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.

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#StormWatch. Riding the Storm, Oxwich, Gower 20th August 2016.

Surfing Oxwich Bay

This has been on our #StormWatch radar for over a week. A massive unseasonable storm heading for the UK. Winds over 40 mph, and a ground swell of 12 feet plus. Adding to that there was a high spring tide that threatened storm surge conditions. All of which meant that nearly every Gower break was death on a stick!

Is there surf in Oxwich Bay?

Warnings were in place, surfers were urging people to look out for each other on social media, and the seafront businesses were putting their sea defenses in place. Lessons have be learned from since 2014 when Caswell was decimated by a storm surge (high tide coinciding with a large storm). It is times like these when the only surfing choice is Oxwch Bay, Gower.

Oxwich Surf

You may ask does Oxwich Bay get surf? It is the most fickle beach. It is a sheltered bay that faces south east. That orientation is for rare for a Gower surf beach as most face west or south west. That south east orientation makes Wales’ prevailing south west wind an offshore wind, giving Oxwich tall, steep and hollow waves when it has surf.

Surfing Oxwich August 2016

The problem is that it virtually never ever gets waves. It is so sheltered there is sometimes not even a ripple, which makes it an ideal Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) destination.  There needs to be a 15 foot swell to get a 1 foot wave at Oxwich. This storm was hovering around 11 – 13 foot. The fantastic surf conditions website GowerLive was saying there was just a 0.5 foot wave at Oxwich. That was good enough for me to have a punt.

DimExcuses Surf Oxwich

The fierce offshore wind was pushing the wave faces up and it was more like a consistent 1 foot wave, fast, step and exciting to ride as it closed out hard and heavy. A very rewarding surf.  It was well worth going in. I snagged this hollow face below just as it closed out. My girlfriend Sharon taking this photo just at the right time.

Hollow wave at Oxwich

Now I am looking beyond this storm. The best surf is always after the storm. All the bays should be back to safe conditions with a good swell by Tuesday (23/08/16), so start planning your next session, DimExcuses.

StormWatch. The calm between Storm Gertrude and Storm Henry. Langland to Caswell Bay, January 2016.

Path from Langland to Caswell

No sooner than we have taken a battering from Storm Gertrude and Storm Henry is on the way. The Met. Office is naming all the UK storms this winter and the list is already decided. The list is alphabetical and alternates boy girl, like the seating plan in my old GCSE Chemistry class back in the day at Bishopston Comprehensive.

StormWatch

The list of 2015 / 2016 UK winter storm names are:

  • Abigail
  • Barney
  • Clodagh
  • Desmond
  • Eva
  • Frank
  • Gertrude
  • Henry
  • Imogen
  • Jake
  • Katie
  • Lawrence
  • Mary
  • Nigel
  • Orla
  • Phil
  • Rhonda
  • Steve
  • Tegan
  • Vernon
  • Wendy

So this weekend Storm Gertrude had finally past us and we heard Storm Henry was on the way. Taking advantage of the calm between the storms Molly my Frenchton and I decided to get down Langland Bay and walk the Wales Coastal Path to Caswell Bay, to maintain our Gower StormWatch and check out the post storm surf.

Rotherslade Bay

Firstly we entered Rothersalde Bay (slightly east of Langland) as the tide was falling as can be seen above. We could just about make it around to Langland Bay as the tide fell but it required some rock scrambling.

Molly StormWatch Langland

In Langland itself the surf was pumping in and the surfers were making their way in. You can see why it is Gower’s premier surfing beach.

Surfers Langland, Gower

Through the surf was large the conditions were good and waves quite clean so the SUP (Stand Up Paddleboards) guys were going in too.

SUP Langland Bay

The walk around to Caswell Bay was equally impressive in the post storm conditions.

Storm Gertrude Surf Caswell

It was a fantastic day for a walk, Molly and I racked up 7.5 km walking in the end. With this endless rain and storm after storm you have to make the most of the calm between the storms and get out there, DimExcuses.

Stormwatch. After the wind drops the surf rises up. Langland / Caswell 2nd January 2016.

StormWatch Langland

Rain, rain and more rain as storm after storm hits the UK and temperatures refuse to drop to anyway near average temperatures for this time of year. Coupled with high winds the weather has not been good for getting out and about in South Wales.  As always I have been on the StormWatch, especially on the DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk earlier in the week when I saw Caswell Bay had yet again got a bit of a hammering. Nothing like when Caswell  was devastated in January 2014,  thankfully the storm protection measures put in since then seem to be holding up.

DimExcuses Surf Langland

But yesterday (the second day in January 2016) was a respite from the recent storm generated wind and rain. Spotting a good few hours of decent weather Sharon, Molly and I headed down to Rotherslade Bay, to walk around to Langland and Caswell Bay. You can follow our route on Strava here.  Before we had even left the car, we could see that the massive storm swell was still here, but now with no wind to spoil those big peaks and they were coming into Langland in beautiful massive straight lines.

StormWatch Caswell

Caswell Bay was no different with plenty of surfers in the water due to the above average temperatures. There was a 10 degree air temperature which matched the 10 degree water temperature. The sun even came out for a bit and with no wind it felt more like 13 or 14 degrees.  The beach at Caswell looked more like late autumn or early spring with families playing games and having BBQs. There were people in short sleeves, some in shorts, and even some bare foot walkers dipping their toes in.

Mild Winter on Gower 2016

It really is quite worrying. I recall Halloween 2008 when it was barely over 2 degrees for that last week in October and the Halloween night itself. Or there was the freezing winter of 2010 when it did not go over zero degrees on Christmas Day, and it wasn’t until March that we got temperatures even approaching 9 degrees. This winter we have only seen one frost and temperatures barely left double figures throughout December.

Storm Surf Langland Gower

By mid afternoon the word was out, GowerLive was posting some impressive video and surfers were coming down in droves. Langland was looking really busy with a full line up scrabbling for their go at the straight lines. A great afternoon and the 7km walk was just what was needed for Molly the French Bulldog who has been going stir crazy in this poor weather. With more storms forecast we will be continuing to keep up our StormWatch, watch this space, DimExcuses.

Mentro 3. Rhossili, Gower, 2nd May 2015

Dark & Offshore Rhossili

First bank holiday in May and where has the weather gone. In Gower the sea is 9.6C and the air is 11C. The swell is 6.5 foot but it is coming from a strange WSW direction resulting in 1 – 2 foot surf. There is also a 21mph unusual east wind.

I was in two minds to go surfing and get a Mentro 3 session for my #Mentro21 project to surf 21 times this year, when I saw pictures of the surf pumping on Instagram from the Welsh Surfing Championships in Freshwater West. It was enough to get me straight in the van and down Rhossili, Gower.

I was joined by my friend Gareth so I actually had some company for my third surf trip this year. We arrived at 2.30pm and the low tide had been on the way in for an hour. This what it looked like on the way in.

Rhossili Offshore Wind

It was 1 to 1.5 foot and that weird swell direction was pushing waves diagonally into the bay. That east wind was strong and offshore (regular readers will know I love an offshore wind). The swell and offshore wind were producing steep consistent lefts.

Glamorous Windy Changing

I was enjoying, being a goofy footer I prefer lefts as they are on my forehand (balls to wall, if you excuse the expression), until I lifted my board on a dismount and the wind launched it. That awful moment when you see a surfboard fly up in the air and know it is attached to your leg! I covered my face but took a big crack on the head. I have a nice graze and egg sized lump on my head to show for it. DimExcuses I surfed on with a bit of a headache. Here is how Rhossili looked when we came out an hour and a half later, dark and mean lines.

Dark Iines Rhossili

So 3 down 18 to go! You can follow the #Mentro21 project here, and I am planning my next trip, DimExcuses.

StormWatch Surf Bulldog, Caswell Bay, March 29th 2015

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It has been a pretty dark, wet and windy weekend, culminating in 50 to 60 mph winds today.  With my swaying fence looking like it won’t make it to April and the scafolding groaning on the roof, I decided ignorance is bliss and headed down to a dark Caswell Bay with Molly and Sharon.

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The Gower Live Website was saying Caswell had head to overhead surf, but with this wind it was a nasty mess. If you could get out through the punishing white water there was a head high face, but it was looking dark and mean.

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Several surfers were giving it a try, and fair play some serious waves were getting ridden. We on the other hand we staying with playing stick in the shallows.

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Two surfers decided to brave it with short boards. Molly ran down to give them some heavy swell pointers.

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Before focusing back on her stick.

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People tell you French bulldogs don’t swim, but Molly says different.

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And if she is not in the sea she is in the river.

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Looking majestic as always.

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This is one surf bulldog looking forward to the end of StormWatch and for a spring to emerge.

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One thing is sure, whatever the weather we will be down the Gower beaches, DimExcuses.

StormWatch Gower January 2015.

StormWatch Molly

So, we have had a few storms here in Gower, South Wales, but luckily we haven’t had the tides.  The storm surge conditions of big storms on very large tides that devastated the UK coast last year fortunately haven’t occurred.  yet I am still seeing a lot of sand movement and some quite substantial erosion at the top of the beaches.

Pobbles Winter Sand Levels

Molly and I now have a regular 5 km loop of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.  I have mentioned the route before in this link. It is my default exercise route for the little Frenchton (French Bulldog / Boston Terrier) on a Sunday when we are racing to make the most of the short Winter light.

DimExcuses Bulldog Molly

It always starts with a stunning view over the UK’s most photographed and painted view, Three Cliffs Bay.

Three Cliffs Valley

This time we were able to drop into the valley(it is tide dependent), and make our wave down to the cave through Three Cliffs itself to get to Pobbles Bay. The tide cuts the two bays off from each other so it is important to keep an eye on the tide,

Three Cliffs Valley

There has been quite a bit of high tide erosion as you enter Three Cliffs Bay, I can’t see the footpath above this collapse lasting another few storms.

Three Cliffs Erosion

Some quite big chunks of Gower hillside have come away.

Gower Erosion

There is definitely some retreat here in the face of Winter storms.

Storm Erosion

After getting our Storm Watch photos Molly and got through the cave and entered Pobbles Bay. Molly concentrated on her new obsession, playing stick…

Molly & Her Stick

…Before going on the lead so she couldn’t bother her other obsession, horses.

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We did a longer than usual walk climbing up to the Pennard Cliffs rather than our usual walk up to Pennard Golf Club. This allowed me to get some shots of Three Cliffs from an angle I don’t often photograph from.

Moody Three Cliffs

The sweeping beach was almost untouched.

Sweeping South Gower Bays

Three Cliffs are fantastic from any angle, especially in the light of a bruised Winter’s sky.

Rugged Three Cliffs

The view from Pennard Cliffs is of pure rugged beauty.

Pennard Cliffs View of Three Cliffs

All in all January hasn’t been too bad, the storms we have had haven’t coincided with high tides that caused so much damage last year. Molly and I have got out on the beach most weekends, you can see more photos on my @DimExcuses twitter, or you can get down there and see those views for yourself, DimExcuses.

The last of winter 2013/14.

Spot the surfer

So spring is here and yesterday we had a hint of better times to come. But today showed us winter may not quite finished with us yet! It has been the wettest winter, unseasonably mild, with massive tides and matching swells, all tied to bad weather that has brought storm surge conditions.

Langland after the storm

Well just as we try and wrestle free from winters grip, here are the pictures that somehow didn’t get posted over the last couple of months.

Swansea Bay

From a windswept Swansea Bay.

Molly Swansea Bay

To a Langland Bay robbed of sand by the winter storms.

Molly Langland

Molly the DimExcuses dog was definitely making the most of it, and making some friends.

Bulldog friends

Mind you so of those winter waves looked very tempting!

Winter Surf

Hinting at evening surf sessions to come.

Evening swells

And sunsets to follow.

Molly Sunset

So here is to spring! From Molly and me, DimExcuses.

Molly and Me

Gower Code Red. Storm Surge January 2014

Storm Rider

They are calling it a 50 year storm. Record high tides, combined with a massive swell and extremely bad weather pushed in by an overactive jet stream.  This almost perfect storm surge is the freaky side affect of our relatively mild winter temperatures. The weather men forecast it, the surf charts saw it coming and the relevant authorities issued weather warnings. So irresponsibly we took Molly the puppy out for a look at what this storm was going to do to Gower.

Molly & the Storm

Heading out last night, Langland was our first stop, and fair play it was awesome, but there is no lighting down there, which meant it was hazardous and we couldn’t get any photos.  Just one of Molly surveying the surf.

Caswell Surf Chaos

Limeslade was better lit and the waves were breaking over the road, but again the storm was making photography impossible.  Heading to Caswell Bay it was absolute chaos.  The sea was crossing the road and the storm foam was moving into the car park. After I got this very poor shot of the chaos it was time to head home and dry off.

Langland Surfer

Today (Saturday 04/01/14) the storm has passed for a while but more high tides are due. We headed down to Caswell to survey the impact of last nights storm. Just leaving the car park the damage and mess is clear.

Caswell after the storm

If it wasn’t driftwood across the road…

Driftwood across the road at Caswell

…it was boulders thrown up on the beach head.

Caswell Storm Damage

The poor old Surfside Cafe had been completely overwhelmed. Water had got in and churned the whole place up.

Surfside Cafe, Caswell

The damage to the shutters is clear and that then just let the waves in.  Let’s hope they get it fixed up soon without too much distress to the owners, Molly and I love their latte with a bacon bagel.

Surfside Cafe

The surf at Caswell was looking a complete mess, massive and dangerous.  Two surfers were in the water, but they were just getting a right royal pasting.

Surfboard Langland

We decided to head around to Langland Bay as it should be getting a better wave due to its more sheltered positioning on the Gower coast. The improvement in weather combined with the dropping tide produced some epic Langland surf and plenty of riders were in the water trying to make the most of the heavy conditions.  There was a good break between sets, but the set waves were massive.

Langland Storm

The reduction in wind was ensuring some clean faces…

Two riders Langland

…as long as you made the drop.

2014-01-04 11.29.21

Apparently these high tides are continuing until at least Monday, the swell doesn’t appear to be dropping much and more storms are on the way.  Anything could happen, watch this space and stay safe, DimExcuses.