149. Southgate – Baglan
Distance: 22.05 miles
Max Altitude: 102 m
Min Altitude: 7 m
Height Gain: 535 m
Height Loss: 570 m
Yesterday evening had been spent studying maps and mileage charts. I had had a finish date for my trek in and for a while but I needed to see if my target was realistic. I was determined that it was, so I began to work out my distances needed every day over the next few days in order to make it happen. It seemed do-able.
With that in mind, I set out from Southgate and headed east on the Wales Coast Path. It wasn’t a blue sky day but it looked pretty dramatic nonetheless.
I was faced with the inevitable on Pwlldu Head.
They looked friendly enough and studied me with curiosity.
This time I was fortunate, and they made way for me eventually. The track took me down to Pwlldu Bay. I crossed the ford using a footbridge.
Shortly I arrived into Caswell Bay, another wonderful surfing location. It was looking as quiet as I’d ever seen it. No thrill seekers today.
I had a cheeky hot chocolate at the cafe and continued.
Another surfing destination was next. This time Langland Bay. And again, it was quiet.
I was making good time. The goals I had set were spurring me onwards and it felt like I had reached Limeslade in next to no time.
Extra motivation came in the form of another lighthouse to add to my growing collection on this hike. How many is that now?? The Mumbles Lighthouse was completed in 1794.
It was a short descent into the Mumbles itself and past the lifeboat house. In 1947 the Mumbles lifeboat and her crew of eight were lost while assisting the SS Samtampa which had run aground near Rest Bay.
From now on, it would be a flat and even surface for miles and miles, so I knew I was in with a good shot of hiking quite a distance. Some people hate walking on concrete or tarmac but it’s a godsend for my dodgy ankle. And by now, I’m never happier than when I’m faced with no hills. Hiking 1100 miles will do that to you.
The huge swoop of Swansea Bay was laid out in front of me, fresh to conquer. So off I went.
As I walked, I started to feel guilty about not spending more time in the Mumbles. I didn’t even stop for a Joe’s ice cream, which is nothing short of scandalous, frankly.
Dotted along the coastline were various public art exhibits. This one denotes a musical osprey.
Not sure about the added graffiti, mind you.
I looked out from the seafront back towards the Mumbles. I had come such a long way already.
I was at Swansea’s Civic Centre. What a view. It was the beginning of the Maritime Quarter, an area of the city that has undergone a lot of regeneration and where work is still ongoing.
Again, lots of public art on show. This is Zeta Mnemonical, a sculpture and weather vane.
And plenty of nice detailing on the buildings too.
Although it wasn’t as inspiring as the beachfront, I was grateful for the flat and even surface to walk on. So were my feet.
And yes, I was enjoying my walk. Very much in fact.
By now I was near the Swansea Barrage, built across the Afon Tawe. This is where Swansea gets its indigenous name, Abertawe. The English version, Swansea, is thought to be derived from Old Norse.
This is the Trafalgar Bridge, a pedestrian and cycle bridge that spans the river.
It cost £1.2 million to build and part of the bridge swings open with the lock gates. I had arrived just in time to see the lock gates open up for a small boat.
I waited for the bridge to swing back and crossed to the other side.
Dramatic skies hung above the marina.
It was the last dramatic view that I had during my walk. The Wales Coast Path has to turn away from the coast in order to avoid the city’s docklands area. I found myself walking on the pavement alongside the main road for what felt like ages. It wasn’t inspiring, but it wasn’t hard on my feet either, so it was a compromise I was willing to make. I walked past industrial units and factories with hundreds of cars driving by me. There wasn’t much to photograph so I didn’t need to stop.
By the time I got to Baglan, I could scarcely believe the progress I had made. My mileage chart said the hike was 18 miles but my GPS said 22. Either way, I had just taken a huge chunk of my remaining journey out. I felt bad for rushing past Swansea and not exploring further but I had my goal in mind and nothing would deter me from it.