We had a plan. It was a good plan. Walk around Gower in three days following the Gower Coastal Path in the main. Where possible we would walk the beaches at Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay, Rhosilli Bay and Broughton Bay. I had particularly chosen this week as the low tides were favourable although I feel I must accuse them of ignoring the Tidal Charts that I referenced. The timings were often not quite right.
If you have been following my Gower Walk posts, you will know that from day one we struggled to stay together with the plan. On day three we departed from it completely.
We had been warned in a dream not to follow the Broughton Bay to Llanrhidian section of the path as it was very wet and dangerous. At least I think it was a dream. Maybe it was an angel. No! I remember it was another walker going the other way. The same one we met struggling her way across Mewslade Bay on Day Two.
We earnestly warned her about Pwlldu Head and in return she told us how bad our journey ahead would be. With deep regret we heeded her warning and walked the road route from Llangenith to Llanrhidian.
A Little Bit Boring
The road from the Kings Head in Llangenith to Welcome to Town in Llanrhidian has few landmarks of distinction. We satisfied ourselves with the noisy but rather beautiful black sheep in the fields and the occasional glimpse of the Loughor Estuary a mile to the north. Who knew how many vehicles use that road? It was very busy and a total contrast to the first two days.
We almost dreamt of a muddy puddle or a difficult rocky climb as we consumed the fumes and avoided being run over.
The Llanrhidian Marsh Road
It was nevertheless a sensible decision, reluctantly taken, to avoid the coastal path for this section. ‘Welcome to Town’ in Llanrhidian was not open for a coffee as we arrived there in only an hour and twenty minutes.
“The Crofty Inn!” we exclaimed to each other and eagerly set out from Llanrhidian for Crofty.
This is a walk we have done around 40 times since we arrived in Penclawdd last June (2017). We regularly take the 116 bus to Llanrhidian and then walk the five miles home. It’s a simple and rewarding way to end the day. We know the marsh road intimately.
We have over the months shepherded flocks of sheep from grazing on the road a number of times. We are talking thousands of Salt Marsh Sheep. We try not to think about the fact that we frequently order ‘Salt Marsh Lamb’ from the butchers. That must be these very same sheep.
Then there are the marsh ponies and horses. They are always there, mainly gathering around the children’s play area in Crofty.
As well as the sheep and the other wildlife there are many birds and gulls on the marshes. We are still learning what bird is what, but we can still appreciate the diversity of wildlife here in Gower even if we don’t know what it is.
We arrived in Crofty to discover that The Crofty Inn was also closed! We were walking too fast for the local pubs to be open. You must understand that we are ‘Ex-Townies’ who are still getting used to the variable hours that pubs and restaurants choose to open in this part of the country.
In the towns around London everything is done with precision and accuracy as regards opening times. Most pubs where we moved from last year, open for breakfast and then drag it out for morning coffee until the real drinkers arrive around 12.00.
Needing A Break
By the time we arrived in Penclawdd we were in need of a public convenience having worked our way through two bottles of water and `walked 9 miles. Penclawdd Health Centre came to our rescue, and as I ordered a necessary repeat prescription (A brilliant but true cover story for us to make use of the facilities) Karen dashed to the Ladies and I went to the Gents, safe in the knowledge that I would be the one waiting for my nearest and dearest to complete her visit rather than the other way around…
And so to Penclawdd. And so to the marshes. We have grown to love these marshes with their strange tidal flows and secret pathways. We see dog walkers meandering around them right out to the edge of the river and yet cannot fathom how they get there. We have much to learn. These marshes have become ‘our’ marshes as far as we are concerned although we are happy to let others enjoy them.
On Reflection – Lessons Learned From Our Gower Walk
1. Taking photographs slows down the pace of our walking
2. Using a camera saves time over using a mobile phone and gives you better pictures.
3. Even the best laid plans need to be flexible. We did not take into account how wet the months of February and March have been this year.
4. Having all weather footwear and waterproof clothing is a must.
5. 40 miles in three days is a long way for two people in their sixties.
6. Being modest and humble about this achievement is very difficult. After day one we lost our reticence and reserve completely and basically told anyone who would talk to us what we were doing. We almost forced ourselves upon them.
And I am not even ashamed about it. Hey you out there! We are a couple of over 60’s who have just walked around Gower. You need to know this! Humility and modesty have never been strong points of mine.
7. As I write this three days after completion we are still recovering. Karen had no blisters and I only had one for the last mile on Day Three. That is the beauty of training and preparation. By Monday we will be fully functional again I’m sure.
8. Having snacks in the rucksack is important. So is water to drink.
9. We will probably never do this again. Not because we couldn’t but because there was little time to enjoy the detail of each location. There are many places we will return to for a day just to enjoy them. Top of the list, Overton Bay.
10. We will repeat Day Three but using the coastal path as we originally intended, in August or September, when it should be more navigable. With a warm summer it will have dried out. This will add about 5 miles to the Day Three total.
Statistics – Supplied from my Mapmyrun account. They don’t seem to quite add up, but this is what it says, and computer data is always right as you well know.
Day One – 14 miles – Steps 34810 – Average Pace 25 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 5 hours 50 minutes
Day Two – 16 miles – Steps 44449 – Average Pace 29 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 7 hours 51 minutes
Day Three – 10 miles – Steps 21299 – Average Pace 20 minutes – Actual Walk Duration 3 hours 16 minutes
Fastest Mile Time 18.46
Slowest Mile Time 40.00
We have completed another of our ‘bucket list’ items although not quite as fully as we had hoped. But that is all part of the adventure. We could have simply not bothered to plan it or do it in the first place, and we would have been the poorer for it.
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