Walked 14th August 2012
Approximate distance: 14 miles. This could be quite demanding if you walk through the dunes by Rhossili and there is a short soft section through the dunes at the end of Rhossili Bay. Mostly firm surfaces afterwards with one more climb and descent though dunes. Some of the fields by the marshes were quite soft and muddy.
OS Map: Explorer 164
I had stayed last night at the Worms Head Hotel. It would be difficult to overstate the pleasure to be had from sitting outside on their terrace having a drink and watching the sun set. And the food and accommodation at the hotel is OK. But at £86 for a room (double at single occupancy) I would have expected at least a bikki with the teabags, better quality toiletries and for the wifi to reach beyond reception. And the breakfast was well below standard with make your own instant coffee and indifferent produce. I have not seen more anaemic looking scrambled egg.
This section of the Wales Coast Path, and indeed the whole of its route on the Gower, comes within The City and County of Swansea. Their relevant officer for the path is Chris Dale. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Yesterday’s walk ended on a real high and I was not expecting today’s could be as good. But it started off well with bright blue skies and a pleasant sea breeze. From the Hotel (there are public toilets nearby) the path passes a little general stores and then goes round the C 13th St Mary’s Church and then follows a wide track at the foot of Rhossili Down but above the shore. (You could, if you like, take the high route over the downs – they join at Hillend).
I took the official route and still had very fine views over the two-mile long sandy beach. There are good views to be had looking back to Worms Head, too. You walk below The Old Rectory which is said to be the National Trusts most popular holiday cottage and featured in an episode of Torchwood. We had agreed last night that this single property, sitting beneath the downs makes perfect the view of the beach and downs from Rhossili (see a pic at the end of my last post.)
Shortly afterwards the path takes you through the massive Hillend Caravan and Camping Park by Hillend Burrows, the static homes jutting aggressively into the dunes. You walk right through the park to a minor road. There is a facilities hub here with toilets, a shop and Eddy’s Café. Turn left and follow the road back towards the dunes, passing the camping area on your right. Turn right at the end of the road and shortly afterwards head left though a soft sandy path through the dunes. I went straight for the shore, which at low tide was firm under foot and a pleasure to walk on. I love walking by the detritus deposited by the tides, popping seaweed bubbles under foot (I am a man of simple pleasures).
At the far end of the beach is the rocky outcrop of Burry Holms, the site of an ancient settlement. Head for the far right hand corner of the beach where the path climbs up through the dunes to a mostly firm grass path with a rich population of wild flowers. The loss of the views of Rhossili Bay is made up for the wonderful views over this corner of Carmarthen Bay and the estuary of the River Loughor.
Unless you are one of those 20 mile a day trekkers, this will be your landscape for the next couple of days.
You walk above several coves with small sandy beaches before dropping down to another caravan park at Broughton Farm. The path takes you through the park and meanders through the dunes before skirting another caravan park (the nearby Lagadranta tea room is announced here). A short climb up though the dunes gives you a great view over the caravans
and then a better one over Broughton Bay.
It continues to rise to a spectacular viewing point at Hills Tor (194 feet above sea level) where a couple deep in conversation deprived me of the best spot to sit and have a break.
From here is your last possible view of Worms Head. I found a nice enough place nearby on the top of these high cliffs to sit and have a cup of coffee. Below you to the right, Berges Island and the afforested Whiteford Nature Reserve jut into the estuary.
The Path brings you right down to the entrance to the Nature Reserve, where you have a choice to walk its perimeter, or take a short cut of a few hundred yards past Bone Cave. I accepted the extra two-mile walk around the nature reserve, so never saw the cave but I was well rewarded for my efforts.
The sandy shore was firm and near the high tide line carpeted with shells of mussels and cockles and the odd razor fish.
I loved the wide openness of this beach walk, at the far end of which but further out to sea is the cast iron Whiteford lighthouse, said to be Europe’s last remaining one of its kind.
The path then turns the corner of this promontory and heads back south across a veritable causeway of sea shells. Pause for more arty pics.
You need to look out for a finger-post which directs you off the beach and into the pine wood. It felt very strange to be suddenly thrust into the midst of a wood. But strange in a pleasurable way.
The path takes your through the edge of this closely planted landscape before emerging at the edge of Landimore Marsh.
You cross the corner of the marsh on the top of a sea wall and then cross a stream by some concrete stepping-stones. The wide salt marsh is grazed by sheep and is a deeply quiet and peaceful place.
You are walking on a stony path below a wooded escarpment for the next half a mile. You’ll be glad of decent soles to your boots but there is no alternative as the ground is very soft on the marsh side.
At Landimore, which has its own castle (but not much of one) the path takes you through this attractive little hamlet and then returns you to the marsh edge and about a mile and half though fields beneath the escarpment. Some of the fields were sound and some were very soft and squelchy. Half way along you get a glimpse of Weobly Castle perched above you.
A path does take you up there but by now I was getting too tired for this extra excursion. I met a cheery couple of ladies who were very impressed that I had walked from Rhossili. Signs of habitation begin to appear as you near Llanrhidian and you pass several nice looking marsh side properties.
The path emerges near the church of St Rhidian and St Illtyd and brings you to the Dolphin Inn. Which had its doors open and I left obliged to offer it my custom with a pint of bitter shandy and a packet of crisps.
At this point the path continues along the little road by the marsh. A house announces that it does B&B (07749804240) but I had booked one at The Common, about half a mile away on the B4295 (Hill Crest – tel 01792 390016 – it is on the market so may not be available for long). It was a comfortable room, the owners were friendly and I had the luxury of a bathroom with a bath. Hooray!
The only downside was that it is right beside the road which is quite busy, so it’s a little noisy. For supper I had little choice but to walk to the Caravan Park just a half a mile up the road, ostentatiously guarded by two black lions. To my shame (because I have not hidden my dislike for Caravan Parks) I enjoyed a perfectly nice pint and a burger at the quasi pub there and the manager very kindly gave me the code for their wifi, so I had a lovely end of the day watching the sun go down and having a chat with Twitter friends.