In which Sarah returns to western Britain. This time to the Gower Peninsula – without a kayak but with two friends. Sort of like “The Famous Three in the South Wales Adventure.”
I’m very drawn to peninsulas. The magical combination of sky, sea and land. The ‘big sky’ effect of peninsula. The Gower is easily reached by train from Liverpool, change once at Crewe, arrive Swansea and local buses to Oxwich. I arrive in Swansea as the day is drawing to a close and take a taxi the rest of the way so I can enjoy the last light at my destination.
Oxwich Bay. It is a stunning beach, eerie in the half light.
I have arrived just as high tide has turned.
Oxwich Bay Hotel, the only hotel here. The hotel owns several cottages further up the lane – where I am staying – and some static caravans too. They also have a marquee in their grounds – just visible to the left in the photo – regularly being used for weddings.
I find out after my visit that Oxwich was once a busy port that shipped limestone from quarries on the headland. (Source: the AA) This seems hard to visualise, but now it is a popular beach for leisure activities – which do include kayaking. This weekend though I am not kayaking, I have come for walking and talking with my friend Gemma, and her dog Samson.
Gemma and Sammy have their first look at the beach in the morning, it’s now low tide.
And the sand is patterned.
The Gower Peninsula is just 19 miles long, with a coastal path of 38 miles in total. The two parts of the peninsula which will feature in my weekend are Oxwich Bay and Rhossili Bay, two huge sandy beaches.
We set off on our first morning round Oxwich Point, the headland at this end of Oxwich Bay. Passing the 14th century St Illtud’s church and graveyard, situated on the edge of the beach.
The path takes us through woodland and then opens out with sea views across the bay.
And continues round the headland.
My walking companion Gemma, and a dazzling blue sky.
We have several idle sits on this gorgeous cliff top walk. Reaching this point there is a path that will take us back across the headland. But it’s too perfect today, too lovely to head back so soon.
So we carry on along the coast path.
The view of Port Eynon opening up in front of us.
We come to a stony beach and set off to explore.
Full of rock pools and their watery delights.
And then it is time to turn up the path away from the coast. We are reluctant to leave this perfect blue day behind.
From the path, looking down at the beach.
Continuing our walk through lime stone outcrops and still a few flowers left in a sheltered hedge.
Arriving at Oxwich Green – two against nature, with a dog!
Oxwich Castle. Not really a ‘castle’ but a a 16th-century mansion house built by Sir Rhys Mansel on the site of the 14th-century castle. A folly.
Anyway it’s closed.
The next day is grey, silvery and perfectly still. We drive to Rhossili.
The magnificent beach here is three miles long, and has won lots of awards of the ‘best beach’ sort of nature. It is really beautiful.
And managed by The National Trust, which basically means the car park is expensive – although they do have toilets (which have been funded by European grants – just thought I’d point that out).
We are here to walk to Worm’s Head. The historic name is ‘wurm’ meaning ‘dragon’. And it does look at big like a sea-serpent rising out of the water.
The crossing is only possible either side of low tide.
I’d read that it would take about 15 minutes to scramble over the rocks to Worm’s Head.
So we set off, only to find this is actually a very difficult crossing, which takes us about 40 minutes.
Over rocks, mussels, many rock pools and different smooth and craggy rocks.
We make it across and don’t have enough time to get to the far end – that’s the ‘Outer Head’, so we sit here on ‘Inner Head’ and have a snack. You can see the ‘Devil’s Bridge’ from here.
Time to make the crossing back – you can see already the tide is coming in and the causeway is shrinking.
Past the ‘Inner Head’.
And what has Gemma found?
We cross back to safety on the other side.
And the Coastguard has helpfully updated the board.
We walk on, continuing on the cliff path.
Across limestone cliffs.
This is Fall Bay.
The day is slipping away now, and we leave the cliffs and make our way back to the village of Rhossili for chips.
Our last morning arrives… and time for a final visit to ‘our’ beach at Oxwich Bay.
The Gower did not disappoint and I’ll be back, maybe kayaking next time.
Sarah and Gemma stayed at the cottages owned by the Oxwich Bay Hotel – their winter offer is a very good rate for two nights and get the third night free, and includes breakfast and evening meal. Good value! Oxwich Bay Hotel.