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.

Advertisements

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.

A New Tradition, The DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk, December 2015.

Pwll Du, DimExcuses Christmas Walk

Happy new year! This is my forth year of blogging and sharing my enthusiasm for getting out and about in Wales and further a field.

Rotherslade Bay

Our DimExcuses Big Gower Walk in September is now a strong tradition, you can read about this year’s walk here. But I felt that we needed something similar for the winter holidays. Yet that brings challenges in terms of shorter days, wetter and colder weather. Challenges that Molly and Darren were happy to take on as we headed to our first Gower beach, Pwll Du.

Spot the Bulldog, Pwll Du

We chose the Monday Bank Holiday (28/12/15), and started where we finish the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk at the Joiners Arms in Bishopston, Gower. From there it is a short walk to Pwll Du Bay. Setting off at 2 pm we had about two and a half hours of light before the winter sun set.

The Usual DimExcuses Suspects, Pwll Du to Brandy Cove

The weather has been so wet lately that we had all got new waterproofs and planned for the worst. On the bright side this winter has been very mild. Very, very mild and very wet, from a climate change point of view it is extremely concerning. So far this winter we have had only one frost. From a DimExcuses walkers point of view at least it wasn’t going to be cold.

Darren & Paul, DimExcuses Christmas Walk

Miraculously the rain held off for the whole walk, but it was windy! A strong wind blowing the Christmas cobwebs away. Wind in our faces we went from Pwll Du, around to Brandy Cove.

Brandy Cove

From Brandy Cove we continued on the Wales Coast Path to Caswell Bay. At Caswell Bay it was clear that the recent winter storms had taken their toll with bricks from the sea front strewn across the beach entrance.

StormWatch Caswell

Caswell allowed us a quick comfort break, before we pressed on against the setting sun towards Langland and Rotherslade Bay.

Langland Bay DimExcuses

From Langland and Rotherslade there was just one last home stretch of the Wales Coastal Path to walk around to Limeslade and Bracelet Bay.

Rotherslade Bay DimExcuses

The light was now fading and we were relying on street lights as we finished the walk in the village of Mumbles. It was then just a case of finding a (bull) dog friendly pub and having a real ale and tall stories with friends old and new. The Park was happy to accommodate us and even lit the fireplace to warm up us weary walkers.

Laughs by the Pub Fire

A great success and now a new tradition, we will be undertaking the DimExcuses Christmas Coastal Walk again next year. You should come, 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.

Pwll Du Bay, Gower. DimExcuses Beach Guide

Pwll Du

This secret South Gower beach is a locals’ favorite. In a picturesque secluded cove the beach is dominated by its huge storm beach of limestone pebbles. There have been many Pwll Du Posts on this blog.

DSCN1381

Pwll Du Bay is quite difficult to find and walk to. It does not have good access and isn’t suitable for wheelchairs or children’s buggies, yet the people who live in the white cottages still get down there in their land-rovers. It is great for a family day out, but take what you need as there are no facilities of any kind.

Molly Climbing

Nestled along the All Wales Coastal Path, Pwll Du can be found between Brandy Cove and Hunts Bay, when travelling west from Caswell, Langland and Mumbles.

Pwll Du Molly

It can be accessed from East Cliff in Pennard and through Bishopston Valley via Pennard Church or the ford under St. Teilo’s church in Kittle. All those routes are difficult to follow and long, with the potential for getting lost. The best way to get there is to park off Pyle Corner in Bishopston (Grid Ref: SS580882). This is a residential area, so please park respectfully (Postcode SA3 3HA). There is also a bus from the Quadrant in Swansea to Pennard that stops in Bishopston.

Darth Mannion Pwll Du

There is a good twenty minute walk down Pwll Du Lane to get to Pwll Du Head. Do not try and drive down there, it is a dead end with no parking and barely any turning.

Brandy Cove to Caswell Bay

There is a great view from Pwll Du Head over both Pwll Du and Brandy Cove. There is then a rocky lane down to the beach.

Pwll Du Ford

The beach itself can be accessed by crossing the ford or taking the bridge and entering the beach between the two houses.  The river they cross is the bravest river run in the Darth Mannion Beach & River Challenge.

River Run

As well as being a river run, Pwll Du is also perfect for sensible running or a proper good old fashioned Gower walk.  It is a haven for boats in the summer, and people stay the afternoon on the sand after coming in from boats moored in the bay.

Pwll Du Beach

It is very sheltered and a real suntrap on a sunny day. A real gem hidden on the South Gower coast. A definite essential Gower visit next time the sun is out, 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.

Clyne in Bloom, May 2015. #MyGreenSpace

image

Yesterday saw the start of the #MyGreenSpace campaign to encourage people to discover great outdoor places. So today Molly and I thought we would help you discover a world class green space, Clyne Gardens in Swansea.

image

This is the best time to see the gardens in their full glory, Clyne in Bloom. The #MyGreenSpace campaign is based in Bridgend County Borough and uses their Natural Neighbourhoods website to help you discover green spaces and things to do outdoors. But there is no reason people outside Bridgend (like Molly and I in Swansea) can’t get involved and discover great green spaces and share them using #MyGreenSpace. Just like I am doing here with Clyne in Bloom. Last week I discovered white bluebells and today I was pleased to find there is no shortage of them in Clyne (below) or in their traditional blue (above).

image

At the moment Clyne Gardens has spectacular flowering bushes contrasted by wild species in equal bloom like this wild garlic. The aroma is incredible too.

image
The colours are so vivid and varied.
image

Molly the French Bulldog couldn’t believe all the colours, smells and textures all around her.

image

Molly and I visited Clyne in Bloom last year and we especially like the giant rhubarb like Gunnera plants. We visited Clyne in the middle of winter and saw the Gunnera wilted away and rotted down, but I am glad to say our favorite giant rhubarb was back in full bloom in my green space.

image

I know it is not related to Rhubarb by the way.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera

Just don’t tell Molly, who was keeping it calm and keeping casual under the giant rhubarb.

#MyGreenSpace Molly and the Giant Rhubarb

It is quite a magnificent plant.

#MyGreenSpace Gunnera Clyne

Molly was more interested in the flowers.

#MyGreenSpace Molly

And what a range of flowers you can see at Clyne in Bloom.

#MyGreenSpace Clyne Flowers

What better way to get involved with the #MyGreenSpace campaign than discovering the great green space of Clyne Gardens, Swansea? Why not get out and photograph your favorite green spaces and tag them #MyGreenSpace for someone else to discover on social media? Get involved, DimExcuses.

 

Pobbles Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

image

Pobbles Bay is one of Gower’s lesser known beaches, but has a very fond following from locals and visitors. It is the home beach of Pennard Village and it is an important part of the village activities.

image

It is a South Gower beach that is immediately east of Three Cliffs Bay. The two beaches form one massive expanse of sand as the tides fall and can form a great big super beach with Tor Bay and Oxwich in the west on a particularly low tide. That can make for an epic walk from Oxwich Bay to Pobbles and is a major section of the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk.

image

Pobbles can accessed from Pennard Cliffs if you park at the National Trust car park in Southgate. It can also be accessed by a small path running down from Pennard Golf Club, but then there is the issue of no parking. Pobbles can be accessed by clambering over the rocks through the cave in Three Cliffs itself but that takes a little dexterity. Even rock scrambler Molly needs some help through.

image

All routes to Pobbles require walking over uneven terrain and would be difficult for a push chair or wheel chair.

image

Pobbles Bay is a rugged Gower bay with no facilities at all, but once loaded up with supplies it is a perfect family summer day out.

image

It is surrounded by limestone cliffs and limestone is pretty much the only rock type in the Bay, apart from the odd mudstone layer. There is a substantial storm beach at the top of the beach. This is made up of again mainly limestone pebbles, but you can find local Old Red Sandstone and Millstone Grit with a bit of rock hound hunting.

image

There are a wealth of rockpools and a rockpool safari will find velvet swimming crabs, hermit crabs, goby fish, shrimps and even sea mice if you are very lucky.

image

Further down the beach are rock gullies covered in seaweed. These form a sort of reef to the west of the bay under a very imposing cliff headland called Shirecoombe. The very impressive last house on the walk down from the golf club is also called Shirecoombe. Molly is standing in front of Shirecoombe headland in this photo.

image

As well as the rock pools Pobbles Bay has plenty of yellow Gower sand for building sandcastles or more elaborate sand sculptures. If the tide is right you can build a sand boat to face the incoming tide, reinforcing the walls with frantic digging as the water levels rise. You won’t win.

image

Pobbles is often calm and ideal for sea swimming. As as always respect the sea, know your limits and be aware that the water will be pretty cold even in summer. Swimming out past Three Cliffs when the tide is in is not recommended as the river still runs under the water and will quickly take you out to sea. It can be a beach for surfing if conditions are right, but that is another story.

image

As my home beach growing up I am very fond of Pobbles Bay. I walk the dog there regularly (there are no restrictions all year) and still spend the odd sunny day there in the Summer. It is a great beach and will keep the whole family amused for the day, so pack a rucksack and discover it yourself, DimExcuses.

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Three Cliffs Bay

Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty, and the most painted and photographed view in the UK are two claims to fame for one of Gower’s most dramatic beaches, Three Cliffs Bay.

Three Cliffs

This is favorite beach to visit when walking my dog Molly. You can see our favorite walk to it here, it is a great circuit. Otherwise it can be accessed from the west at Penmaen and Parkmill Villages, or from the east from Pennard and Southgate Villages. It is difficult to park and the National Trust car park might be the best bet or you could try this variation on my usual route. Getting there is going to involve some walking over uneven terrain, this isn’t the best beach visit for the less able or people with wheelchairs or pushchairs.

DSCN1171

The limestone geology of the bay is striking and three cliffs of limestone hooking into the east of the bay give it its name.  There is a cave through Three Cliffs to Pobbles Bay, but this is only accessible at certain times of the tide.

DSCN2505

But sometimes it is better when the tide is in.

Molly & Sharon Three Cliffs Bay

It is the interaction of the tide (the second largest tide in the world) and Three Cliffs themselves that makes the icon view that is so painted and photographed. There is website where you can post your Three Cliffs photos – 3cliffsbay.co.uk.

Three Cliffs Bay

It is my favorite beach for walking Molly in winter, and it is an incredible place if you are looking for somewhere to do a cross country run. You will find lots of sections on strava where the regular runners have set personal bests. It is also just a great beach for summer water sports. Be careful of the Three Cliffs bit at high tide, the river is still there and can pull you out to sea even though you can’t see it.

Pobbles

Enough beach you say, where is Molly…

Three Cliffs Molly

…here she is and she says get down South Gower and discover Three Cliffs Bay, DimExcuses.

The Sunniest Day of 2015 so far, Sunday February 8th.

Molly in the Three Cliffs Sun

After a mild start to winter, it has been cold. The end of January and the start of February has been a prolonged cold period with temperatures not tending to reach double figures in the day.

Three Cliffs Valley

But this Sunday we had a glimpse of spring sun to come. A beautiful crisp day without a cloud in the sky. Molly the Frenchton and I took our usual circular walk to Three Cliffs and Pobbles that takes in Three Cliffs Valley from Pennard Castle.

Pennard Castle

Molly loves this walk, especially the sandy paths along the river.

Little Bulldog

Three Cliffs river is called the River Ilston and it has some textbook meanders along the bottom of the valley.

River Ilston

Looking back at this meandering river you can see Pennard Castle on the hill edge looking down on the valley.

Pennard Castle overlooking Ilston River

Three Cliffs was looking majestic in the sun…

Three Cliffs

…as was Molly, showing her French Bulldog and Boston Terrier roots.

Beach Bulldog

Am I the only one who thinks looking at Three Cliffs from Pobbles it looks like a lying dragon? From left to right the cliffs themselves are like crocodile nostrils going into a long nose and a head and eyes in the headland and the shoulders being the hill up from Pobbles to Pennard Cliffs?

Three Cliffs Dragon

Molly wasn’t up for much debate on the subject, preferring to focus on her ball in the sand.

French Bulldog and Ball

Eventually she got tired out and had to lie down in the sand she had churned up.

Tired Bulldog

It is still cold, but what a relief to see a hint of spring to come. Definitely the sunniest day this year, and what a day to get down the beach, DimExcuses.