145. Crofty – Rhossili
Distance: 15.47 miles
Max Altitude: 73 m
Min Altitude: 1 m
Height Gain: 383 m
Height Loss: 342 m
I could scarcely believe that I had yet another blue sky above my head. My luck was in once more. I began hiking beside a saltmarsh.
During World War II, the area was home to several gun batteries. Various types of shells, including high-explosive and mustard gas, were fired across these saltmarshes. Quantities of unwanted munitions were also buried nearer the sea. As a consequence, the area is regularly swept by the Royal Navy’s bomb disposal team. There were rumours that anthrax biological warfare shells had been tested against sheep in the estuary too. Disturbingly, these rumours were actually substantiated in a reply to a parliamentary question from the late Tony Banks in January 1987.
I hurried past.
I saw a pile of stones in the distance, or what I thought were stones, at least. As I got closer, I realised that, in fact, it was a huge pile of discarded cockle shells.
And what I was walking on was a surface of crushed cockle shells.
The Llanrhidian Marsh is a vast expanse of area, which is grazed by sheep…
…and friendly horses.
But since this area is marshland, it can also be dangerous to walk on during high tides and stormy weather.
My walk took me past some idyllic scenery.
Plus this was the first time that I had encountered Shetland ponies on my travels.
Often it felt like I was the inhabitant of some painting depicting a picturesque scene.
This pig sty is thought to date from the 19th century and is a well-preserved example of something that was once a common feature in the Gower landscape.
You see all sorts when you’re walking, you really do.
They’ve got a point –
When I got to the northernmost end of the peninsula, I was prevented from continuing around towards Whiteford Point and was diverted away from the area due to coastal erosion washing the path away. How disappointing. I had been looking forward to adding yet another lighthouse to my collection, especially since the Whiteford Lighthouse is a rare example of a cast iron lighthouse.
On I went aside Broughton Bay whilst vowing to return to the lighthouse.
The Wales Coast Path took me past Ynys Ianwol (Burry Holms). Nine thousand years ago it was inhabited by nomadic Mesolithic hunters. Excavations of the site over the years have uncovered flint tools, as well as charcoal, charred hazelnut shells, and also tools made from wood and bone. During the Iron Age people built a hillfort on the island, while in Medieval times it was the site of a monastery.
To me it looked like a person lying down in the sand on their side.
By now I was heading south on Llangenydd (Llangennith) beach, one of Wales’ finest surfing locations. The sun was setting to reveal the most spectacular sky I think I’d seen during the entire trip. I was mesmerised. Photographers aplenty had gathered on the sand with their expensive cameras to capture the scene, while I attempted to make the best of it with my phone.
I was debating whether to finish my day’s walk right here. But looking southwards, Rhossili was calling to me. The tide was way out so I took advantage of that and walked down the beach. I arrived in Rhossili in virtual darkness.
I capped my wonderful day’s hike with a drink at The Worm’s Head Hotel. It would have been rude not to. These words greeted me on the way in. How apt.