Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Going to Gower

25th December 2011

July turned out to be a month when I was away for four weekends in a row and I decided that the same would apply to the fifth one to make a clean sweep. As it happened, August became a quiet month for hill wandering even if I had a few days off from work at the end of it. Then, a busy working life meant that any taking of the fine weather that was around for much of it took the form of local cycles with a call to Alderley Edge and Hare Hill featuring on one of the Saturdays. That has planted in my mind the idea of a walk taking in both of these for when I only have a few hours to spare.

On that last weekend in July, I headed to Gower via the Heart of Wales railway. That in itself has me mulling over the prospects for multi-day trips due to the travel practicalities involved; the train service is limited to just a few services each way every day. Stations such as Cynghordy and Sugar Loaf seem to offer easy access to the countryside round about there. Former spa towns such as Llandrindod Wells, Llangammarch Wells and Llanwrtyd Wells all are near stations on the line while Builth Wells is a little further away and may be better accessed using a Trawscambria bus from Newtown on the Cambrian Coast line. Though the appearance of the countryside wasn’t helped by the cloudy skies that lay overhead as I passed through it, thoughts of exploring hilly parts that are new to me sounds appealing. After all, the Elan valley is not so far away from Llandrindodd Wells either. All of these trip ideas need more work to make them happen but it’s great to have the possibilities regardless of this.

Swansea had the sun trying to break though the cloud cover without a great deal of success when I arrived and that was set to continue until I left too. While I have no doubts as to the scenic attractiveness of the Gower coastline, it was being afflicted by a lot of haze when I got to Rhossili. That may have limited whatever could be done with a camera, but I still enjoyed my potter around there anyway.

First, I walked out towards Worm’s Head, a famous spot featured in many a photo that graced the pages of magazines such as Outdoor Photography. Being owned by the National Trust meant that I wasn’t the only one heading that way though the crowds petered out the further along I went. The tide was in so I more than contented myself with seeing the rocky formations from the mainland. In any event, I am not so sure that crossing a tidal causeway sounds too appealing me even if there’s a coastguard station nearby. That tells its own story so I think it best to stay on the mainland anyway.

My next steps took me south along the rocky coastline for little while before I turned inland again to negotiate a few public rights of way to return to Rhossili again. Having a little time on my hands before I needed to make my way back to my base for the night, I fitted in a climb to the top of The Beacon on Rhossili Down where moorland was to be found. Any designs on a circular walk were put on hold in the interests of time but this was a good introduction. The need to gain a little height also meant that I’d found a quieter corner of Rhossili too. In fact, making a full a circular walk over and around Rhossili Down sounds like a perfect excuse for returning to that part of the world.

Apart from Rhossili, there are places in the Gower that sound as if they are worth visiting too. A trot from Oxwich to Port-Eynon to Rhossili sounds promising and a visit to Mumbles could be interesting too although it looks very built up on the map. Apparently accommodation can be tricky to organise on the Gower during the busy season so a little forethought might be in order. Getting weather that works wonders for the appearance of the coastline would help too. Sunshine may have been in short supply while I was there but the excursion really opened up ideas for me so I am not complaining.

Travel Arrangements:

Outbound train from Macclesfield to Swansea with changes at Stockport and Shrewsbury, the latter being for the train going down the Heart of Wales line. Return bus journey on X18 between Swansea and Rhossili. Return train trip from Swansea to Crewe via the Heart of Wales line and having a change in Shrewsbury. Bus service 38 from Crewe to Macclesfield.

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