94. Oystermouth to Margam

High pressure over the UK for most of the week meant it would have been remiss not to take advantage. So it was an early start from Shropshire to drive to Margam, just outside Port Talbot, and catch the 7:15 #X1 to Swansea. I gulped at the £5 charge, but upon examining my ticket I could see that the ticket was a Swansea Bay Adult Day Traveller, which meant that the onward bus to Oystermouth was covered by the ticket. Perhaps that were I went wrong last week when I complained about the high prices – I should have bought a day traveller ticket type.

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The type of terrain for most of the walk

I got off at Oystermouth and literally launched into my walk. This was to be a trainer day, with a light rucksack as well. If I needed additional water then I would simply buy. The path followed the road and shoreline right around in a big sweep towards Swansea. The day was a beautiful sunny day with a nice sharp, but gentle breeze. I was joined by a multitude of people jogging, cycling, walking – mainly doggies and people going to work. I was making excellent time (finished in 5.25hrs)  and loafing around is something I rarely do, so I do miss some things sometimes.

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Used gym equipment exhibited as beach sculpture

But I did notice some interesting use made of old gym equipment being used for beach sculpture. The path passed through part of the University buildings and attractive beachfront apartments. In no time I was crossing a footbridge over part of the harbour. I skirted around the Prince of Wales Dock, after which the path followed a straight, overgrown and quite boring canal path called the Tennant path – not my cup of tea.

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Beached whale at Aberavon

The path emerged on a road which led to the A48 and joined the M4 in a twisting spire of slip roads which were well above the path. The path now on the A48 crossed over the River Neath and afforded excellent views not only across to the M4 bridge but also  back up towards the Vale of Neath. The WCP then dropped down towards the old docks – but with little remaining – apart from the Brunel Tower. Before long it was back to the coast and a spot of beach walking which continued for several miles.

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Dominating the skyline – The Port Talbot steelworks

The beachfront at Aberavon is in a state of flux with new developments ongoing. The path then moved through a much rougher area, with litter and rubbish in abundance. The path then followed new roads linked several roundabouts opposite the Port Talbot steelworks. The last 2 miles was spent walking at the back of the houses that fronted onto the A48 amongst litter, rubbish and dog muck!

 

 

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance =   1449 miles

93. Rhossili to Oystermouth

What a difference a day makes! When I alighted from the #118 bus I was treated to a very different Gower, with almost cloudless skies, a tranquil sea and views stretching across the Bristol Channel to Devon and Somerset. With a slight breeze to take the chill off the air I walked out to the coastguard lookout station 0verlooking the Worms Head. No chance of getting out to Worms Head for some hours as the tide was well in.

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Looking out towards Worms Head

The next 7.5hrs was beautiful, walking mainly on springy and with few descents I was treated to stunning scenery which you normally associate with limestone country. There were a number of small valleys that I had to pass over which were probably the result of collapsed sea caves.

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High Tor

At Port Eynon I was able to walk across the beach before re-joining the path again at Horton. My least favourite part of the walk was upon rounding Oxwich Point, the mile or so walking through Oxwich Wood were the path persistently went up and down steeply. I was pleased to see that Celandine had come into flower – always a sign that spring is around the corner.

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Looking back to Oxwich Bay from Three Cliffs Bay

At Oxwich Bay the tide was well out and I was able to make a B-line for Pennard Burrows. On High Tor and the other smaller tors there were a number of climbers trying out their skills.

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Looking towards The Mumbles

After passing through Southgate I was never far away from other walkers, particularly after Caswell Bay where the path became a tarmac route all the way to the Mumbles. I had decided initially to terminate the walk at the Mumbles, but I knew there was only one bus that went from there. I decided therefore to continue another mile on towards Oystermouth, where there more bus routes and would make it easier to resume my next section. The legs did not appreciate this though, as the 25 miles were taking their toll. I finished 8hrs after starting out from Rhossili. Perhaps one of the best walks along the Wales Coast Path.

Distance today = 25 miles
Total distance =   1429 miles

92. Rhossili to Gowerton

My attention next turned to tackling the Gower. I decided I would make a 2-dayer out of it, using Swansea as my base. I knew the weather would be not so good for the first day and my fears were soon realised as I drove down over the Brecon Beacons in a snowstorm!

 

Burry Holms
Burry Holms

My first section was to be Rhossili to Gowerton, to do this section meant catching two buses. I parked in Swansea close to the hotel I was staying at and caught the 07:50 #118 to Rhossili at a cost of £4.80. When I alighted at Rhossili it was like stepping into a hurricane, although the horizontal rain was not too bad, the wind of 40 – 50mph was directly at me full-on. I had this for the majority of the day, especially when the path veered to a northerly direction. The first couple of hours was tough, particularly as I battled the winds along Rhossili beach to Burry Holms.  I was forced to look down at the ground as the sand was whipped up and blasted at me.

 

Whiteford Burrows
Whiteford Burrows

I had a brief respite as I turned east, but then had the onslaught again all the way out along Whiteford sands.

I encountered a couple of problems with the path around Cwm Ivy, the first was the collapse of part of the sea-wall.

 

Drifting sand at Berges Island
Drifting sand at Berges Island

This was easily circumvented by clambering down to the right of my photo and picking my way over the wall debris. However, further up I was stymied by the stepping stones across one of the small channels, which were not visible. I could have easily vaulted the channel with the aid of my walking stick, but I had not brought it with me this time. So I then followed the high tide route.

Collapsed Sea wall at Cwm Ivy
Collapsed Sea wall at Cwm Ivy

Cheriton, Llanrhidian and Crofty came as the path eventually led onto a small flood-risk  and high tide prone road. The road was quite welcome by this time as the state of the fields, particularly with livestock in them, made the going really tough.

I was able to enjoy fine views across the Llanrhidian Marsh and Loughor Esatuary towards Burry Port and Llanelli. This section had a great amount of tarmac, which I did not mind so much. I made good time and progress after Pen y Clawdd and soon arrived at Gowerton to link up with my previous section.

I then had to catch the second bus of the day back to Swansea. I was lucky and only had to wait 15mins for the #116 at a cost of £3.80. I was surprised at the cost of bus journeys (even short ones) around Swansea and Carmarthen. I suspect they do not attract the subsidies that services in Mid and North Wales enjoy. The walk had taken 7.5 hours for the 21 miles.

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance =   1404 miles

91. Gowerton to Burry Port

I originally intended to walk from Burry Port out onto the Gower, but the lack of any bus transport on a sunday to the Gower meant a re-think. However, I did see that there is a regular train service between Burry Port to Gowerton, I would do a shorter walk of 12 miles today. As usual it was a very early start for the drive down to South Wales. I noticed as I drove through the Brecon Beacons that the snow was down at quite low levels, but it would not be troubling me today.

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The ruins of Loughor Castle

I parked at Gowerton railway station and was away by 7:00 walking to pick the WCP up about a mile down the road. The light was good, although it was very cold on my hands…..mitts on. I made my along quiet roads and paths before I came to the Loughor Bridge which  unsurprisingly spans the River Loughor and marks the municipal boundaries of Carmarthenshire and Swansea. Closeby the bridge, on a small hillock, is Loughor Castle, a Norman castle that has been in ruins for centuries.

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Part of the original Brunel Viaduct at Loughor

As I approached Llanelli I picked up what is the Millenium Coastal Path, which runs for 13 miles from Llanelli to Pembrey park and more or less follows the WCP. The path this morning was very busy with walkers, dog walkers, joggers and  cyclists all getting a lungful of fresh air. The path west from Llanelli is wide and  of good quality and seems to be marked at various locations with a silver needle piece of sculpture.

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Millenium Coastal Path sculpture

I passed a set of Rugby posts which appeared not to be part of a rugby pitch and with metal cuts of two rugby players. The goal posts apparently stood at Stradley Park, which was a  famous rugby venue some years back. I’m not a rugby fan, so it was all news to me.

As I approached Burry Port I was confronted with a number of  plaques all  claiming that Amelia Earhart landed here or stepped ashore here in 1928 after completing a trans-Atlantic flight. On this ocassion, Earhart was merely a passenger, but four years later in 1932 she was to become the first woman to fly non-stop  across the Atlantic.

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Stradley Park goalposts, with cut-outs

I arrived in Burry Port and made my way to the rail station and catch the 10:33 train back to Gowerton. I must admit I was not particularly enthused by this walk, I think it reminded me a bit to much of the Costa

 

del Rhyl. Managed to do the 12 miles in 3hrs 15mins. Next up will be a 2 day trip to the Gower.

 

Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance =   1383 miles

 

90. Carmarthen to Burry Port

This was to be a single  long day with a drive down from Shropshire to walk the 23 miles between Burry Port and Carmarthen. I had  decided to park the car at the train station car park, but was flummoxed when the pay and display machine was not working. I was very sceptical about this as an excuse for not displaying a ticket, so I paid an extra 90p and paid £3.20 in the nearby NCP car park. Well it was better than a £60 quid fine!

Above the Afon Towy looking back to Carmarthen
Above the Afon Towy looking back to Carmarthen

I started walking about 7’o clock in the morning, so most of Carmarthen was still asleep as walked out along roads and lanes. Gradually climbing and still with a hazy view  looking back to Carmarthen I passed through the quiet  village of Croesyceiliog. The path eventually went off road and I was pleased to find that the ground had begun to dry out a bit since I was last walking in the area a few days beforehand.

Interesting sculpture at Ferryside
Interesting sculpture at Ferryside

Even though the weather was chilly,, it was sunny and the walk had a definite feel of spring about it. Before I arrived at Ferryside I passed through a farm where problem dogs had been reported, so I came prepared with dog biccy’s  aplenty. One of the canine fiends, an elderly Labrador came out and continued to follow me barking a good 100 metres up the lane. He was’nt interested in the biscuit! The walk out of Ferryside saw the WCP  shoot inland, I was not interested in that so I decided to stay on the smaller coastal route, which offered good views and was closer to the coast.

Dry Ski slope at Pembrey Park
Dry Ski slope at Pembrey Park

I passed through Kidwelly, visiting the old Quay as I left. I was then walking along the main road before turning in into the old Pembrey airfield. After what seemed like an age walking along dead straight concrete pathways I emerged onto the Cefn Sidan sands . The walking was easy along the sands marked with a small cliff line of dunes. There were a few people on the beach, but quite a few more in land around the dry ski slope as well as the huge parkland area of  Pembrey. I had to get my skates on as I approached the Pembrey harbour as I wanted to get the 14:29 train to Carmarthen, I managed to get there with 10 mins to spare. 7 hours for 23 miles was good going, just the 128 mile back to Telford now!

Burry Port harbour
Burry Port harbour

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance =   1371 miles

 

89. Carmarthen to St. Clears

 

Today was to be a straightforward day. I would simply leave my car at the B&B, get the 7:45 No. 222 to Carmarthen and walk the 19 miles back to the B&B. The bus was almost full as I joined people going to work or just shopping in Carmarthen. It had frozen again last night, but only down to -2. Carmarthen was shrouded in a thick morning fog which did not clear untill almost midday.

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A misty Carmarthen

I followed the River Towy for awhile before doing some roadwork and then walking through woodland to avoid the main road. The path skirted Llangain, before finally dropping down a green lane to Llansteffan. The path at this point had dropped back down to the Towy estuary and I could see a train across the estuary at Ferrycross. The ferry linking Llansteffan with Ferrycross had ceased some years ago, thus the reason I was walking this inland detou. As I climbed out of Llansteffan the path circled below the castle, which looked quite dark

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Looking across the Towy to Ferryside

and brooding. Unfortunately, I was not able to get  a good photo opportunity to. The path continued along quiet roads and very muddy fields. Excellent views were had across to the Gower and to the west towards Tenby. I made excellent progress despite the under foot conditions. I could also see how the Taf and Towy both joines in an entanglement of distant sand banks. As I veered north I was available to mark yesterdays

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The confluence of the Taf and Towy estuaries

walk on the opposite side of the river, clearly seeing the sleepy village of laugharne The final couple of fields before St. Clears were especially muddy, but I did not mind. My feet were dry and the Goretex gaiters I use did their job well.

I noticed on a couple of kissing gates an enclosure that appeared locked. From the photo you can probably get a better idea.

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Kissing Gate counter mechanism?

The bit thatat goes into the hole does not have a latch, so I can only surmise that it is a ‘sleeping’ counter device giving an idea of walker numbers. I arrived back at the B&B 6 hrs exactly from setting out from Carmarthen. All that was left was a 3hr drive home.

 

 

 

 

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance =   1348 miles

 

 

88. St. Clears to Amroth

Today was going to see me return to Amroth in Pembrokeshire and the end/start of the PCP which I completed in 2006 and which today i would continue to walk eastwards.

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Leaving a frosty St. Clears

The plan for todaywas to drive very early to St. Clears. I had arranged to park my car at the B&B that I would be staying at that night. The Manordaf B&B sits on the WCP, just by the bridge over the River Taf. Very handy!

I started to walk very early with the sun yet to come up.It had been freezing overnight and the 4 miles to Laugharne had been over frosty, not frozen fields and footpaths. The approach to Laugharne was along a lovely wooded track that passed alongside the Boathouse the home of Dylan Thomas. About 100m further on the path passed the carefully preserved Garage in which Thomas wrote many of this well known works

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The Garage – just as he left it

including Under Milk Wood. I decided it would only be fitting to pay my respects to Dylan Thomas, who is buried in the local churchyard. The detour was only about 800m. It took awhile to find his grave, which was marked with just a simple white cross with black lettering. The grave is also the resting place of his wife Caitlin.

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The grave of Dylan & Caitlin Thomas

I continued on mainly roads all the way to Pendine, passing through Llanmiloe. I must say there was not a great deal in Pendine, apart from the Museum of Speed. On arriving in Pendine my plan was to catch the 11:00 No. 351 bus to Amroth the walk back to Pendine then catch the No. 222 back to St. Clears. The £1.50 fare from Pendine to Amroth was an absolute bargain.

It had turned into a beautiful and sunny day and I was rewarded with views across to Tenby to the west, the Gower to the east and to south the distant coastline of Devon and Somerset; I could even make out the feint outline of Lundy.

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Incipient sea caves at Amroth

I was aware there were a few ups and downs on the path back to Pendine, but i noticed that the tide was well out and I could easily walk back along the beach to Pendine. I made very good time to Pendine and with a an hour to kill until the next bus I headed for the Point Cafe and a well-earned cool drink.

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance =   1329 miles