the country to a stand still a week ago was making its return with bitter winds, low temperatures and snow forecast.

Some of the sea submersion had to be left out of the route, because of a real threat of participant hypothermia. The route was also changed to take out the steep decent at Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Valley featured more. You can see why the Pennard Castle Decent was wisely removed in these amazing photos from 2015.

The race is getting so popular that the field is getting larger every year. This meant that by the time everyone had passed me I was unable to get to Pwll Du Bay, as I have done in previous years, but this allowed me to get some new shots in Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay. The full galleries can be seen in the links below.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 1.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 2.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 3.

Darth Mannion 2018. Gallery 4.

There are some epic shots as this Monster Gower Run hit the Beast from the East head on, but there were also a lot of smiles over a lot of miles. I am sure many will be back next year and hoping for a return to more spring like weather, 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.

 

Riders on the Storm 2017.

Every now and then the weather is just too bad for surfing the usual breaks and you have to find a sheltered bay and just ride it out. Sometimes these storm days are the most fun.

With high winds, heavy rain, very unsettled weather and a big swell this weekend, surfing Rhossilli or Llangenith just wasn’t an option.

So we headed to Caswell Bay during a lull in the storm to surf the steep powerful waves coming in. It was short boards and bodyboards only, with fast suicide drops into these steep closing out waves.

I was joined by Sharon, Fin and our trusty waterproof Nikon S33 camera.

No Molly this time as dogs are still not allowed on Caswell Beach until the end of the month. For full details on the Swansea and Gower Summer dog bans click here.

It was a really wet afternoon, but rain doesn’t really matter when you are surfing, and we had plenty of sunny spells.

It was more a day for the bodyboard, but the short board drops were serious fun, even though most drops turned into wipeouts.

Fin was taking the bodyboard all the way to the shore in the powerful white water.

The storm force waves really teach young surfers about the power of the waves. It is great to see someone concentrating on the conditions and learning a lot.

I like to pass the baton down to the next generation of Wild West Wales Surfers.

I love that sharing of the enjoyment of just being in the sea and the infectious fun of surfing. The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun.

These powerful waves were small but really good fun.

The waves were impressive in shape as the walls rose up.

We really enjoyed and it was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon.

I never regret getting in the water no matter what the conditions. Hopefully I will get in a lot more as Surftember turns into October, DimExcuses.

The best of South Gower in one day.

We often have visitors down over the summer. It is amazing that those from further afield tend to embrace the must see sites, while family and friends often neglect the little gems on their doorstep. So this summer we have been sharing our favorite beaches with all our visitors. At the start of the summer we took some family members on our legendary Three Cliffs Pobbles Loop, and last week we introduced some more family to the fantastic Pwll Du Bay.

Our guided trips must be popular, because this week we had more visitors wanting to see the best of South Gower in one day. So we had to start with that legendary Three Cliffs Bay, Pobbles Bay loop that goes past Pennard Castle. You can read all about the route here, or you can see our strava route here. I am also using the Relive app so here is a 3D aerial video of our route too.

The view from Pennard Castle of Three Cliffs Bay is fantastic, as you can see above. You can then walk around the golf course to the headland, or if the tide is out you can take the steep walk down into the valley. You may need a hand…

If you think that looks tricky you should checkout how the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge runners descend it at speed. Once down in Three Cliffs Valley it is a much more of a gentle stroll, that then opens up into an incredible view of Three Cliffs itself. You can read my DimExcuses Three Cliffs Beach Guide here.

With the tide out you can climb through the cave in Three Cliffs and get through to Pobbles Bay. It is a massive beach at low tide.

You can read my DimExcuses Pobbles Beach Guide here. Right out on its furthest east corner is the headland of Shirecombe. You can find some serious rock gullies here full of seaweed and rock pool residents. If you know what you are doing you can look for edible crabs here too, but please respect the tide, it can come in behind you fast!

Once we had taken in both Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay we took the path out of Pobbles up to Pennard Golf Club and back to our van. We took our guests to the dog friendly Beaufort Pub in Kittle (other Gower Pubs are available) for some light bites and a pint of Gower Gold.

A standard Three Cliffs adventure that you can see many times on this website, but today was all about getting the best of South Gower in one day. So we got back in the van and headed to the furthest West point in Gower, the world famous Rhossili Bay. You can read my DimExcuses Rhossili Beach Guide here.

The National Trust have taken over the car park at Rhossili it is really well run with fantastic friendly staff. With loads of parking you have loads that you can see and do. If you are a really hardy walker you can walk down to the beach itself, or if you really want to find your epic you can surf Rhossili Bay! Both activities will require a tough climb back up the path to the headland.

For the less energetic, I would recommend staying on the headland and taking the short walk out to the Coastguard Hut by Worms Head causeway. It is here that you can take the walk to Worms Head itself, but that is a serious adventure that you will have to plan in advance taking into account the tide times. The causeway is only open at certain times of the tide. You wouldn’t want to get stuck out there!

We just stayed on the headland and took in the panoramic views.

All the best of South Gower in one day! Maybe you can take your visitors on the same adventure. 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.