#2minutebeachclean

Check out #2minutebeachclean and #2MINUTELITTERPICK on Twitter. The premise is quite simple. Whenever you are out, take two minutes to pick up some litter. The aim is not to scour the area clean (although that would be good) but to pick up a few bits of litter to make a small difference. And let people know about it so that they can consider doing it too.

I first heard of the concept on the BBC Springwatch programme and it seemed quite straight forward. I started taking a small bin liner with me on my walks in Gower with Rufus. I’d wait until we were on our way back and pick up litter. I concentrate on recyclables as these tend to be the things that will last the longest in the landscape. I also make a point of picking up anything that might cause injury, such as broken glass, sharp edged metal and anything that wildlife could get tangled in.

Be sensible. I tend to leave anything that could be contaminated, such as tissues or any container with liquid in it. If I was doing a proper litter pick with all the right kit it would be different, but this is just helping out. Only pick up what you’re comfortable doing. Every little bit you remove makes a difference. We only have one planet, lets help keep it tidy.

Today, Rufus and I went down to Whiteford for a paddle. I made a point of taking a larger bin bag with me as I wanted to pick up a load of litter on the way back. A 30minutebeachclean. On the walk to the beach we were watched carefully by a small robin who was happy for both of us to walk close by and even posed for the camera. On the beach, I let Rufus off the lead and he went off in search of aromatic things to roll in while I snapped away at the Oystercatchers on the water’s edge.

As we walked along, the tide was coming in and the Oystercatchers were getting closer. Rufus is inquisitive and I knew he’s be off to see what they were up to. I pointed the camera at the birds and waited. Sure enough, as soon as he got close, they rose as one and I got some fine photos of Oystercatchers on the wing. We left them alone and headed inland to a point where the tide was closest to the dunes. Here I threw stones and sticks for Rufus to chase into the sea, not that he needed an excuse to paddle. I love watching him bounce around and splash in the water and although he’s not as quick as he used to be, he makes up for it by enthusiastically barking to encourage me to throw more sticks.

It was time to turn around and now was when I got my bin bag out and started to pick up other people’s litter. Very quickly, it was clear that I couldn’t manage to collect everything so I decided to prioritise plastic and my personal objects of hatred – plastic fishing line and net. Soon I had a bag full, including two beer bottles and a broken plastic spade. Unfortunately, the sharp edged plastic tore the bag and before I knew it, the bin bag had shredded. I had a dilemma. I was about 30 minutes from the car and there was no way I could carry all the rubbish back with me.

I don’t claim to be practically clever but I today had a moment of insight. Most of the rubbish was plastic fishing line and with a little re-arranging and with the aid of two of Rufus’ poo bags, I managed to truss up most of the rubbish into a package I could carry. Unfortunately, I had to leave the two beer bottles but they weren’t broken so it wasn’t a disaster. For the next half hour, I carefully carried the bundle of rubbish through the dunes and along the tree lined pathway to the car park, where there was a convenient bin to deposit it all in.

Neither of us were ready to go home so we took a little detour to Broadpool on the way back. I think the heron has taken a dislike to my blue car. When I used to park the red one next to the pool, it would hang about but as soon as it sees the blue one it’s off. We don’t chase the heron as it’s nervous enough. Instead, I watched swallows diving for insects, the Canada Geese taking a nap and the turtles still basking in the sun. I tried to get photos of the dragonflies but they were too quick for the camera to focus on.

Back home, a shower was on the cards for the one of us that was covered in salt and sand.

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A week of wanderings and weather

A week off! Not just any week off, but one that I booked at short notice. My original plan was to catch up with a mate visiting from New Zealand, but the arrangements fell through and I was left with a whole week with no plans. I like that.

In actual fact, there were several planned activities but plenty of time to fit in leisure time too. On Monday, the side window of my car was fixed swiftly by Autoglass. The rain cleared just in time for the chap to get the work done while leaving us time for a visit to Cefn Bryn. Keen eyed readers will remember that this was where the young gentleman broke in to my car. Part of dealing with the break in was to get over leaving it for the first time since Thursday. I watched my car like a hawk as we walked away from it before suddenly realising that I couldn’t let it dictate the things I would do. It disappeared as we dropped down the other side of the hill and I only allowed myself the occasional worry as we walked.

On Tuesday, Rufus went for his regular hair cut. He gets very hot in any warm weather as he’s always running around, and I try to keep his fur short. I’d noticed that he was scratching and restless and that’s normally a sign he’s too hot. Following his trim and when the day had cooled, we headed off to the hills and had a leisurely stroll around the base of Moel Feity, once again surrounded by sheep. Rufus charged around with his new found coolness while I snapped away in the gorgeous evening light.

Wednesday dawned clear and sunny and we were off at the crack of dawn to climb Moel Feity and enjoy the fantastic views from the summit. It warmed up quickly and there was a haze in the air as the approaching humid weather announced itself, but the clouds didn’t start to build until we were heading back down, when it became very warm. I spent a little time tidying up the memorial to the crashed Liberator bomber and then, as a treat for Rufus, we stopped off at the river where he paddled and swam and caught stones while cooling down.

Later, I sat outside in the night air watching the Perseid meteors light up the sky. The forecast thick cloud held off for longer than I’d expected and the weather was warm for that time of night. Rufus kept coming out to have a look, but for the most part stayed inside. He’s not keen on astronomy. I saw some bright and spectacular meteors as well as the International Space Station, several satellites and one airliner. I didn’t manage to get many good photos, though, and the following morning I regretted not staying up longer.

After a wander over the common in the morning, we watched the rain come in and I decided Thursday was Great British Bake-off day. I made apple and blackberry pies. More apple than blackberry as the crop of berries wasn’t as bountiful as I’d hoped. I ended up making 11 small pies as I didn’t quite have enough pastry for the 12th. They are rather nice, though.

That night, it was clear that Rufus was still scratching and I decided that in the morning a visit to the vets was in order to find out what was causing this and to get it sorted. The waiting room was packed out with hounds of various makes and models, most of which were quite bouncy and vocal. Rufus is always well behaved in these circumstances and I was proud of his lack of reaction when other dogs barked at him or lunged at him.

The vet had a good look over and decided that he had an ‘environmental allergy’. I asked what that could be and he described the same allergies as I have – dust and pollen. Apparently, these allergens can cause animals to have skin rashes and this is what Rufus has got. In short, Rufus has hayfever! I left the vet with several potions and the biggest tablets I have ever seen. I did wonder whether I’d have to cut them up but Rufus downed one (wrapped in chicken) with no concern. He has some eye drops, which are always a test of my patience and his escapologist skills. Every time I try to apply them, Rufus imitates a snake and wriggles out of my grasp. I went on the Internet last night and found a suggested technique which involved kneeling behind him and bringing the dropper down from above so he doesn’t see it. I managed to get one drop in his eye but he learns quickly so he won’t be so easy to fool again.

Today we went back to Whiteford, a familiar beach to those having read my blogs before. It wasn’t too warm as we set out and it always amazes me how few people go there – there were three cars in the car park, and several horses, foals and some sheep. Walking on the beach was lovely and we went out more than half a mile to the receding tide. Rufus had a paddle and chased after the Oystercatchers while I tried out a new lens I’d received that morning. By the time we got back to the car, the cool of the morning had given way to the heat of midday and we were both glad to get the air conditioner working.

Sunday is always a non-day for me and it will be tomorrow as I have to leave the freedom of a week off behind and try and get myself back into the work frame of mind. It will probably consist of cleaning, ironing and other household chores although I understand from Rufus that he is expecting another walk on the hills if the weather is ok.

<sigh> I suppose I’ll have to do what he says!

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High Tide

The tide on Whiteford beach is scary. One minute the water is so far away that I can barely make out the breakers, and the next they spray is covering my glasses with a thin coat of salt. I’ve watched it race towards the shore in a continuous roll, I’ve felt it snap at my heels as I’ve retreated from it and I’ve walked out to the lighthouse when it’s been at its lowest. The prospect of a higher than usual (I’d read it would be the highest for 18 years, which is a lunar cycle) Spring tide this morning eased the decision on where to take Rufus for his weekend walk.

We left the house in the dark and reached the car park near Cwm Ivy before the sun had come up. By the time we’d walked through the woods and onto the beach, a beautiful morning was shaping up. The sea was choppy and the tide was fully in. It was the highest I’ve ever seen there, with the waves undercutting of the dunes in places. We walked along a narrow strip of sand between dune and sea until the waves barred the way, when we climbed up onto the tops of the dunes and made our way across the headland to the opposite side.

Out of the wind it was warm as the sun rose, not like a February morning at all. Walking in sand is tiring but great exercise and we had plenty of that as we made our way to the tip of the headland. Once out of the shelter, the wind picked up again and it was time to don gloves and hat and do up the coat. Rufus, with his permanent fur coat was happy to have a cooling breeze again.

We’d spent less than an hour in the dunes but already the tide had receded significantly. The lighthouse was still surrounded by the sea and on its metal skeleton, cormorants perched, warming in the sun. On the beach, lapwings and sandpipers scurried to and fro with the incoming and outgoing waves. As we walked back along the beach, a huge flock of sandpipers flew low over the sea. There must have been more than 100 of them flying parallel to the shore.

There was a lot of rubbish on the high water mark; most of it seemed to be plastic and I wished I’d brought a bag to put it in. I grabbed a tangle of plastic fishing line, which I brought home to dispose of. I’ve seen first hand what that can do and it’s not pleasant. One of the items washed up was an old football. It seemed to be a decent one, with stitched panels, and there was no sign of damage. It was just a little deflated (well, you would be too if you’d been abandoned on the beach). I kicked it, Rufus chased it and there followed a new form of football; one in which use of the mouth was allowed. I tried explaining to Rufus the rules of the game, but he just ran off and dared me to get the ball off him. He carried the ball for quite a while – unusual for him – and only dropped it when lured by the tempting aroma of some long dead aquatic creature. So I brought it home and it’s now in the back garden.

By now, the tide had all but disappeared and where earlier we were hugging the sand dunes, now we were able to range across the sand. But somehow, we’d done more than 5 miles, so it was time to head back to the car. Wet paws collected much sand as we crossed the dunes again and soon we were on the long uphill drag to the car park. A deep puddle solved the sandy paws issue and we were both grateful to reach the car.

Snoring occurred in the car on the way home, but I would not betray our friendship by saying from whom the snoring came.

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The Seaside

Yesterday, Rufus and I went down to the seaside. We haven’t been to Whiteford for a while and the morning was nice and warm without being too hot, so it seemed like an ideal time to reacquaint ourselves. I used Whiteford a lot during the early days of my trek preparation, and I know Rufus loves the area, so it seemed like a good idea.

We walked through Cwm Ivy wood to get to the dune system. Walking through the wood reminded me of the walk through the rain forest at the start of the Kilimanjaro trek. In fact, I remember thinking the same thing during the trek and mentioned it in my journal. The 20 minutes or so we spent in the woods brought back lots of memories; the only thing missing was the sound of  Turacos calling in the tree tops.

Then, suddenly, we were through two gates and out onto the sea wall that marks the boundary between the salt marches of the Loughor Estuary and the pasture of Cwm Ivy. This had been damaged in the storms earlier this year and the path had only just been reopened. A large section of sea wall had been washed away where a stream passes beneath it; a wooden bridge had been built over the breach.

It didn’t take long to get to the dunes and I found that great parts of it had been fenced off (or in, depending on which side of the fence you were on). I think it was to control the sheep as there were fewer around that on our last visit. In the distance, I could hear the sea which meant the tide was coming in. We headed across the dunes to the beach and sure enough, there was the sea.

There followed a long session of throwing sticks and fetching sticks as we slowly made our way along the water’s edge towards Whiteford Point. The beach was ours; there wasn’t a soul around. In the far distance, on a sandbank, a flock of Oystercatchers flapped and fluttered. We got closer to them until Rufus managed to spook them and they took off in one mass, flying low over the sea to another sandbank.

Walking back through the dunes, I heard the sound of aircraft and spotted a group of five planes performing aerobatics over the Loughor Estuary. It looked as if they were practising and as I watched, they looped and spun and dived with a large cumulus cloud as a backdrop. It reminded me of a painting of a Spitfire against billowing clouds.

It was getting hot as we headed back to the car, so the shade of the wood was welcome for both Rufus and me. We got back to the car having walked 5 miles and spent 3 hours in the sunshine. There was much snoring in the house in the afternoon.

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Whiteford

It was lovely out at 6 this morning. I know because my housemate, Rufus, insisted on demonstrating it to me. It was so nice that we decided to have a quick breakfast and head out for a nice walk in the sun.

At 7.30am, we were at Whiteford. The sun was up and shining although clouds partially obscured it. Nevertheless, we set off eager to wander through Cwm Ivy Wood and on to the dunes behind Whiteford beach. Alas, it was not to be. A small sign attached to the gatepost at the edge of the wood announced that the sea wall path was closed as it had been damaged in the storms we had recently. It’s a key part of the route – the difference between a circular walk and a rather short out and back sprint. So instead, we went through the village and on to the beach via Cwm Ivy Tor.

On the beach, the sun was out and busy warming up the morning. Rufus chased sticks into the sea and trotted up and down the beach. We walked without any firm direction up and down along the tide line. We met several dog walkers and a jogger and it seemed that everyone was in a good mood to match the fantastic morning. It was the longest walk we’d done since I got back from Kilimanjaro. I didn’t really want to stop as the day was so lovely. But both of us are getting on a bit now, and there were things to do at home, too. So reluctantly, we both set off back to the car.

Rufus attracted spotted a large group of walkers and he waded into a deep puddle and stood up to his belly in the cooling water as everyone walked past. Of course, people were remarking on it, and Rufus loved the attention. We strolled back tot he car and drove home.

Of course, all that sand and muddy water meant that Rufus was in need of a shower and it was the first thing we did when we got home. Despite silent protests, (he’s not keen on the idea of a shower although he’s very good while it’s happening) Rufus deposited what seemed like most of the beach into my shower and then careered around the house drying himself off on anything that would absorb water. It’s his way of getting revenge for the indignity of the ordeal of being cleaned!

We sat out in the garden for Rufus to dry off and for me to enjoy a cup of coffee. I could live like this all the time!

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If you go down to the woods…

I called around for Rufus to see if he could come out to play, and he could! A lads day out!

Dave turned up and rather than have him cry again, I agreed to take him for a walk. 

We drove down to Whiteford and parked up in the little field before heading down to Cwm Ivy wood. The mist was just clearing and through the canopy of leaves the sun just managed to shine through. The wood was quiet and peaceful and the only other living thing I saw was a pheasant, which ran across the path in front of me.

There were lots of smells and I found a dead sheep to roll in.

There were a lot of sheep around, and quite a few horses on Llanrhidian marsh but no birds other than the odd seagull. Rufus found the only water for miles around in the form of a thick, muddy drainage ditch. He dived in.

I was hot and needed to cool off. Elephants have mud baths and if it’s good enough for them it will do for me. Besides, the way Dave mutters after I emerge covered in goo is funny.

After we’d crossed the dunes, we dropped down onto the beach. The tide was way out and in the distance we could see people harvesting cockles near Whiteford lighthouse. Rufus managed to find another pool of water left over from the last high tide. As I was sending a text message, I started to hear the now familiar grunts, whines and yaps that told me I was taking too long.

Dave was spending far too long playing with the little gadget he carries around and there was a significant danger of the tide coming in and the sun setting before he’d thrown me any stones. Al I did was remind him of his responsibilities.

I threw stones for Rufus and he was happy to chase back and forth, cooling his paws as he went.

The simple things can keep Dave occupied for hours.

We headed back over the dunes, meandering between the largest of them to find the easiest route back to the woods. I was too slow to stop Rufus rolling in a large, fresh cowpat. By the time I got to him, he was covered in it.

It was so aromatic I just had to cover myself from head to toe. Dave shouted a lot and wouldn’t come near me.

We walked back to the car in near silence. All my attempts to wipe the mess off him didn’t do much good and in the end I resorted to covering it in sand in the hope it would dry it more quickly. It worked to a certain extent and I was able to use fern leaves to remove some more. But the smell remained and when we got back to the car I had to open all the windows.

Dave must have been hot as he left all the windows open as we drove home.

Of course, Rufus had to go straight into the shower when we got home. There was a lot of huffing and puffing and groaning but I have never seen as much dirt and muck come off him. It took several applications of shampoo to get rid of the worst of the smell.

But I sure looked good at the end of it.

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Weekend Training

As you may have noticed by the theme of the last few posts, I’ve stepped up my training for the trek. I have to increase the time I’m out and I have to walk with weights to prepare for carrying the back pack. Based on experience, I think my trekking back pack will weigh 5-6kg so I’m trying to regularly train with at least twice that weight, often more if I can. I feel that the heavier the load I can manage regularly, the better it will be on the day. In the hot weather we have at the moment, it’s easy to make that weight up with water.

Yesterday, Rufus and I went out to Whiteford for a stroll. As we were walking through Cwm Ivy, I spotted a signpost for a footpath we had never tried before. I thought it would be something different, and it offered us the opportunity to walk through woods for a large part of the distance which would mean cooler conditions. Even at 8.30 am the temperature was climbing and neither of us like the heat of midday.

The path through Cwm Ivy wood was undulating but shaded by trees to give a gentle, green light. It twisted and turned until it was hard to judge which direction we were heading, but every now and then I caught glimpses of the dunes and pine woods of Whiteford burrows. Eventually, we left the canopy of trees and emerged at the edge of the salt marshes where we turned left to walk along the sea wall towards the dunes. I decided to stick with the trees as much as possible, so we left the main path and headed inot the woods. There was a nice breeze between the trees and we ambled along enjoying the morning.

We popped out onto the beach at Whiteford Point. I was hoping the tide would be in for Rufus to have a paddle but it was a distant line. However, there was a large pool of seawater close in and almost as soon as I had registered it, Rufus was in it up to his knees. There followed a 30 minute splash and chase session which Rufus enjoyed so much that he even ignored a passing dog in favour of the next stone. I turned to leave; an act that was met with a frantic series of barks which reminded me that Rufus actually runs our walks and I just participate. His barks echoed off the trees but in doing so, they lost some of their bass frequencies so although a large Cocker Spaniel barked, a tiny Terrier answered back.

Eventually, I persuaded Rufus that we had to leave and he reluctantly agreed. We headed back into the woods and weaved our way between paths, tracks and dunes. We went back through Cwm Ivy wood but even here the heat was growing and the tress that sheltered us from the sun also blocked any cooling breeze. In the car, the air conditioning was on full and we both enjoyed the fridge-like temperatures on the way home.

Today, I was up a little later after a late finishing gig last night. Rufus was home and so I decided to take a stroll down to the beach and as far as I felt like going. I was still sleepy when I left the house the the mile down to the sea front was enough to wake me up. I walked along the beach as the tide went out. There was a cooling breeze coming in from the sea which made the walking more pleasant. I managed to reach Oystermouth before deciding to turn back. By the time I got closer to Swansea again, the beach was full of people.

Swansea beach is a lovely stretch of sand that is hindered only by the unpredictable weather and a line of mud just below the high tide mark. I have great memories from my childhood of going to ‘the sands’ as I called them. Whenever I visited my grandparents (which was every 2-3 years as we stayed with them while my dad was posted from RAF station to station and was arranging accommodation), we would always go to ‘the sands’. I remember going there one day and seeing JCBs filling trucks full of the sand. I was distraught as being only 6 I thought the beach would disappear. Later I found out the sand was transported to Blackpool, of all places.

A good weekend of training, but I have to up the walking time over the next few weeks.

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Grey

Rufus let me lie in until 6.15am this morning. Although he checked to see I was okay at 12.30am, 3.30am, 5am and 5.30am and only hinted at his need to patrol the garden again. It was light when we went out and there was the suggestion that the morning would be dry, so pausing only briefly to look at the slugs and make sure they weren’t attacking my fledgling potato plant shoots, we had a swift breakfast and made our way to Whiteford.

Today’s training plan called for a long walk on relatively flat ground but with a heavier pack. With a large chunk of Old Red Sandstone from Pen y Fan in the bottom of the pack, it weighed around 22lbs (that should be around 10lb heavier than the pack I carry on a daily basis on the trek). As I’m writing this, the lack of weight on my back makes it feel as if I’m floating!

The wind was blowing and there was a hint of drizzly rain in the air as we set off towards the beach, but apart from one short shower, we remained dry throughout. We walked along the length of the beach to the headland with the recently turned tide slowly ebbing. Whiteford Lighthouse was engulfed in a rough sea. There was a little shelter around the headland as the dunes kept the worst of the wind off us, so we stopped there for a water break.

Turning back, we walked amongst the dunes so that I could get the effect of walking up and down short but steep hillocks. We shared the dunes with loads of sheep, some frisky horses and in the distance a number of cows. There were a lot of different species of birds today; waders on the sea shore, plenty of lapwings and smaller birds inland. Our route was lengthened by having to weave around clumps of sheep although Rufus showed little interest in them.

In the distance on the edge of the Landimore marsh, a pair of horses were making sweet love, and a loud racket too. We ignored them and carried on through the dunes and the woods before crossing the dunes to the beach again. In the hour or so since we’d left the beach, the tide had raced out by around 100m and waves were breaking in the distance.

We passed through the lapwings once again, and avoided a flock of sheep chomping on the grass of the dunes. Then all that was left was the long uphill slog back to the car park.

Back home, it was showers all around; me because I was sweaty and Rufus because he’d managed to roll in every single appallingly smelly thing on the beach.

Today we did 9km in just over 2hrs.

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Seeing the light (house)

Back to Whiteford again this morning. Although I love it down there, especially in the lovely weather we’re having at the moment, I’d like to be back on the hills. I think it might be a while before my knee is well enough to risk that, though.

So at 8.30 this morning, we were out in the sunshine and rapidly warming air on the golden sand of Whiteford. It was clear and there was little wind. Lapwings leapt into the air with their strange siren call as we made our way through the long dune grass. I thought we might have the beach to ourselves but a group of people appeared to be making a movie a short distance from the path to Cwm Ivy.  We avoided them and carried on along the beach towards Whiteford Lighthouse.

The tide was out today, in complete contrast to last week. I love the sound of the tide so I missed it’s lapping. I could see that it was out far enough that it would be possible to get to the lighthouse, so that’s where we aimed for. I tried checking my tide times app, but there wasn’t enough signal to get any data. Instead I decided to trust to luck and frequent checking of the tide line. I could hear words from a previous blog post ‘the tide comes in rapidly on this beach’ running through my head as we walked out. Rufus was uninterested in such trivia as tides. He was more interested in the strange maritime smells that assaulted his nose.

We passed the wreck of a small metal hulled boat. Despite many searches, I haven’t been able to find any information about it and I begin to wonder if it was an old boat brought there to use as a target. Eventually, after crossing masses of seashells and small and medium sized pools, we reached the stone and concrete base of the lighthouse. I love this place. It’s so characterful. Barnacles encrust the base and rust engulfs the upper parts of the tower. Whiteford lighthouse is the only surviving wave-washed cast iron lighthouse in the UK and one of only a few in the world. It was built in 1865 and went out of use in the 1920s, although it was briefly restored to working order with a solar powered flashing light in the 80’s. It is now a daylight only navigation aid. It’s also a Grade II listed scheduled monument.

In awe of the historical and engineering magnificence of the lighthouse, Rufus peed on it.

We headed back to shore. I kept a wary eye on the tide but it didn’t seem to be doing much. I also kept a wary eye on the route, as we were in prime artillery range territory and it was unlikely that the tidal part of the beach had been cleared as thoroughly as the dunes. We were both okay, though, and we climbed the tallest dune around to sit and have a snack. Of course, Rufus wanted my snack as well as his own. It wasn’t to be and with a huff, he went looking for adventures.

We made our way back through the dune system, weaving and wandering as the whim took us. I spotted a Kestrel sitting on a dune top, tearing apart some unfortunate prey. It was more interested in Rufus’ movements than mine, so I was able to get quite close before it flew off to a safer dune.

The while the sharp crack of shotguns had started to disturb the quiet. Near to Cwm Ivy tor, a club has built a clay pigeon shooting range. I say built, it’s a small container and some rope fencing off a dip in the dunes. It’s a little too close to places where people walk, the ponies and horses wander and more importantly, the Lapwings have their sanctuary. The coastal path passes behind the gun line but then turns to climb a hill to the left of the range. Be warned if you are in the area.

We trudged up the final path to the car park and I stopped to talk to the lady in the house nearest the gate into the village. She’s been putting a bowl of water out for dogs every day for the last 30 years. It’s certainly been there very time I’ve been there and although Rufus tends not to drink from it, I appreciate the thought. So today, I said thank you. We chatted for a bit about how dogs tend not to like fresh water. Then we completed our trudge to the car.

Today we did 10.3km in about 3.5 hours.

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On the waterfront

Confused by the change to British Summer Time, Rufus dozed until 7am (which is 6am in GMT), a full 30 minutes longer than normal. I relished the extra minutes in bed. Coffee and scones (and a breakfast of chicken and vegetables followed by three small pieces of scone for Rufus) fortified us for the morning and off we went. We made a short diversion to Broadpool and then parked up at Cwm Ivy. It’s a short walk down to the beach and once there, we had the sweep of the bay to ourselves. Lapwings made their almost electronic whistles as we walked past, lifting and swooping to distract us from their nesting ground.

The sun was shining and the tide was in. The waves were lapping and every now and then a larger wave would push the water further up the beach. There are a few shelves on this beach and once the water rises above each one, it rushes in quite quickly up to the next. As we got on to the beach, the water rose above the final shelf and rolled in quickly, leaving little space between the water and the dunes.  We walked on pebbles for a while and had to creep in close to the dunes several times.

As we neared the point, the waves started getting much larger and crashing loudly onto the shore. At the point, the water boiled and raced this way and that. The easterly wind was blowing spray from the tops of the waves as they broke. In the distance, Whiteford lighthouse was surrounded by rough sea.

The guy we met at the point was wrapped up against the winter winds, and he was complaining about the bitter cold but when we rounded the tip of the dunes, it wasn’t that bad. The sun took the edge off the cold. We sat on top of the highest dune around and had a rest. Rufus had a chew and water and went off in search of new scents. I sat and enjoyed the morning, and rested my knee which was beginning to ache again. I watched a crowd of little wader bird as they scavenged along the waters edge. They chased the water as it went out and scurried out when the next wave came in. All the time, they were moving along the beach. It was quite comical to see them move back and forth with the waves.

We made our way back through the dunes. Almost immediately, we were sheltered from the wind and the dunes held the heat from the sun. It was lovely and warm as we walked back. We met horses, Rufus chased a rabbit until it hid in a bramble bush and I had to drag him away. It was soon forgotten and we carried on up and over and around and between the dunes. Then we were back at the little valley that leads up to the car park. Slowly, we plodded the last half mile and finally sank into the seats, tired but happy.

Today we walked about 8.5km in 2.5 hours.

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