Sun and Rain on the Gower   6 comments

Half term week and were originally planning our usual family trip to Cornwall. Then I had an e-mail from my long-time friend from Mark over at Beating the Bounds who asked if he and the family could come down and visit us that week. The plan was formed and they were heading down to visit us for the second half of the week and I’ll post up some stories of what we got up to in due course. This left us with a spare Bank Holiday weekend. We originally thought of camping but for a weekend I end spending a large chunk of it taking tents up and down. After a quick search I found a Travel Inn near the Gower that was doing Family Rooms with Breakfast for around £50 a night so I jumped and booked it so on the Friday night we headed off to the major global tourist hotspot that is Llanelli, our home for three nights.

The Gower is a lovely spot with some top-notch beaches. I’ve visited Rhossili Bay at Llangennith several times to surf with the Kayak but there is not much there for the kids so we plumped for Caswell Bay on the outskirts of Swansea. It’s a bit cheesy but it’s a lovely beach with a river to dam and rock pools to explore. The weather wasn’t as sunny as we’d hoped but it look like it would stay dry.

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Caswell Beach

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Caswell Beach

We had the usual fine day building sandcastles damming the river, looking for crabs and the like in the rock pools and generally messing about like all families do.

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The new sport of Croc surfing

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Exciteable children

Despite the lack of Atlantic weather there were some decent waves and after Jane and L had been body-boarding, I took the kayak out and had a pretty good time with some decent waves and I managed to surf the tide back in just in time to help Jane move our stuff back up the beach. The tide comes in quick here.

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Tide races in

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Looking east

The clouds were gathering so we headed back to the hotel for a clean-up and a meal and by the time we’d eaten ourselves fat the bad weather had arrived and it was chucking it down.

The next day was rank bad. Overcast, dreary and wet. We decided to head west in the hope it might brighten up. We arrived at the car park above Rhossili Bay with everything shrouded in low cloud and a persistent drizzle.

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Rhossili Bay

I managed to convince the kids a walk would be bracing and refreshing and whilst I’ve been out in worse it was pretty miserable. Still, the cliffs are sheer and the views, what we could see of them, superb.

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Worms Head

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Cliffs above Rhossili

D in particular had been very keen to see Worms Head, excited by the prospect of walking across the natural causeway between the mainland and the spit of land that forms the headland. It’s actually Britain’s first AONB designated in 1957. The name doesn’t refer to a worm but comes from the old English “Orm” meaning dragon or serpent. We checked the sign on the cliffs that showed we had plenty of time before the tide came back in and leaving Jane and L to return to the car me and D headed our over the causeway.

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D on the “causeway”

Apparently at low tide you can find lobsters lurking in the rock pools  but it wasn’t a day for tide-pooling so we carried on going. The “causeway” is pretty wide, several hundred metres between the calm waters on north side and the wild waves to the south. It’s a complex mass of rocks and pools and there is probably a plethora of interesting stuff under the seaweed. As we clambered up onto the headland we noticed dark shapes in the water which we thought were partially submerged rocks but on closer inspection were clearly seals.

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Seals

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More Seals

I think they are grey seals and there were 10-15 of them along the coast, looking like they were taking a rest from the wilder open coastline. We could get within 15 to 20 feet of them but in the wind, drizzle and poor light with the camera on zoom the photos weren’t as good as I’d hoped. We scrambled up the steep slopes to the top of the first eminence and from here you realise just what a long headland it is.

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On the summit of Worms Head

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Looking towards the far headland

It would be a good walk to the far end and whilst I was tempted, we were already soaked and D looked like he’d had enough. After another look at the seals we headed back to the car to join Jane and L in a long lunch in the car sheltering from the rain.

After lunch the weather brightened up just a little so I convinced everyone we could go out for a stroll on the beach. It’s quite a steep clamber down to the sand but when we got there the weather reached its peak for the day, cold and windy but dry at least. We headed over to some protruding wood in the sand which is in fact the wreck of the Helvetica, washed up in November 1887, luckily everyone survived.

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On Rhossili beach

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The wreck of the Helvetica

You can just about make out the shape of the hull and see the nails and metal straps that once held it all together. Amazing that the wood survives the twice-daily battering from the waves. We wandered across the beach to the cliffs where we saw remnants of other shipwrecks and hunted for interesting stuff in the rocks. The tide was coming in at a fair pace and the kids had a great time watching the water race along the line of the rocks filling in the pools as it went. However the rain started again and hit back with a vengeance as we headed back up to the car. By the time we reached it we were all cold and soaked but we’d made the best of poor day. It’s now you feel the benefit of returning to a nice warm hotel room for a hot shower and a nice meal in the Italian chain restaurant around the corner. It rained right through the evening so we hoped for a better performance from the weather, the following day.

We got our wish. The Monday was bright, clear and sunny. After the wind of the previous day I hoped for some decent waves so we headed for what we know and returned to Caswell Bay.

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Caswll Bay

Surprisingly the waves were not up to much so we just pottered again, filling the day with beach walks, sandcastles, tide-pooling and jumping in the waves.

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Ready for the foundations

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Bug-eyed monster

The weather threatened showers all day but they never arrived and by the time we started the usual evacuation of the beach the sun was beating down and it was fine end to the day as we watched the tide push everyone back and laughed at the several groups who had to wade back round the corner having been cut off by the rapidly advancing water.

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Jumping the waves

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Afternoon sun

Time to go home and prepare for the arrival of our friends from up north. We parked up on the seafront at The Mumbles and ate a hearty portion of fish and chips looking out over the bay to Swansea. It’s a real surprise to find the seafront all the way from Swansea down to the Mumbles is extremely pleasant and the view from where we ate our chips was superb.

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Chips on the prom

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Across Swansea Bay

A fitting finish to a fine weekend and even the wet Sunday had some real moments to remember.

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6 responses to “Sun and Rain on the Gower

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  1. What a great place, I really enjoyed my time there and the Gower offers fantastic walking. Looked like a great trip!

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    • The walks along the coast in the far SW corner look superb, pity we chose such a filthy day to go down there! Still really enjoyed it though and I can really recommend a wander out onto Worms Head – stunning.

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  2. Hawaii 5-0 in a wet suit!
    Those seals must have been a treat to see and nothing beats fish and chips outside on the sea front!
    Yet again another fantastic piece of music…

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  3. “Book ’em Danno” – now that’s showing my age. Wetsuit is not exactly a great look at my advancing years but boy was the water cold. When I was paddling with the kids it made my feet ache. Really great to see the seals and totally unexpected. The sea front at the Mumbles is really nice and it was great finish to the weekend
    Glad you enjoyed the tune, not really got into Elbow yet but I have loads of their stuff so I should give them another go. This tune fitted the photos and videos perfectly I thought

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  4. Another place to add to the list of places to visit, although I have a strong feeling I’ve been there before, with you I suspect. Or maybe its just the Dylan Thomas short stories about the area which I reread from time to time which make it seem familiar?
    Worms Head looks amazing. Any scope for a between-tides camp out there?
    I hope you’re beach fix went some way towards compensating for the loss of your Cornwall trip, though it may not have been the best week for camping!
    As ever, loved the slideshow. Very catchy tune that – I shall have it in my head all week.

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    beatingthebounds
    • I’ve been down there with Phil and GM before but not sure if you were there.You could indeed camp out on Worms Head if the tides were right. Didn’t really hang about to take a look as the weather was so nasty. I think you saved us from cack week of camping. I think we’d have had 3-4 full on wash out days. Getting a soaking and then returning to a tent is no fun :(. It was a blast having you all here and we love having visitors to stay.
      I’m pretty sure that the Beeb has used that tune as background music before. I had a short listen to Elbow when Neil first asked me to download it. Didn’t really get into it at first but this track (the only one I recognise) is pretty good and was just the right length.

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