Saturday, 13 August 2011

Doing 'The Worm'

I'd never really done a coastal walk before, not properly anyway. After 15 miles of Gower Peninsula walking last weekend, I was asking myself 'why?'! The Route was from Port Eynon to Rhosilli, a detour to 'do' Worms Head, and then over 'The Beacon' to our campsite near Llangennith.

The scenery was superb. A refreshing change from the upland walks, with beautiful coves and headlands.

6 of us set out from Port Eynon at 10am-ish. Keith and Ian were joining our happy little band of yompers for the first time and I think, in hindsight, we picked a great walk for their debut.

Straight away, things got a little bit scrambly. Excellent!

The wild southern coast of the Gower Peninsula - very reminiscent of parts of Cornwall or the Pembrokeshie coast...unspoilt, rugged, and very beeyyyoootiful.

 The odd shower that was forecast did materialise, and it gave Shagger a great chance to try out his stealth camouflage gear he had recently acquired on the QT from a friend in the Special Forces. Can you spot him in this photo? Thought not.

Here he is look. Impressive stuff eh?

 Parts of the coastal path along this stretch (as with most coastal paths I guess) is exposed in places, with a few nasty drops. And some of the overhangs look pretty unstable so care was needed, and taken.

But the vistas were textbook.

And there looked to be some mightily impressive crags and buttresses for rock climbing. This particular buttress smacked you metaphorically in the face just as you rounded a small headland. Very Tryfan-esque I thought.

Worms Head came into view after a few miles of walking. It was doubtful if we would have time to 'do the worm' as we wanted to watch the Wales-England game in the Worms Head Hotel at 2:30. Nobody thought to check in advance if they had Sky Sports this far out in the styx?! School boy error.

We stumbled upon one particularly inviting crag at a perect angle for a little scrambling practice.

One of the many inviting valleys leading to small coves along the path.

 Just prior to arriving in Rhosilli we descended down to a small sandy cove called Fall Bay. Time for a dip! The water was cool and very refreshing after 5 miles of sweaty walking. In fact, as soon as your body had acclimatised, it was as good a beach for swimming as any in the my opinion!

We spent 15 minutes in the water and even did a spot of synchronised swimming!

A quick 5 minute detour via a footpath across some fields and we arrived in Rhosilli to be greeted by the postcard view. Rhosilli was recentl;y voted Britain's best beach (I think it was a decent poll in the Guardian or similar?) and you can see why.

Upon Keith's recommendation we shoved 6 homemade burgers and chips down our necks, and then asked the barman if he could put Sky Sports on for the Welsh Game. "We haven't got Sky Sports sorry."
Bollocks! However, this meant we had time to get over to Worm's Head at low tide...every cloud and all that.

Klampitt (looking rather camp), Scuba and Shagger in the rockpools.

The far end of Worms Head with the Atlantic stretching into the distance...

A particularly impressive piece of driftwood...

And then, just as we were nearing the far end of Worms Head, we saw these...

Seals! And quite a few of them. They were happily splashing around just 15m below us and didn't seem too bothered by our presence. It made a brilliant walk something very special.

The guys crossing Devils' Bridge.

And a good angle of the far end of this geological promontory! (whatever one of them is?)

After doing The Worm, we headed up out of Rhosilli, towards 'The Beacon' which is the highest point on Gower. I think it's around 190m and there are great views in all directions...

The tallest man on the Gower (6'8" of clinically confirmed Giant, Keith) meets the highest point on Gower.

From there it was down towards the campsite across moorland and wheatfields, with the odd wrong turning, adding a few extra minutes to the walk. (must get OS map next time!!). Eventually, we had walked 15 miles and dragged our weary arses into the campsite at around 18:15.

Then it was a quick shower and of to The Kings Head in Llangennith for Gammon and Chips and several (many) pints of lager and the odd Jaegerbomb. As yomps go, not far from perfect!

Klampitt and me at The Kings Head.

Welsh 3 Peaks continued....

After a bit of a struggle for a few members of the group, we eventually made the summit of Cadair Idris at around 11:30am. It was surprisingly quiet - just a local family of 3 who had come up from the Minforrdd side, and a swarm of relatively calm wasps. The group shot was ticked off and we took a break on the grass near the summit shelter, enjoying hazy views to Barmouth, The Rhinogs and The Arans.

At this point we decided to split the group into two. Some would retrace the pony path and the more adventurous/idiotic/ignorant among us, would descend the scree slope to Llyn Y Gadair for a dip. I was in the latter group, and somewhere between the the first two adjectives.

Myself and young Naiose literally flew down the scree, with me trying to catch him, but those young Irish limbs had the better of my older Welsh ones. Still, we got to the Llyn first and the other 7 arrived over the next 30 minutes. Cue Yompfest dip time! The water looked inviting but cold...And it was, but not so cold as too force you back out the moment you take the plunge. We all had a short swim and a splash before realising that time was cracking on and we needed to get back to the bus to meet the others.

The next leg on the minibus was excruciating! Harder than any part of the walk. Just keeping your eyes open was so difficult. I sat up front with Nicholls and our driver, and weekend leader, Brian Hayter, talking bollocks to ensure Brian didnt fall asleep at the wheel.

Eventually we reached the Storey Arms and set off on the final short leg to Pen Y Fan. Unlike the first two peaks, and because it was a sunny weekend evening in July, the 'motorway' leading up from the carpark, was very busy.

The walk leader and all round top guy, Brian Hayter.

I think it took between 1½ and 2 hours for the whole group to summit, but we did it! Surrounded by a swarm of small biting insects (midges?) - what is it with swarms of insects and Welsh 3 peak tops?? - we cracked open 3 bottles of Asti Spumante I had brought along for the occasion. Yeah, Asti Spumante! I know how to celebrate, me. A quick formula one style spraying and a group shot, and we were done. Finished in well under 15 hours!

The members of the group had done the challenge in aid of two different charities. The Cardiac Rehabilitation Trust and Ieuan The Lions fund. I was proud to help raise somewhere between £800 and £1000 for Ieuans fund ( - we're still collecting proceeds at time of writing - and we took Ieuans spirit with us to the top of all 3 peaks.

Then, we got off the summit as quick as we could as the midges had become unbearable, and the DEET was in short supply.

All in all, it was a fantastic challenge, in excellent weather, with a great bunch of people.
We arrived back at the carpark and removed shoes and socks to dip our feet in the cold stream. Bliss.
Some of the group opted for an icecream from the van, and a few of us spotted a small board near the van advertising a '30 mile Mountain Trail Challenge' in aid of the Beacons Mountain Rescue on September 17th! Where do I sign......?