Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Gower Peninsula- Wales

The journey from Blackpool to Wales began late due to ages sorting the piles of stuff we had collected along the way and haphazardly stuffed in the boot (The hotel guests thought we were nutters with our bags of rock, fishing tackle and extensive tea-towel collection sprawled out across the car park!). Instead of doing the whole five hour plus journey at once we decided to break it up with an overnight stop in Herefordshire. The hotel in Hereford was nothing to write home about and we would definitely have stayed in one of the Woodland Tipis (or yurts) nearby instead if we could have stretched to their two night minimum.

Just the thought of another cooked breakfast in the morning made us feel full. By this point in the week it was definitely diet o'clock so we made a swift exit. We took the scenic route down through the Brecon Beacons passing the turning for Abergavenny where the Green Man Festival takes place this weekend: 'Cradled in a beautiful valley, the Green Man Festival is an indie-folk fairyland where antler-wearing Druids lead processions of children past wishing trees' (2008 Observer review by Tamzin Lewis). The Druids have even blessed the sight this year so that it won't rain (if you are one of the lucky ones to have a golden ticket, i'd pack your wellies just in case...). After the Tom Tom trying to drive us into rivers and freaking out about new roads it wasn't aware of, we finally arrived at Pilton Moors to drop off our stuff. Having booked their converted shepherd's hut, complete with a wood-burning stove, us two city girls were pretty over-excited about this back-to-nature adventure.

We spent the afternoon exploring the AMAZING surely-can't-be-British beaches. Three Cliff's Bay has been rated one of the top ten places in Britain to watch the sunset (Worm's Head in Rhossilli not far behind). We ran into the sea, lay on the powdered white sand for a bit and then went and collected wild marsh samphire. On our trek back up to the car we also munched quite a few blackberries. They didn't feel so great swimming around our bellies along with the salty samphire when we were reminded by massive horse poos that we only had fifteen minutes to make our hack at nearby Clyne Farm and had to peg it up the steep hill (REALLY glad we skipped the full-English). My first memory of horse riding was when I was nine. The horse got scared of some pigs and bolted back to the stables, going straight through bushes; low branches smashing me in the face. My second experience was a long horse-riding trek on the beach and through the rainforest in Dominican Republic, bareback, only having the bolting experience to draw from. Anna somehow managed to convince me it was a good idea though and thankfully it was third time lucky. The horses were calm and well trained and the view from Mumbles (we cracked up when we found Mumbles means breasts in English) was the best. We could see right across the Gower, out to sea and over to Swansea. There are other riding schools but this is particularly good because you are so high up. For more experienced riders you can go on day-long hacks down to the beach too (hence the poo on the paths). They also have tipis you can rent at the farm and various other activities if you feel like being a hunter-gatherer sort.

Before dinner at Fairyhill (great award winning food, mainly locally sourced but mainly full of quiet couples much to our disappointment, or theirs to our arrival?! Although the staff were very friendly) we just had time to check out Mewkslade and watch the sun go down at Worm's Head. Mewkslade is only a beach when the tide is out. On the walk down, there were hundreds of rabbits hopping about and we were the only ones to see the waves crashing against the rocks at this time. If you visit the Gower in Autumn apparently there is hardly anyone around and you can can often have the beautiful beaches to yourself. Pretty. Damn. Cool.

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