Day 876: Gower Peninsula, Pennard

I love it when a Sunday is a sunny day and day 876, November 25 was just that. I had done my long run already the day before and his Sundays are always rest days so nothing was stopping us going for this adventure. The Gower Peninsula, oh yes! In 1956, it had the honour to become the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain. If you look at the map, there are several such areas. We have wanted to visit Gower since March 2016 when we first stumbled into Swansea for half a day. That day was a bank holiday and we were not quite prepared for it so there was not a single bus going there. This time, we did the research, found out the few buses that do go there on a Sunday (better luck on any other day!). The truth, the buses from Swansea go like… every 2 hours. And the same ones turn around in Pennard and come back as well so there is not much choice. As we live outside Swansea in a small village, we only had this one choice: hop on the very first X13 that drove past us and then walk around for 1.5 hours until bus 14 to Pennard. Tip: Swansea Bay day ticket (buy in the mobile app) will get you to Pennard and back and around Swansea.

We used the time between the buses to walk on the Swansea Beach. It was as stunning as we remembered it. Vast strips of sand glistening in the sunlight. We could almost take off our hats, it was that warm. Bus 14 drives past the beach area so you can get on it further off the bus station. We almost missed it! It was not our fault. We were in the bus stop and two buses approached. The first one… not ours. The second, our number 14! We didn’t wave for the first one but it stopped anyway. We wanted the second but it was almost not stopping, driving past us, past the stop. We waved frantically. There was no way we could miss that one! It did stop a bit further away and waited for us. Lucky escape. We got to Pennard with a bunch of other people. The same people were one of the few buses returning later in the evening.

We followed the signs pointing towards the Three Cliffs Bay. Grassy paths on top of the cliff. At some point, we decided to hike down to the beach but first a picnic lunch on top of the cliff with the view of the sea and ant-like people and dogs on the beach! We got out our carrots, baked potato crisps, coconut cookies, clementines and feasted. Then we got down there. It was low tide, apparently. We could see the writings on the sand that the waves had doodled onto the beach at a time when the water washes over it. In some parts, the sand sank a bit. The footprints of dogs were deep. The footprints of horses even deeper. We glanced into caves, climbed through an opening in one of the three cliffs, jumped over small ponds, walked across a bridge when we encountered bigger ones, trekked uphill in loose sand, restricting us, making us work for the view that would be on the top – adventure! An old lady advised us to continue onwards, to go to Oxwich. We almost did. The path took us all the way into Nicholaston Woods, a Welsh jungle, lush with green foliage at a time when all trees are losing their leaves. The forest trails took us up and down, allowing to get a glimpse of the beach view sometimes. The map of the beaches and bus routes told me that 117 and 118 would be going back to Swansea from Oxwich but something kept nagging me. That odd feeling. So, somewhere in the middle of the Welsh jungle, I got out my smartphone, switched on the 4G and actually checked the bus times. I already knew how infrequent the buses can be on a Sunday. Now I found out that the buses we were putting our trust into would not be operating at all between the end of September and beginning of April. Check and double check, stay true to your plan. We turned around and luckily had enough time to get back to Pennard and catch the 16.11 bus which made sure that we got to the very last X13 that took us home. Huh, day saved. The way back was less scenic, we diverted to the road, real tarmac with cars and other traffic. Quite a narrow path with some rewarding views. It was 5 km back to Pennard. I believe that the entire trek was 13 km or a bit more and contained lots of climbing. Funnily enough, our legs didn’t get sore afterwards. Must have got used to all that walking as we had dogs before to look after.

Progress Report

1. Own and live in a house.

During our little adventure, I could think what it would be like to live on such a cliff. To be a bit away from the world but then again so much in the world, gifted with such precious views. It could get lonely sometimes. When would you be tired of it all? I am happy with the piece of land that we have already bought. Cut off but reasonably accessible to the world.

2. Write AND publish a book.

Didn’t really write anything but my mind got a true rest in nature. Such hikes always make me feel better, inspired and alive. I did continue reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale whenever we were on the bus.

3. Win a major race.

Didn’t go for a run but exercised my muscles by climbing up and down the hills and walking in the sand. Functional strength workout!

Photo of the Day

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Most of the hike photos are up on Instagram already but here is one more! Oh, I also have a photo of a dead mouse that we found once we got back ‘home’. Apparently, we had been away for so long time that the cats were worried we’d be hungry once we get back and caught us a little something.

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