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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