Rufus and Dave’s Fortnight of Fun part 4: Old haunts

Give me the keyboard Dave.

But it’s my turn, Rufus.

But you’ll just go on about the car again.

No I won’t. Anyway, have you seen it? It’s red, you know.

*sigh* I know. Hey, Dave, I think someone is touching it.

*woosh*

Right, now Dave’s out of the way, let me tell you about this morning. After yesterday’s hill walk, we were both tired and we both had a lie in. I only woke Dave once to go out and then we both slept on until 7.30. After a breakfast of chicken and vegetables in a ragout sauce (I know, but I’m worth it), and scones for Dave, we set out for Gower. I knew we were going to Rhossili, because Dave muttered something about the longest drive in Gower. Anyway, we parked in the church car park – he prefers to give the parking money to the upkeep of the church. Then we set off. But this time, instead of the climb up onto Rhossili Down, we headed in the opposite direction towards Worm’s Head. I was glad as it was quite hot this morning, despite my new, sleek look.

There were lots of sheep around, and the cliff edge is quite crumbly so I like to keep Dave on the lead for this part of the walk. He tends to wander off with his camera to his eye and who knows where he’d end up in his quest for the perfect photo if I didn’t keep him under control. By the way, he’s been on that quest for 35 years now, but I’m too kind to mention it to him. The Worm was lit up by the soft morning sun and behind it, dark clouds made it stand out. Inevitably, he took pictures of it.

Once we were away from the cliff, I let Dave off the lead and we made our way around to Fall Bay. We haven’t been here for ages so it was nice to go back to an old haunt. The tide was in and it looked as if the cliff path was falling away in patches, so we went down to the rocks in front of us. It was nice to dip my paws in the sea and cool off, and not have great strands of soaking wet fur hanging off them afterwards. I had to remind Dave to throw me stones but he got the message and I managed to retrieve most of them from the surf.

I could see the signs of fatigue in the way Dave was walking, so I decided we should head back to the car. Of course, I did it with such subtlety that Dave thought it was his idea; it’s easier that way. As we walked back we met lots of older people taking a morning stroll to see the Worm. It seemed as if they’d all come from some kind of coach trip, although they were in pairs rather than all together.

As we neared the car park, Dave’s face lit up in a sickly, familiar way and I hopped in the back while he made excuses to walk around the car. I may even have sighed.

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Tor

Many years ago, when the world was in black and white, I went to University in London. In the summer holidays, when all my mates and I came home to get our folks to do our washing, we’d often head off to the pub or the beach. Our favourite beach was Tor, near Three Cliffs in Gower. From the small car park, a path led down to the beach. The past part was quite steep and sandy. At several points during the day, one of us would have to walk back up the path to the little shop at the car park for ice cream, drinks and/or snacks. That drag up the sandy hill was tough in the heat of summer. I still remember it years later.

I’ve been there a few times since and the steep hill has become easier as I’ve become fitter. Nevertheless, I always think of the sweaty, tiring walk from way back when summers had sun.

This morning, Rufus and I decided to head down there. The little car park was empty and the sun was just rising over the horizon as we left the car. Water trickled down the path from the recently thawed snow and a wind blew up from the sea, channeled along the path by high hedges either side.

We got to the steep bit and, as always, it wasn’t as steep as I remembered.  Worn rock showed where countless feet had tramped down and back up again. The last part was sand, and Rufus tore off at speed when he realised there was a beach up ahead.

The surf was high. Wind stirred the sea and drove it against the rocks in a succession of crashing and dashing waves. Spray formed foam which blew across the sand and tempted Rufus to chase it. But he was more interested in the stick I had found. He knew it would be thrown. He barked to let me know he knew.

He did a lot of running on the beach. I love to see him sprint off after a stone or stick. He has so much energy and has no concept of saving some of it for later. My right arm wore out before he did and after a while, we headed back up the not-quite-so-steep-as-I-remember hill. We circled around the cliffs above the beach. It was very windy and we were both buffeted as we made our way around to overlook Three Cliffs. This part of Gower has a wealth of history associated with it. We passed through the remains of an Iron Age fort and close by a Neolithic burial tomb. Overlooking Three Cliffs is the ruins of Pennard Castle, and near the drop to Tor is a large lime kiln.

After our busy weekend, we were both tired and back home, the sofa beckoned.

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Walking off the turkey

Rufus and I, having celebrated Christmas with the traditional mound of food followed by more food that couldn’t be fitted on the first plate, felt we needed to walk off the calories with a stroll on the beach. It was a lovely day and many people had the same idea. Unfortunately, many of them chose to head in the same direction as us. These people clearly only drove once a year and so we found ourselves in a queue of traffic travelling at 20mph.

To try and counter this, we headed to a more isolated beach, Fall Bay near Rhossili. But to confound the masses of once-a-year walkers, we parked away from the village and walked along the coastal path. Sure enough, we had the path pretty much to ourselves, with only a few intrepid souls making the detour off the well worn and very muddy path. The wind was up, the waves were crashing onto the shore and the sun was shining.

I stopped to take photos along the way and I had to keep Ru8fus on the lead near the edge of the cliffs as he was was in danger of being blown over the edge, so strong was the wind. But eventually, we made it to the beach and without a word from me, Rufus dashed off towards the surf. While I snapped away at the waves and the surfers, Rufus dived in and out of the water. I threw driftwood for him and he chased them enthusiastically. It was a gorgeous afternoon and we enjoyed the rare sun. Although the wind was strong, it wasn’t cold. It whipped the tops of the waves up into a spray and dashed the water against the rocks all along the coast.

It only started getting cold when the sun disappeared behind some thin cloud, so we decided to head back to the car. The mud that was inconvenient on the way up tot he cliffs was now slippery and almost impassable on the way back down. I nearly went over several times and managed to strain a leg muscle as my leg went from under me. But eventually, we both made it back to the car.

Back in the house, two tired walkers spent the evening watching TV and eating more food, that will have to be walked off again.

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More Holiday

As part of his holiday (but I’m not sure what his holiday is from), Rufus has been staying with me so that we can get out and about early. Over the last few days, we’ve been on mountains, on beaches and for long walks in between.

Fan Nedd is a favourite and has featured here before. It’s a short hill, less than a mile from car to top, but it has a number of extensions we can add, including a long one to Fan Gyhirych. This time we were content with walking along the ridge and past the trig point until the ground started to drop away again on the far side. In all, we managed about 2.7 miles. Compare that with the 42 miles a walker we met was doing for charity and it pales into insignificance but it was enough for us.

Cefn Bryn needs no introduction, and on Friday, we walked the whole length of the ridge until we were overlooking Three Cliffs and Penmaen on the coast. It was windy but not cold and the views from the top down to the sea were beautiful. It reminded me that I hadn’t been to Three Cliffs for ages. When I was in college, a bunch of friends and I would meet up during the summer holidays and head off to Penmaen and Tor Bay, just to to the right of Three Cliffs. We’d spend the day on the beach and every so often, one person would have to walk back up to the car park where a little shop sold ice cream and cold drinks. It was a hard slog up dunes before a long walk along a hot path to the shop. It’s still a  great memory, though.

On Saturday, we went down to Three Cliffs and Penmaen very early in the morning. Still we didn’t have it to ourselves. A sea fisherman was casting into the incoming tide. I couldn’t see if he was catching anything. Joggers passed us by and one or two local dog walkers shared the beach. Beneath Pennard Castle, we saw cows making their way down the dunes to the river. It was a warm morning and pleasant walking along the beach. But eventually, we had to make our way back up the dunes and that was hard going. At the top, I made a detour to visit the remains of an Iron Age fort on the headland overlooking the cliffs. All that remains now are earth banks with a gap between them, but they are still quite impressive and give an idea of what it must have looked like in the past. Much of the interior has eroded way so its not clear how big it would have been.

Beyond the fort is a chambered burial tomb that would have been there long before the walls and ditched of the defensive structure were built. But it might have influenced it’s placement; the area was clearly important to the early inhabitants of Gower. Now all that it left of the tomb is a massive collapsed capstone and the uprights that would have supported it. Two stones set at right angles to the line of the monument form an entrance portal and there are two more stones that seem to form a short passage outside the tomb.

Then it was back to the car and home for second breakfast.

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