Darth Mannion 2017. Gallery 2.

This is the second 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.

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.

 

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.

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.

Windy Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles at Low Tide.

Windy Three Cliifs, Gower

This June isn’t bringing summer to us just yet. Though better than last weekend, it is still cool and windy on Gower. Undeterred Molly and I set out for our usual loop of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.

Adventures of Molly at Three Cliffs

What was different today was that it was a very low tide and we were there right on the turn.  Which meant that we could drop into the valley and walk along the river.

Three Cliffs Valley

More importantly it meant we could get through the cave in Three Cliffs to enter Pobbles Bay.

Molly in the Seaweed

The low tide let us get right out to under the Shirecoombe headland, where Molly got to explore the seaweed. We are off all week so hopefully we will do some more DimExcuses Beach Guides and maybe add some surfs to our #Mentro21 Project. So keep an eye out, DimExcuses.

Bad Days Make Good Photos. Three Cliffs & Pobbles, May 2015.

Sand Dune Molly

It has been miserable end to May, apparently caused by El Nino. Today was no exception, with a wet morning and a gusting hard onshore wind ensuring no one in wild west Wales was going to have a good day surfing.

Three Cliffs Bulldog

So Molly and I headed out to Gower for our usual loop of Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay.

Molly Three Cliffs

There was quite a swell coming in and that wind was whipping it up, making the Gower coast look wild and rugged.

Wild & Rugged Pobbles Bay

These pink flowers were bravely blooming on the cliff edge contrasting with the barren limestone. Just like the primeroses in April, the bulbells are now starting to wilt away, leaving these pink blooms to take the spotlight.

Pink Coast Flowers, Pobbles, Gower.

Molly was less interested in the flowers or surf, finding some smells to investigate. It was a case of talk to the bum because the face ain’t listening.

Speak to the bum, because the face ain't listening.

She was all over the cliffs like a mountain goat, surveying the incoming tide swelling Three Cliffs river and filling the valley.

High Tide Three Cliffs, Gower

It wasn’t long until this French Bulldog was distracted by a stick though.

Three Cliffs Stick

Some nice photos but it wasn’t as nice as it looked. That gusty wind was cold and annoying. My hat blew off twice. But you have to make the most of a bad day and get out and about, DimExcuses.

 

 

My Wild Life. Any Given Sunday, Bulldog on the Beach.

Molly is the Queen of Three Cliffs

This post is mostly French Bulldog photos, some of the best I have taken of my dog Molly.  In honor of the current ‘My Wild Life‘ campaign that wants to show what wildlife and wild places mean to us all, I just wanted to show our wild life enjoying the Gower beaches all year, in all weathers.

It is all about the sticks

In not uncommon DimExcuses style, all these photos are taken at Three Cliffs Bay and Pobbles Bay on a 5 km walk route Molly and I often use.

Molly Cave Explorer

A photographer once told me that the hardest thing to photograph is a black dog. He wasn’t wrong. So it was great that we finally got some strong sun to bring out the contrast and shadows that show Molly’s features which the camera usually struggles to pick up.

French Bulldog Face

Molly was happy to model in the sunshine.

French Bulldog Molly

The tide was out this Sunday, so Molly had a great expanse to play stick…

Playing Stick

…or just get her roll on!

Molly Roll

Three Cliffs Bay is amazing on any day, but the real first sun of 2015 really made it a great walk.

Three Cliffs Sun

But mainly at the moment it is all about the sticks for Molly…

Molly at Three Cliffs

…with a few rolls in between (there is a pattern forming here).

Frenchton Roll

A ball does break the cycle a little.

Frenchton and Ball

So that is My Wild Life, making the most of the Gower beaches the wild Frenchton.

Wild Frenchton

Sometimes we see cormorants, sometimes we see seals and we always see seagulls, Molly is working on her stalk to catch one (hopefully she will never achieve that), but for the moment it is all about the sticks.

Talk to the bum cause the face ain't listening

So why not tell us about your Wild Life? Just use #MyWildLife on social media, DimExcuses.