At some ungodly hour of the early morning, Rufus slumped down beside me on the bed. He likes comfort, so he snuggled in. Since his haircut, he’s been much more settled, probably because he doesn’t get too hot. So now he can sleep where he really wants to.
Some hours later, I was woken by a damp nose snuffling against my hand. It was time to get up. It was okay, though as it was 6.30 and we’d both had a bit of a lie in.
After breakfast, we set off for Whiteford bay. This is a gorgeous sweeping beach near Llanmadoc on Gower. It is harder to get to than the more popular beaches around, so it’s rare that we see more than two or three people there. Today was no exception. We had the beach to ourselves. The sun was low but warm, making the sand golden. We climbed the little outcrop called Cwm Ivy Tor – a mere 29m above sea level, but a very sharp, steep climb. I’ve used it as a test of fitness in the past. I was pleased to find I took it in my stride today despite a backpack full of water as weights. Rufus, of course, barely noticed it. The view from the top along Whiteford bay was wonderful.
Coming down was almost as hard as going up, the steepness made it slippery and took its toll on my knees. But soon we were walking along the beach. The tide was close to its highest point and there was quite a swell. This bay has a shelf that holds the tide back for a while but once the sea level has risen, the tide races in. The first time I saw this happen, back in 2007, it took be by surprise and I’m very careful there now.
Although the sun shone at our backs, there was a very large and very dark cloud making its way towards us. I could see the rain falling as a dark curtain blocking the horizon. So I headed for a small copse of trees just off the beach to try and get some shelter. Just before we reached it, the heavens opened and we were caught in a heavy shower of hailstones. The trees didn’t really provide much shelter but it was better than nothing. As quickly as it started, the hail stopped and for the rest of the walk we were lightly sprayed now and again by drizzle, but most of the time it remained sunny.
We walked through the trees and alongside the sea marsh before emerging at the end of the headland to see a danger sign ahead. This whole area was a firing range during world war 2 and was mainly used as an air to ground range for rockets and guns for the squadrons based at RAF Fairwood Common’s Armament Practice Camp. Several years ago, I found the complete remains, in shrapnel form, of a medium sized artillery round. More recently, a mustard gas shell was found and disposed of in the area. So we are careful.
After barks had been barked and stones thrown, we headed back along the beach. The tide was racing and swirling at the headland, which points towards Whiteford Lighthouse, but it was on it’s way out and by the time we’d reached the Cwm Ivy Tor again, it was several hundred yards offshore.
We met the first people of the morning as we walked back to the car park. It’s so much better to have an entire beach to yourself!