May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Gower Peninsular

The sun was shining behind a heavy haze which covered the whole of the Gower Peninsular when I was there.
I headed for the village of Mumbles where party people on a Saturday night used to gather, and stagger, down the Mumbles Mile having a drink in all of the (20+) bars and pubs between the White Rose Pub at one end and the pier at the other. Now, I understand, somewhere called Wind ('Wined') Street in Swansea city centre has taken over as the go-to destination for Stags, Hens and drunken revellers, and relative peace has been restored to Mumbles. I thought it was nice, and villagey, with its huge beach looking out over Swansea Bay.
I wiggled all around the houses getting from Mumbles to Rhosilli which is the biggest (three mile) surf beach. I stopped to see beautiful Oxwich Bay on the southern side of The Gower, and kept going west. The peninsular has many densely populated villages – all feeling quite comfortable and prosperous - with great expanses of countryside between them. I found a campsite at Pitton near Rhossili at about 6.30pm and walked for half an hour, up Rhossili Hill, thinking I would see the bay. But I didn't.. so I walked back to the campsite.
Next day I set out to walk for half an hour or so before breakfast. I headed for the coast (south) and then east towards Rhossili. It was almost two hours before I got to Worms Head, a rocky promontory with a rocky causeway which is only exposed at low tide, on the south side of Rhossili Bay. I had no money on me and was starving!
Rhossili Bay
It is difficult to describe one vast and wonderful beach after another, when I have seen so many fantastic stretches of coast... but Rhossili, facing due west into the Bristol Channel, deserves all the adjectives that are thrown at it. Surfers, I am sure would explain why they find it so good... It took me half an hour to walk back by the road.
Here is a little Welsh joke... I got confused between Penarth and Penclawdd.. It isn't a great joke (it's just that they sound similar in Welsh, dd being th) but Penarth is an up-market suburb of Cardiff, while
Very distant cockle-pickers
Penclawdd is a place where hard-working cockle-pickers have scratched a living from the beds far out to sea, getting up at all hours depending on the tide.
Just before I was there the BBC re-ran part of a programme Derek Cooper made years ago about the Penclawdd cockle-pickers, and he talked to a wonderful Welsh lady and ate her cockle-pie and laverbread - and didn't enjoy the latter much. I felt I must go. Originally horses were used to bring in the cockles – they have to go miles out at low tide – and now they use tractors. But sadly by the time I had found the track that leads out to the cocklebeds the pickers were on their way back in.

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