South Wales Complete! Next Up: The Gower…

ARHGHGH the computer just crashed and deleted the blog post I was just writing and I didn’t save the draft. Agh I hate technology. Okay so this might not be as fun as my first draft was, as now I’m pissed off about having to rewrite everything, haha! Brb, Just going to go and cry.

Alrighty roo – deep breaths, and an update for you.

This last week I have completed the approx 120 miles of the South Wales Coast Path, as well as making a 13 mile start on the Gower. This means that I’m over 1/10th of my way through the journey… I’m feeling that this walk might actually be doable!

My ankle is feeling much better now, I still have pain there but usually only when I’m walking too fast, walking on a steep downhill slope, or walking for a long time on concrete. However, I now have 6/7 blisters. Versuvius has become dormant, but I have two nasty ones: one on my inner left heel which is huuuuge and painful (named Stomboli), and one on a toe which looks like it’s several blisters on one blister (named Kraka’toe’a – excuse the terrible pun). I won’t gross you out with photos.

I’m taking a rest/prep day today, before I finally start camping and lugging my huge monster of a backpack around the rest of the Gower with me. I’ve made a tupperware full of a breakfast mix (oats, chia seeds and flaxseed), and I’ve been double checking to see if there is anything I can lose to make my backpack a bit lighter, as well as deep conditioning my hair which is getting bleached and dried out by the sun.

Day 10

The first day back walking was from Barry to Llantwit Major. My mum and I got off the train in Barry and started walking! After taking 4 rest days off for my ankle to have a chance to heal, our calves were massively cramping! They must have seized up a bit, and they took quite a bit longer than usual to warm up. We walked past Barry and on top of cliffs overlooking pebbly beaches. The path took us to Rhoose Point, the most southerly tip of Wales, where they have created a nice stone circle monument.

Rhoose Point

The weather then became lovely which was a nice surprise. Found some fossils on the beach (half an ammonite and a devil’s toenail) and walked through caravan parks. The path by Gileston had been renegotiated I guess, and we could carry walking along the beach instead of taking the inland detour – score. Walked past Aberthaw Power Station, one of the many power stations on the South Wales Coast Path.

Pebbly beach just past Aberthaw Power Station

A little further on, we saw two other hikers, the first other hikers we encountered that day… they got closer and we said ‘hi’, and the woman started taking her sunglasses off and starting at me weirdly… then I realised it was an old school friend of mine, Sam! What a coincidence! So nice to see her and her partner, after so many years.

Bumping into Sam, an old school friend!

It wasn’t long after this that we came to our destination for the day: Col-huw beach near Llantwit Major. We had a cuppa at the beach cafe, then managed to hitch a lift to Llantwit station with a lovely man and his daughter, who had had a bad experience on the coast path with a Seagull eating his long anticipated Chinese takeaway.

Day 11

The weather was AWFUL today! My mum decided to take the car, and she would hop along the coast and meet me at various intervals. Wearing an entirely waterproof outfit, we set off from our finishing point yesterday. At first the weather was rainy, but not too windy, and visibility wasn’t too bad. The coastal path here was the first proper hilly section we encountered, and there were lots of stone bunkers peppered along the clifftops. My mum walked with me until St Donat’s (a site I recognised from attending the ‘Beyond the Border’ festival there around three years ago), then we parted ways. The woodland looked so green here, and felt quite rainforest like with the sound of the rain and the humidity. I walked through empty fields, and past the lighthouse at Nash Point, where my mum had planned to meet me, much faster than I anticipated.

The cafe was closed, so I had to wait outside in the elements. I had zero phone signal here, and after 30 mins I was freezing cold and wondering where my mother could be. The wind began to blow a gale and the rain started to hammer down sideways – and fog had begun to shroud my surroundings. I finally had a blip of phone signal to receive a message from my mum saying she couldn’t find Nash Point in the fog, so continued on and parked at Southerndown. I was gutted to have been standing in the freezing wind and rain and having wasted half an hour. I braced myself, put my soggy rucksack back on and walked my chilly ass down into the muddy valley.

From here, there were many steep slopes covered in slippery mud, strong winds blowing directly at me. The cliff tops and the next field were all hidden in thick fog. I walked up one steep slope, in Cwm Nash I think, and every step I took my boots gathered more mud until it was an inch or so thick, making it very heavy to walk up the hill. It was still beautiful and exciting in a wild kind of way. I would never be crazy enough normally to go out walking in this kind of weather, but the nature of a walk like this is that you HAVE to, especially in a country like Wales where the weather is often far from ideal. There was another walker out obviously as crazy as me, and we must have been walking at a similar pace, as he was always at the edge of the fog line in front of me – I could just about make out his dark silhouette.

After a few miles of this, the man stopped to talk to a walker from the opposite direction, and as I got closer realised it was my mum. So I gave her a wave and we resumed our journey.

Reunited and very wet.

We went down into a little wooded valley and mam pulled out a thermos flask, so we both sat down and drank some warm tea and ate half a twix. When we reached Dunraven Bay, we walked through the walled garden there, and there was a t.v crew for the show ‘A Discovery of Witches’ having a look at it. I’ve not seen that series, but I’ll have to see if I can spot Dunraven Bay in the next season. Quite an apt place for them to be filming, as the headland there is called ‘Trwyn-Y-Witch’. Mam got back in the car and drove to Ogmore, and I continued walking along the coast. 15/20 mins or so later, we reached the car and drove home.

Walled garden in Dunraven Bay

Day 12

I didn’t have high hopes for this section of the day, but it turned out to be much prettier than I had expected!

My dad dropped us off in Bridgend on his way to work, but we realised there was not a bus stop nearby. So we managed to hitch a lift to Ogmore from a lovely lady named Sarah, who was off to tend to her horse. We got to Ogmore Castle, then spent 15 mins having a look around. Then we walked on the stepping stones over the river after watching a child nearly fall in on the other side.

Stepping stones over the river Ewenny by Ogmore Castle

Walked through the pretty village of Merthyr Mawr, then down into the warrens. I used to come here a lot as a child – my grandparents had a camper van and we would come and play rounders here and toboggan down the dunes. We made our way down the estuary to the beach, only to realise the tide was low enough that we could have just walked straight from Ogmore, saving probably around 2 miles! Nevermind. With Porthcawl the other side of the bay, we walked along the wet sand to get there. Whilst passing through Trecco Bay, we called in to say hi to my University friend Arran, who was on lifeguard duty. So good to see you Arran!

Gah my computer crashed again, but luckily I saved it to this point! F*ck you technology.

We then walked to the pier and treated ourselves to pizza! After walking past Rest Bay, there was a lovely boardwalk path which was very nice for my achy feet and joints! We saw a very pregnant Lizard, the first wild one I’ve ever seen in the UK! We also passed lots of cows and Sker House in the distance.

Preggers Lizard
Sker House

Kenfig sands then reached out miles ahead of us, and we decided to take off our shoes to relieve our feet. It felt so fresh and freeing: walking on the exquisitely ticklish sand and paddling in the chilly surf, but as we started walking my feet began to cramp and ache. I guess my feet are only used to walking long distances in boots at the moment!

Barefoot on the sand

We sat down and had a break, then continued walking along the sand until the river came out into the sea, very close to the steelworks. The path led us inland, where a newly negotiated route allowed us to walk through the dunes via a new bridge, rather than take a detour inland through Pyle.

New Coast Path Bridge through the dunes

However, the signposting was quite ambiguous around here, and we took a wrong turn, leading us up onto a dune/cliff. We could see the coastal path below, but it was too steep to get to. Everntually we found a steep sandy hill, and we slid down on our bums (which was pretty fun).

Mam sliding back down onto the correct path!

After this, the end of the day lead us out through a soft path through the dunes, then through a series of level crossings and a train yard (which looked like something out of an old movie), and we ended on a concrete lane and roadsides as we walked into Port Talbot itself. The days here always seem to end on concrete!

Day 13

Got the train back in t o Port Talbot, and I was joined today by my friend Will! It was a little confusing coming out of Port Talbot, but we managed. It was nice to get out of the urban area and reach Aberavon Sands. Walked miles down the beach, then cut inland when the beach ran out. Walked around yet another Power Station ( I’ve lost count) and ate lunch whilst we were still in the dunes.

Walked along a road/bridge that was close to another bridge containing a section of the M4, and this went on for a few miles. Came to a flooded underpass that we had to paddle through (thankfully these boots are waterproof!).

Will assessing the flooding

Got to the Tennant Canal on the approach to Swansea which was full of wildlife. So nice to catch up with Will after so long! We then came into more urban areas and concrete which made my ankle hurt a bit, especially as we were walking a bit faster as Will was setting a slightly faster pace on his fresh legs! Got to Swansea Marina which was much prettier than I expected! Walked to the train station from here, passing through a cafe where Will had a very strange slab of watermelon cake (I was not convinced!).

Swansea Marina

Day 14

As it was a Saturday, my mum, dad and youngest sister decided to join me today! We started along the Marina, then onto the sands. My mum was shocked that such a lovely beach had no cafes along it and that Swansea weren’t making more out of such a lovely beach! I think this really upset her as she talked about it until we passed that section of the beach, haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We made a two minute rule where you’re allowed to complain about something, but only for two minutes, so we don’t end up complaining about the same thing for half an hour. I sometimes let her have 5 minutes though.

My family joined for a day’s walking

The beach then became very peaty/muddy and there was a 4000+ year old fossilised forest on the beach (my father is a geologist so I had many geology lessons on this day). Ambled on the muddy beach for 4 or so miles, during this time my dad went back to fetch the car to meet us at Mumbles. We all met up in the Mermaid Cafe and ate lunch – the staff were suuuper friendly in there by the way and the food was good – in case you’re ever in the area. They even let me walk barefoot through the restaurant as my shoes were so muddy.

At the end of Mumbles Pier, we found a Geocache (Non, my sister is really into finding them now after I accidentally found one when we were walking in the Preseli’s), and then we enjoyed the light blue pastel colour of the pier and the view of the lighthouse.

Mumbles Pier
Looking back over to Swansea
Non fitting in with the pastel decor

Mam and I continued around the coast path whilst Non and my dad went to Oystermouth Castle. It became so scorching hot in this section! I was sweating like a mad man. Pretty scenery though, the lighthouse looked very nice from lots of angles! However, this was probably the most busy and touristy section so far, probably also due to the fact it was a Saturday and the weather was really hot. Was very cute with all the beach huts coming in to Langland (?) bay – there was one old couple sitting in their deck chairs eating icecream, and they had old fashioned clothes and sunhats and she was wearing her pearls. So cute.

Lighthouse off Mumbles Pier
Seaside foxgloves
Cute beach huts

Made it to Caswell Bay, beach was packed, they were all squeezed onto a little patch of sand as the tide was coming in. Met Non and Daddy there, and Mam switched over with him. Me and my dad walked from Caswell Bay to Pennard cliffs together, coming across the steepest terrain I’ve walked on the coast so far! So many painful downhill walks, I much preferred the uphill bits, steep downhill slopes really hurt my ankle! There was also a sign post that had fallen down, so we briefly took a wrong turn – only to come to a dead end a short while later. A nearly got trampled on by an angry mother cow (her two babies came up to us as they were curious), and when we reached the top of Pwlldu head, my Dad found a nice big lump of carniferous Coral, which he was very happy about.

My dad with his lump of Carniferous Coral.

On our way back down towards Pennard, we had a territorial Chough shouting at us, we must have been near it’s nest, but it was very angry. Met up with Mam and Non at the car park and we drove home, but not before catching sight of the Pennard Bull who wanders around like he owns the place.

Day 15

Is today, so I’m all up to speed. Well, thanks for reading this, it’s another long one! Please if you can spare a few quid, donate to my cause The Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The link to my justgiving page is here.

That’s all for now folks!

Lots of Love,

Maya x

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