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.

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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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The colours are so vivid and varied.
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Molly the French Bulldog couldn’t believe all the colours, smells and textures all around her.

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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.

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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.

 

A well worn path. The DimExcuses Big Gower Walk 2014.

DimExcuses Big Gower Walk 2014

Wow! Christmas is days away and what a busy Autumn it has been. The water has remained warm enough to surf right into November. It seems long ago, back in September that 17 of us headed off on our annual DimExcuses Big Gower Walk, that we do to signify the end of summer. You can see last years’ DimExcuses Big Gower Walk 2013 here.

Big Gower Walkers

As usual we all met up on the first Gower bus of the day and headed for Rhossili.  We stepped out in the fresh morning air, past this carcass (possibility a walker from previous years who didn’t make it).

Past the bones

It is a forced march from Rhosilli Bay to Fall Bay and Mewslade, taking in the breath-taking limestone cliffs before getting to Port Eynon for a well earned breakfast. We even told the cafe we were coming this year (well done Amanda)!

DimExcuses Breakfast

From Port Eynon we then took the Gower part of the All Wales Coastal Path around the coast to Oxwich Bay and a swift pint in the hotel.

Oxwich Bay Pint

After we de-fib-ed anyone who bought a round and had a coronary at the eye watering bar prices we set off across the sand of Oxwich Bay beach in a race to get around Little Tor before the tide cut us off.

Oxwich Bay

After successfully negotiating Little Tor, we were not as lucky with Great Tor which was now covered by the rising tide. This forced us (like in previous years) up and over the Tor and down into the legendary Three Cliffs Bay.

Great Tor

Three Cliffs Bay looked fantastic on what was now nearly a full high tide.

Three Cliffs Bay, Big Gower Walk

Up and over the sand dunes again then, to come down in Pobbles Bay and make the climb out of the valley towards the Southgate Club for more ‘refreshments’.

Keith!

The last leg of the DimExcuses Big Gower Walk takes us across Pennard Cliffs and down into the picturesque Pwll Du Bay, before the final push to the Joiners Arms in Bishopston.

Joiners Arms, Bishopston, Gower

Here is a gallery of the full 19 miles from Rhossili to Bishopston. Click on an image to start the slideshow.

Another year, another Big Gower Walk done, you should come next year, DimExcuses!

Sandbanks, Dorset, DimExcuses Beach Guide.

Sunny Sandbanks

It is that end of summer time of year, and time to do a little UK travel.  So Molly, Sharon and I got packing ready to leave Wild West Wales for some South of England adventures, culminating in surfing Bude, Cornwall in an epic swell, but first stopping off in Sandbanks, Dorset for a DimExcuses Beach Guide. Some were more helpful with the packing than others.

Molly Packing

Leaving Wales it was very evident that Newport is the venue of the NATO Conference this week.  Preparations include this very serious security fence on the M4. I think they have borrowed it from Jurassic Park.

NATO Fence Newport

Sandbanks is a peninsular on the Bournemouth side of Poole harbor. It ends at a chain ferry that ferries cars back and forth from Swanage.  Known as ‘Millionaires Row’ it is famous for its expensive properties and famous residents. As you drive into the peninsular you have all these fantastic properties on your left and the massive expanse of Poole harbor to your right. This part of the harbor is consistently deep throughout getting not much deeper than chest deep at high tide, making it perfect for kite boarding.

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Sandbanks beach itself runs the whole length of the other side of the peninsular. Faced with the threat of erosion, the beach is divided into small beach coves separated by rock boulder groynes. This gives the beach a fantastic character.

Sandbanks Groynes

Most of these photos were taken early in the morning when I was taking Molly for her first walk. This means there was no one about and the light and sky were fantastic.

Sandbanks Morning Light

The life guard hut gives Molly a real Baywatch moment in the next picture.

Sandbanks Baywatch Molly

Sandbanks has a legion of beach cleaners and litter-pickers making sure the beach looks pristine when the premiership residents get up. Mechanical sand raking is also still undertaken on this beach, giving Molly a early morning blank canvas.

Sandbanks Raked Blank Canvas

The beach is very popular with dog walkers, swimmers, kite flyers and fishermen. There is a gallery of further images below. It is a very glamorous beach, so if you fancy a sunny moment, enjoying the sand on Millionaires Row get down there, DimExcuses.

Gower Winter (Bulldog) Walks – Pwll Du February 2014

Pwll Du Winter Waves

Rain, wind, storms, super swells and high tides, Gower has had it all this winter.  Yet there are no excuses not to get out and about, especially as the the days are getting longer and the weather is improving.  Therefore Molly (the french bulldog cross) and I decided to walk down one South Gower’s wilder beaches Pwll Du.

Pwll Du Winter Waves

It was a bit of a muddy walk before we got onto the rocky road down to the beach. The recent daisy chain of storm after storm has produced some powerful swells and robbed the bays of much of their sand.  Pwll Du today was no exception.  Even Molly had to have a peak over the path to see what was making all that noise as the waves pumped in and crashed on the pebbles.

Pwll Du Molly

So we quickly headed down the path to investigate further.

Molly Surf Dog

Pwll Du is a much steeper bay than most South Gower beaches and is known for its imposing pebble storm beach that is much larger than it should be due to limestone quarrying in the past.

Storm Beach Molly

It also has a sandy beach in summer, but the winter storms have removed much of that for the moment.

Pwll Du

There is a powerful river that runs down Bishopston Valley and blasts its way out of the pebble storm beach.  But seeing as storm beaches are made by storms, there is a much more formidable pebble wall at the top of the beach than normal, and the river is struggling to get through, much to Molly’s interest.

Molly looking at Pwll Du River

But it won’t be long before nature allows this river to re-establish itself on its way to the sea.  It is already starting to make a good effort to do so.

Pwll Du River

Large amounts of pebbles were falling out of the rivers way even in the short time that Molly and I looked on.

Molly on the pebbles.

We took one last look at the bay before making the climb back to Bishopston.

Pwll Du

As Molly demonstrates there are some quite unforgiving steps on the climb out of Pwll Du Bay.

Molly Climbing

We certainly made the most of a rather grey February day, make sure you make the most of yours too, DimExcuses.

Puppy Molly at Pobbles Bay November 2013

Molly

My last two blog entries have been well received.  The first was about our new French bulldog puppy Molly and the second was the fantastic Pobbles Bay Gower, in all its autumn glory.  So I thought why not combine the two.  Puppy meet Pobbles, Pobbles meet Puppy.

Three Cliffs Bay

With the tide going out it was a great opportunity for Molly to run on the beach.  Molly also brought her friend Eddie.  Here is a puppy’s eye view of the sea and Eddie.

Molly looks out

Molly certainly likes the beach.

Molly

And Pobbles is great Gower beach with fantastic views across Three Cliffs Bay. Eddie was braving the sea, but Molly wasn’t going that far.

Fun in the sea

We pretty much had the whole bay to ourselves with the majestic Three Cliffs themselves in the background.

Three Cliffs

There was a moody little autumn wave in the bay too.

Three Cliffs Bay

A great day, followed by Sunday Lunch in the Valley Pub, Bishopston. What a good way to end November, lots more of Molly exploring Gower in December and 2014. DimExcuses.

Gower Spring Walks 2. Three Cliffs Valley, Bay and Pobbles Bay May 2013.

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already posted a walk similar to this in my Gower winter walks: Gower Winter Walks 2. Pennard Castle and Three Cliffs Bay Circular Route. I GPS tracked that trail with Everytrail and you can see that map here.  This time I took a slightly different route dropping into the valley and then climbing over Three Cliffs as the tide cut me off before I could get through the cave. This time I tried tracking my walk with Strava Run. I am trying the Strava android application because it keeps a running total of my walking allowing me to compare what I am doing each week and month. You need to sneakily tell the app that you are running as it won’t add walks to your on-going results. I am also trying this app for GPS tracking my mountain bike rides.

I went very wide around the golf course towards the Sandy Lane chalet settlement. If you haven’t been here before aim for the large water tower and be careful passing the golf course. There are white stones to follow but these can be hard to see.

Pennard Castle View

Once you are by the water tower head towards Pennard Castle. The view is magnificent. At this point I chose to go down into the valley by following the very steep and very sandy path. This is not the route for anyone with mobility issues, instead follow the boardwalk as outlined in my winter walk.

Three Cliffs Bay

You should also check the tide because the valley floods at high tide and before that the tide can cut off the cave through to Pobbles Bay. I didn’t get this right, so I had to climb up to Three Cliffs and go over the top. There is a path to do this but it is hard to find. It is in a gully in the cliff and is definitely one for the more agile walker.

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This did allow me to get some great photos of Three Cliffs Bay before moving around into Pobbles. These two bays really are Jewels of Gower and highlights of the coast in Wales. The sea is still quite cold from our unseasonal spring, 8 degrees and this was the Sunday of the first may Bank Holiday! But that didn’t stop Sadie the spaniel going for a dip.

Pobbles

 

Pobbles Bay funnels to a narrow storm beach and there is one central path back to Pennard Golf Club where it is a short road walk back to the start. This is definitely one of my favourite DimExcuses Gower walks.

 

Gower Spring Walks 1. Pwll Du Bay & Brandy Cove March 2013.

Pwll Du & Brandy Cove

Sorry for taking so long to blog, it is hard keeping up with this thing.  Spring is upon us in Gower.  I am an equinox seasons person, so spring in my opinion started on March 21st.  Which is a good thing, seeing as we have had an unseasonably cold March?  Finally on the Easter weekend we had some nice weather.  So I took the opportunity to walk down one of the best beaches in Gower and also one of the best kept secrets, Pwll Du.

Parking in Bishopston, South Gower here is a GPX map of the route I took.

Pwll Du Bay Walk, Easter Sunday

EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Heading from Bishopston I took Pwll Du Lane to Pwll Du head.  Pwll Du is Blackpool in Welsh by the way.  Once at Pwll Du head I took the rocky road into the bay itself.  This is a very rough road and probably not one for wheelchairs or pushchairs.  Bear in mind though that both picturesque white houses in the bay need to bring all their furniture and shopping in on this road.  As soon as you get to the first real bend in the track you find yourself at a vantage point to take in the whole bay.

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It is an incredible view (probably one of the best in Gower) and the bay is quite unique due to its oversized pebble storm beach.  This is a relic from when the bay was used as a quarry and the storm beach is well over twice the size it should be naturally.

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From this view point we followed the road down into and then behind the bay before stopping at the ford across the river.  There is no need to walk across this ford, if you follow the path there is a bridge over the river further on.

Pwll Du Ford

Once across the bridge, the path passes between the two white cottages in the middle of the bay.  This path leads to the furthest west corner of the pebble storm beach and allows you to get on the beach itself.

Pwll Du Beach

It is best to walk across the beach and cross the river in the east corner of the bay.  The way the river passes through the pebble storm beach varies with the seasons and the tide and sometimes can be a challenge to cross.  Once across the river there is a bit of a scramble over the rocks to get back to the cliff path.  You are then presented with the choice of walking a path back up to Pwll Du Head or walking the cliff path around to the next bay, Brandy Cove.  I chose the Brandy Cove route which was lined with a spring blossom of primroses.  From Brandy Cove there is a path back up to where I had parked in Bishopston.

Brandy Cove Primrose

That completes my first Gower Spring Walk.  With spring brightening up I will be doing more walks, and with summer on the way you have dimexcuses to get out walking on Gower too!

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Shw mae

Welcome to my blog.  I am currently working in rural development and one of my many ?hats? is helping community groups publicise their activities and develop a web presence.  To do this I need to learn a lot more about WordPress and blogging.  I guess that the best way to learn is by doing.  Therefore this blog is a training tool for me to learn, and hopefully if it goes OK it will be a showcase for how community groups can develop their own sites.

So what is in it for you the reader?  Well I hope to publish some interesting content.  Firstly some local guides to beaches, forests, valleys and mountains of South and West Wales.  I also hope to advertise events going on so you can get involved and enjoy the Welsh outdoors.

I hope to promote walking, by putting some of my personal favourite walks on here complete with GPS files you can follow.  My speciality is the Gower where I grew up.  And all this will lead up to the Bridgend Love2Walk Festival with has its own blog at www.love2walkwales.wordpress.com

I will touch on running and be at my usual spot at Blackpill for Swansea Bay 10k photographing the runners.  I shall also be submitting content on surfing and mountain-biking (MTB) in South Wales.  Finally I won?t be doing that in silence so I also will be blogging on music, local bands and highlighting any gigs that are going on in the area.

Thanks for reading.