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.

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Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 3.

This is the third gallery from the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge 2017. You can find an index of all four galleries here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open and view the gallery, DimExcuses.

Mud, sweat and tears. The Darth Mannion 2017.

This is my third year photographing the Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Run Challenge (to give it it’s full name).

You can see photos from 2016 here, and photos from 2015 here.

This year was the biggest and best so far. The route was longer, but still included the fiver runs and sea dips that this extreme Gower half marathon is famous for. The number of runners was also up with well over 400 runners this year.

The weather was worse than previous years with high winds and heavy mist. How can you even have those two weather conditions at the same time?

But it is the spirit of the Darth that everyone gets round the course and finish with big smiles.

I am slowing working through my photos and I will get them all up by the end of the weekend. The following links will be clickable once they are available.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 1.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 2.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 3.

Darth Mannion 2017 Gallery 4.

Time for me to get editing, 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.

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.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du Gallery 2.

 

Run Regulator Run

Pwll Du Gallery 2, hot on the heels of the earlier posted gallery. I took over 100 photos of the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion 2016. So I have made two galleries so you can see all the action from this extreme Gower running challenge. This is the second gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 2.  You can see all the previous pictures from the first gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 1.

You can also read about the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge here.

This is my last post from the Darth Mannion 2016, but you can be sure I will be down there capturing the action next year, DimExcuses.

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du Gallery 1.

DSCN4085

I took over 100 photos of the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion 2016. So I have made two galleries so you can see all the action from this extreme Gower running challenge. This is the first gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 1.  You can see all the remaining pictures in the second gallery – Pwll Du Gallery 2.

You can also read about the Pwll Du section of the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge here.

Have a look through and see who you can spot making the cold plunge, DimExcuses.

 

Darth Mannion 2016. Pwll Du River Run.

Pwll Du River Run

Once again the Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge was an epic affair. Pwll Du saw the deepest and most exciting river run. I was there to give you a glimpse of the action.

Into the river!

I had already seen the runners at Pennard Castle, you can read about that here, and see the full gallery here. That was a steep dune decent, this was a much more watery affair.

Darth Mannion River Run

I arrived just in time to see Dom finishing the river run.

Dom running the Darth Mannion

While Alun was having a quick think about starting his cold dip.

Alun on the Darth Mannion

Others were just taking the plunge.

Go Deep.

That was one deep and cold start to the river run that runs from Pwll Du beach all the way to the ford, before the soaked runners make their way to Brandy Cove on the last leg of this extreme run.

Keep Smiling

The regulators and veterans were taking it all in their stride,their waste deep in freezing water stride.

Regulators Mount Up

Putting a brave face on cold legs rubbing against submerged objects along the irregular river bed.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

The field was very spread out so runners were still running into the valley from Pennard Cliffs as others were deep into their river run.

Entering Pwll Du

The entrance to the start of the river run was soon seeing a queue to jump into the frigid waters.

Queuing to river run

Katy and her crowd were being particularly noisey about their river entry.

These Girls Can

Having a moan about it being cold. It was only nine degrees!

Katy G

The river was soon full with runners.

Darth Mannion River Run Pwll Du

Some had the tactic of taking their top off and carrying it above their head to keep it dry.

Darth Mannion Shirts Off

Some others like Kirsten here just got soaked through.

Darth mannion Kirsten

Here is some more runners utilizing the shirt carrying tactic.

Keep those shirts dry

The only thing is you have to get in the river and keep that top dry at the same time, like Rhian here was discovering.

River Entry

Even the toughest regulators were carrying their kit on their heads.

Darth Mannion Beach & Swamp Run Challenge

I can’t tell you what Joel here said to me as he passed.

Joel Doing the Darth Mannion

Best just summarize that he went past, cheered on by the massive crowd of one man and his dog.

Nothing to see here

This river run is immensely challenging. Knees and joints are stiff and sore at this point as most of the cross country half marathon is behind them.  But now sore joints become cold joints and clothes get wet, heavy and energy sapping.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du River

This is the deepest river run on the Darth Mannion and it is the longest period that the runners have to face in the cold water. That doesn’t stop them having fun and giving me the thumbs up. A big thumbs up is guaranteed to get you featured in the DimExcuses blog.

Thumbs Up

That’s the spirit!

The Darth Mannion Spirit

Others were just focused on keeping their packs dry.

Darth Mannion wading

Everyone is relieved to get to the end of the river run at Pwll Du and get out at the ford.

Nearly there

I must be a great feeling to climb that bank and know it is only the run around to Brandy Cove, one more sea submersion and the climb up to Pwll Du Head to go!

Climbing out of the river.

The organizers of the Darth Mannion ensure that you are safe and supported in each peleton. Here the regulators are making sure their group get back home and dry. Well as dry as you can be at the end of a river run!

Home and almost dry

The river run at Pwll Du once again proved to be an entertaining section on this year’s Darth Mannion. I have over a hundred photos from the river run, so I will split these up into two albums (Pwll Du Gallery 1 and Pwll Du Gallery 2) and post them in two further blog posts. Click on the links in the brackets above to view the galleries, DimExcuses.

A taste of the Darth Mannion 2016. Team Bruvver.

Team Bruvver

Do you want to know what yesterday’s Darth Mannion Beach and Swamp Challenge was like? Hot off the press we have the experience of the DimExcuses runners – Team Bruvver.

Darth Mannion

Not afraid to do their own stunts, Team Bruvver is made up of my brothers Chris & Steve, joined by my brothers in law Matt & Jamie. Note my french bulldog Molly giving wise advice from the sidelines.

Dr Bidz

The Darth Mannion is a half marathon across Gower with several river runs and full sea submersions. Visit the official Darth Mannion site here, to learn more. I have almost 200 photos to sort through from the event and will posting these over the next week. Until then checkout the experiences of this brave few.

Darth Mannion Team Bruvver

Here they are about 7 km into the race charging down the steep sand dune from Pennard Castle in Three Cliffs Valley.

Gravity is a bitch

Nice to see them running as a team.  Taking careful steps on that steep decent.

Dune Runners

Here you can see how epic that decent is with the mighty Three Cliffs Bay in the background.

On wards to Pobbles

The Darth Mannion is a sprawling Gower course, but I was only able to support the team at two locations, so once they had left Pennard Castle I shot over to Pwll Du to see them do the final river run. Jamie now leading the way, but the team very tight together.

Splash Down

The initial cold splash down!

Cold River

All four runners making the frigid dip.

Into the river

A mixture of grimaces and smiles. Mainly grimaces.

Team Bruvver River Run

That Pwll Du section is a long hard river run (wade).

Lamie Team Bruvver

Chris (Dr Bidz) at this point making an unofficial toilet stop.

Charge!

A brief hint of warm water for Steve.

The only "warm" water.

I will be uploading more photos all this week and I have photos of most of the runners. All of our team made it home safe, and we are very proud of them. Dr Bidz has written a detailed blog of his road to the Darth that you can read here. Maybe it will inspire you to do it next year, DimExcuses.