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Category: Llwybr Arfordir Gŵyr & Bae Abertawe – Gower & Swansea Bay Coast Path

150. Baglan- Rest Bay

150. Baglan- Rest Bay


Distance: 16.20 miles

Max Altitude: 43 m

Min Altitude: 1 m

Height Gain: 185 m

Height Loss: 177 m

After yesterday, I was well on track to make my end goal, so I woke up sore, shattered but chuffed. I was looking forward to rejoining the coast on the first part of my day’s hike.

Aberafan is a beautiful stretch of coastline with soft sand and decent surf.

Public art adorns the promenade every few metres.

Once again I was grateful for the flat and even surface; nothing short of a godsend for my battered feet.

But all good things must come to an end, they say.

And the beach at Aberafan Sands was no exception.

From here on out, I would be hiking through and around one of South Wales’ most famous industrial landscapes – Port Talbot.

I walked with curiosity. Some people dislike the urban or industrial sections of the Wales Coast Path, preferring the numerous rugged and wild cliffs and so forth, but not me. One of the unique things about the WCP is its variety. When I’m walking past a factory or power station or even an alleyway, it’s as though the trail gives me the chance to look behind the scenes somehow, and offer a glimpse of something I wouldn’t ordinarily see. And me being a nosey sort, well, I find that pleasing.

Besides, the path was perfectly flat, so I wasn’t complaining. And there were things to study every few metres too.

My map told me that I had to cross this bridge. It had been built in 1903 by the Aberavon Corporation.

However –

A gap had been prized open in the fence and a pensioner rode through on his bike, giving me a smile as he did so. But new waymarks were directing me in the opposite direction, different to my map. So I followed them.

I was being led into Aberafan along the pavement.

Incidentally, calling this location ‘Port Talbot’ is a fairly recent thing. Port Talbot is formed from the merging of several villages, including Baglan, Aberafan and Margam. The name Port Talbot came about as a result of the Talbot family, who were local landowners. The Talbots were patrons of Margam Abbey, and also built Margam Castle. An extensive ironworks was built on their property. And they went on to develop a port and railway system too.

After I crossed the above footbridge I was on the lookout for a waymark. Finally I saw one. But I was being led down narrow lanes that I didn’t feel entirely comfortable walking down.

So I decided to walk through the town in order to try to find some food instead.

I ended up back out on the side of the road with the steelworks right in front of me. How many thousands of times have I driven past on the M4 staring a the smoke stacks I wonder? Not once have I stood beneath this behemoth at ground level though.

Everywhere I looked there were pipes and smoke and metal and grime.

The Wales Coast Path then took me through the village of Margam. By now I was far inland and walking past streets and houses on the pavement. Eventually, I was diverted back towards the coast.

Suddenly, the heavy industry disappeared and I ended up in woodland.

On the other side of the spiked fence was Eglwys Nunydd reservoir, a body of water I’d seen so many times from inside a car while whizzing past. It was created to provide water for the Tata steelworks.

I reached the end of the wooded lane and found myself at a level crossing. Only this was the type of level crossing that I hadn’t seen before. Instead of one or two lines, there were at least ten. I imagine one or two were for passenger trains and the rest for the steelworks.

There were warning and health and safety signs everywhere.

And I got to see the steelworks from the other side.

It was eerily quiet and a little creepy, I don’t mind admitting.

I seemed to be in some sort of defunct railway yard.

Pylons towered above me, their wires buzzing with electricity.

The ground became boggy but a purpose built causeway spared my feet from the sog.

Well, almost.

There was no doubt about where I was. The grime and oil from nearby was more than evident.

Continuing, I wasn’t sure of the way, so ascended a sand dune to see where I was in relation to the steelworks and the coast. That’s when this train graveyard appeared.

So I went exploring.

This is somewhere that I’ll definitely return to in the future. But with a proper camera rather than just a mobile phone.

The Wales Coast Path was heading into the Kenfig National Nature Reserve, one of Wales’ top sand-dune reserves.

The steelworks were now behind me. Unlike Shotton or Pembroke Dock for example, Port Talbot had left me feeling empty. Perhaps it was the weather. A blue sky has the ability to give most things a lift, but here I was under grey skies.

Anyway, I was back next to the sea once more so all was well with the world.

Even better was the dedicated track for walkers.

I reached Sker Point, location of one of Wales’ worst sea tragedies, and one which my mother remembers and has told me about. In 1947, the SS Samtampa was a steamship which ran aground at this location. There were 47 deaths, 39 from the ship and eight from volunteer crew of the Mumbles lifeboat. I had walked past that RNLI station only yesterday.

This sign told me that I was nearing the end of my day. I was next to the Royal Porthcawl links golf course.

It meant that I was coming in to one of my favourite beaches, Rest Bay. The sweet memories of long, hot childhood summers came flooding back. Splashing in the sea, building sand castles, exploring rock pools and then gathering bits and bobs quickly before the tide came in. The tidal range in this neck of the woods is the second highest in the world and comes in like an F1 car. One minute you’re padding about on dry sand, the next you’re up to your neck in saltwater if you’re not careful.

It was getting dark so I was grateful for this special EU-funded boardwalk that guided me in to Rest Bay.

My day finished with me looking out at the sea in wonderment. How on earth had I got here? Had I really walked all this way in order to get to one of my favourite beaches? I could scarcely believe it. It seemed nothing short of surreal.

I was still on course to make it back to Cardiff Bay on the date that I had in my mind. The adventure was almost over.

149. Southgate – Baglan

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.

But then….

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.

148. Horton – Southgate

148. Horton – Southgate


Distance: 10.3 miles

Max Altitude: 83 m

Min Altitude: 2 m

Height Gain: 358 m

Height Loss: 308 m

Today I was joined on my walk by a friend of mine, Becca. Two and a half years ago we had tackled the Inca Trail together. So I was delighted to be walking alongside her once more, though this time at lower altitude and much closer to home. We had a lot of catching up to do so naturally we talked so much at the beginning of the walk that we missed the waymark directing us off the beach and onto the Wales Coast Path. When we did rediscover the waymark, somebody had balanced this Edvard Munch-esque stone on top. Apt.

We walked past some big and expensive looking homes. The owner of one was in his garden and invited us  in to take photos from his lawn. He was very proud of his garden so it would have been rude not to.

We continued along the trail. In a while we spotted a rope lying across the path and dangling over the edge of the cliff.

Naturally we had to investigate in the hope of discovering a smuggler’s cache or pirate’s gold…

But the only thing we discovered was the view. Lovely isn’t it?

There has been a lot of coastal erosion on this section of the path.

We noticed this discarded child’s dummy hanging on a plant.

But there was worse to come. In the distance we spotted a huge white object. When we got closer we saw that it was a huge pile of rubbish bags, just heaped up on the shore line. We were both disgusted. The amount of rubbish I see on a daily basis on our coastline is nothing less than a disgrace.

Anyway, after rounding the headland, we ended up in the thick of Oxwich Woods where the trail became a punishing series of climbs up never ending steps. Back in 2013 I walked between Port Eynon and the Mumbles during a day’s hike, and it’s funny how I had forgotten how hard this section is. Or maybe I had just blocked it out of my mind…(!)

Huffing and puffing, moaning and ranting, we ended up in Oxwich and made a beeline for the beachside cafe. It was open. Apparently.

The shop next door was open too.

Disheartened, we headed for the swanky Oxwich Bay Hotel for lunch instead. We walked in and were given a frosty reception by the waitress. Maybe it was because we were in our hiking gear rather than our ballgowns at 12pm. Looking around, it didn’t look like they got a lot of passing backpacking trade, but nonetheless, we were there to eat.

“Yes, girls?”, was the welcome we got. Staggered by her greeting, I held my hands up in an ‘are you kidding me?’ way.

“Oh you want a table?”, she responded, as though she thought we were there to clean the guttering rather than have lunch.

Begrudgingly, she showed us to a table and we ordered food. It was delicious and that the fact that we were getting dirty looks from for our attire didn’t diminish the taste one bit. In fact, it made it even better. So good in fact, that we indulged in our lunch for two whole hours. Easily, the longest lunch I’ve had on my travels.

By the time we got back on the trail, we were stuffed to the gills. But we had a beautiful beach stroll ahead to get rid of the bloated feeling.

What we hadn’t considered was that the tide was coming in while we were gorging ourselves. By the time we got to the eastern end of Oxwich Bay, we had no choice but to ascend up through the dunes of Oxwich Burrows to the top of the headland rather than just strolling around on the sand. We huffed and puffed through sinking sand once more.

Here was the prize when we got to the top.

We descended to Three Cliffs Bay where we walked through woodland and next to the tidal creek.

Pennard Pill has 26 stepping stones across it for walkers to get to the other side.

And neither of us fell in.

In the distance was the stunning Pennard Castle, built in the early 12th century during the Norman invasion of Wales. It now lies in the grounds of Pennard Golf Course.

What stunning scenery……and we didn’t look too bad either!

Another ascent to the top of the cliff gave us a view of where we had come from during the day. It was quite a distance.

Our day ended in Southgate. It had been so wonderful to have company during the day and to have a long chat and catch up with an old friend. Diolch, Becca.

147. Rhossili – Horton

147. Rhossili – Horton


Distance: 7.89 miles

Max Altitude: 80 m

Min Altitude: 6 m

Height Gain: 184 m

Height Loss: 249 m


The weather was not as kind to me as it had been during the previous days. It was a damp and claggy morning on the Wales Coast Path. But I couldn’t complain. I had had the most incredible few days of sunshine and blue skies.

With my jacket zipped up I began walking in high winds above Rhossili Bay.

To my right a blue sky was attempting to pop out from beneath the clouds, but to my left it was a different story.

Ahead of me was Worm’s Head. I had always thought it had been named thus for obvious reasons. However, following further investigation, it seems that I was wrong. It was named ‘wurm’ which meant ‘dragon’ by Viking invaders. You can see why. It’s actually a tidal island. I considered walking closer to it but thought it better to return in finer weather.

The National Coastwatch Institution occupies a former Coastguard station at the tip.

I continued. Unlike yesterday, today’s terrain was far more challenging. It amazes me that people I talk to often assume that I am walking on an actual path, sculpted, smooth and made of tarmac! The reality looks more like this most days –

There were quite a few people at Rhossili and many had walked down to Worm’s Head too. But by the time I rounded the headland I was alone once more. 

Mewslade Bay and Fall Bay were deserted.

Rays of sunshine were attempting to break through but without much luck.

The stunning sight of Overton Mere lay ahead, together with a treacherous descent to reach it. 

I wasn’t far from Port Eynon and would just have to round the headland (after another ascent!) to get there. 

Overton Mere was like a lunar landscape. This bay has a reputation for having caves which are perfect for hiding caches and contraband. I didn’t go hunting but maybe I should have. 

I left Overton Mere behind and headed up towards Port Eynon Point, all the time looking back in wonderment. By now the blue sky was beginning to win through.

A monument stands at the tip of Port Eynon Point. It stands as a testament to the founding of the Gower Society who helped preserve these cliffs for the nation. 

What a wonderful and fitting tribute.

And with that, I was almost in Port Eynon itself. 

A lifeboat station was established here in 1884, after the locals of the village watched helplessly as a steamship called the ‘Agnes Jack’ was stricken on nearby rocks and all its crew drowned. The lifeboat station looked after this stretch of the Gower coast for years until a tragedy in 1916. During a rescue attempt in gale force winds at nearby Oxwich, the lifeboat was capsized twice by enormous waves and three lifeboat crew members drowned. The RNLI decided that it was therefore too dangerous for villagers to attempt rescues in such treacherous conditions and the lifeboat station was closed.

There is now a lifeboat station in Horton due to the increase in tourists, some of whom get into danger in the water.

I had an ice cream in Port Eynon and continued on through the dunes towards Horton where I finished my walk for the day. 

My ankle was huge. Tramping across uneven surfaces all day had taken their toll. Ice and elevation was how I spent the rest of my evening.

145. Crofty – Rhossili

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.

144. Porth Tywyn (Burry Port) – Crofty

144. Porth Tywyn (Burry Port) – Crofty


Distance: 18.5 miles

Max Altitude: 41 m

Min Altitude: 4 m

Height Gain: 223 m

Height Loss: 225 m

I had decided before leaving Porth Tywyn (Burry Port) that I would visit the Amelia Earhart memorial. As a trailblazing adventurer, she’s among my list of personal heroes. But why is there a tribute here? Well, when she became the first female to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air, Amelia Earhart landed slap bang in Burry Port. Indeed, on the 18th of June 1928, aviation history was created when a small red seaplane with the word ‘Friendship’ written on its fuselage, was spotted flying over the town. The plane gradually descended and landed in the Burry estuary. Earhart and her two flying companions had set off from Newfoundland 20 hours and 40 minutes earlier. Of course, there was much excitement in the local area at this news and the seaplane was escorted into the harbour accompanied by a flotilla of small boats. Hundreds of well wishers had rushed to the dockside to greet the pioneering aviators. The entire story of the flight and the subsequent landing here is a fascinating one.

I set off from the harbour and there too was a memorial to Amelia Earhart.

There are always numerous things to photograph in a harbour. This one was no exception.

Also on display at harbourside is the remains of a World War Two bomb which was found washed up on the beach nearby last year.

I continued along the Wales Coast Path leaving the chubby Burry Port lighthouse behind me.

Ahead of me lay the county of Abertawe (Swansea) and Gŵyr (Gower). I couldn’t have asked for a better walking day. Once again I was tremendously lucky to be hiking under sunshine and a blue sky.

I was on the stretch of the Wales Coast Path known as the Millennium Coastal Park. It’s hard to believe that on this very area once stood the huge beast of Carmarthen Bay Power Station. It occupied 220 acres having been built in 1947. It employed around 500 people and its three stacks could be seen for miles. It shut down in 1984 and was demolished in the early 1990s.

A project was then undertaken to transform the industrial wasteland left behind into something beautiful. The result was the Millennium Coastal Park, including the 22 kilometres of coastline along the Llwchwr estuary between Burry Port and Llanelli. What a success it is.

And glorious it is too.

It’s incredible to think that this area was nothing but ash and industrial detritus.

The railway line runs alongside it too.

I couldn’t resist crossing the line to get a look at the view.

I could include dozens of photos of the view, in fact.

Passing the dock area of Llanelli, I walked beside the Machynys golf course. I’ve walked past a whole host of golf courses on my travels but not one that’s been designed by Jack Nicklaus. Mind you, it could be designed by the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci and it wouldn’t mean anything to me. Golf really isn’t my bag.

I was more interested in the Llanelli Wetland Centre and was sorry that I didn’t have time to explore further. If it’s half as good as the Newport Wetlands Reserve then it’s a winner. Another time.

The marshland became more and more prominent beside me. I was heading up the Llwchwr estuary.

Having walked through some industrial and residential areas, I ended up alongside the Pont Llwchwr, which connects Llanelli with Swansea.

The road bridge runs alongside the railway bridge.

A permanent bridge linking Casllwchwr (Loughor) and Llanelli was first constructed here in 1923. Evidence of the original bridge can still be seen too.

The Wales Coast Path then took a rather convoluted, but unavoidable, route to get onto the Gower, through streets and along roads. I walked on the pavement until I arrived in Penclawdd. This is a village famous for its cockles (and my worst nightmare….bad memories of my family boiling them in a huge pot on the fire and me gagging at the stench!). I wasn’t thinking about molluscs but rather the view over the marsh.

The sun was setting but I still had energy in me for some reason. Ok, I admit to a few coffees and ice creams en route! I had also managed to successfully ignore my feet for the day (who says caffeine and sugar is bad for you?!). So I decided to continue onwards to Crofty while the going was good. I walked along the road until I arrived in failing light.

The weather, the views and the surface had made this day a perfect walking day.

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