We regret to announce the death of Graham Wattley on November 28th. Graham was a strong supporter of the Society and a keen walk leader. He was well known to older Society walkers, particularly for walks he led to WW2 aircraft wrecks on the Beacons which he researched to give the stories behind the particular crashes. These usually took place close to Armistice Day and included a brief religious reference.
He was a member of the committee in the late 1990s and was a joint programme Secretary for 3 years, including for the Golden Jubilee year of the Society. A quiet, unassuming gentleman, he rarely missed a Society talk or other event and was very knowledgeable about Gower.
On Saturday 4 November, after overnight rain, there were good walking conditions for 17 walkers who assembled on the marsh at Landimore for a circular walk to Weobley Castle and returning along Stembridge valley, arguably the most attractive in the peninsular.
They rested beneath dappled sunshine at the bridge in the valley and from Cheriton Church they struck out for home down to the marsh alongside North Hill Tor. The tide was well out and the terrain moderately firm along the marsh track. Lunch for some intrepid few was taken at the starting point and well earned after a varied and rewarding 3 hours walk in this rather special and less frequented part of Gower.
Click here to see reports of previous walks
The Society is aware of its responsibilities in maintaining architecturally important buildings, protecting the natural environment, keeping footpaths in good repair and supporting local scientific and cultural activities. All this is necessary to keep Gower special. To this end we are pleased to have awarded around £35,000 in grants during 2016. A list of the recipients of the grants has been added to the website.
Click here to see the list
The President’s Evening Talk by Dr Ruth Callaway
Saturday 28th October
Marine Life on North Gower, specifically the decline of the Cockle Industry.
Our President, Byron Davies, has an abiding interest in Gower. Now living in Penclawdd, one of his concerns is the fluctuations in the cockle industry. The evening’s talk was a meticulous record of how Dr Callaway from Swansea University and colleagues from other institutions had gone about trying to find a cause for the decline in the Burry Inlet cockles. She highlighted that cockles had not died out, but that they were not achieving the lifespan and size of past decades. They experienced a shift in the population structure and are currently living for just one to two years rather than two to three. Everything had been checked, from oxygen levels, water quality, sea states, climate, sewage disposal, parasites and diseases, as well as the condition and health of other animals calling the sands of the Burry Inlet their home. The research further explored what was happening at cockle harvesting areas such as The Wash or Morecambe Bay. Historical records had been accessed – there was a major downturn of cockle landings in the 1970s. Still, while several potential causes for cockle mortalities could be ruled out, there are ongoing questions about the trigger for the changes in the Burry Inlet.
One thing she touched on was the importance of the cockle industry in terms of its heritage for North Gower. She considered if the role of women in the industry strengthened the independent financial state of the cockle women, and how tough they needed to be and indeed were. In relation to this Guto ap Gwent recollected how, as a boy in Dunvant, he dreaded playing rugby against Penclawdd – not because of the strength of the opposition but because the mothers came along to the matches and shouted stridently from the side-lines!
It was an excellent talk, thanks to Dr Callaway, and a very pleasant relaxed evening. The next event will be the launch of Gower 68 – the Journal – on Saturday 18th November at 10.30 am. Why not come and join us for that.
The second recent Society walk on Mumbles Hill was on Saturday morning 28th October, led by Peter Douglas-Jones. Mandy, Christine and Bren – walk regulars – were at the Langland Corner rendezvous before 0930; and our chairman, by the narrowest of margins, was punctual too.
Dull overcast conditions had been predicted, but we were luckier than that. We made our way east of Rotherslade Road to a point on the Langland to Limeslade path in front of Beaufort Avenue. Then, rather than follow the coastal path, we went high – giving ourselves splendid views along the coast, as well as over farmland (six large fields now under cereal stubble), the cricket club and housing. Direct sunlight was like theatrical lighting on the houses of Higher Lanes and Thistleboon. Information was shared as to where Catherine Zeta Jones and lesser local luminaries lived. The path took us to Limeslade, and Fortes for an ice cream, before we went along the main road beside Bracelet Bay, striking up left onto a wide footpath to the top of Mumbles Hill and the radio mast. There were views from there, including of Swansea Bay, where a distant Great Northern Diver could be made out with binoculars. The path led to Thistleboon, Western Close and a footpath through the woods north of Hill Crest and Somerset Road into Overland Road and thence back to our starting point.
On Saturday 14 September, a group of 17 keen walkers met at the corner of Mary Twill Lane. Before setting off on the walk we went into St Peter’s Church to look at the stained-glass window made in Swansea in the 1960’s.
Our route took us along Mary Twill Lane and over the Langland Bay golf course down to Caswell Bay. We then followed the coastal path to Brandy Cove where we turned inland and diverted into a nearby field to look at the site of the old lead mines and to hear of a tragic and rather gruesome murder. Up the lane and across past the South Gower Rugby Club – where we paused for a few minutes to take advantage of comfortable benches for our coffee break. From the Rugby Club our route took us into Bishopston Woods where the ground was rather wet and at times we had to scramble past large puddles and try to find a firm footing. Onto Pwll Du beach, where the sea had conveniently deposited a large log on which to sit, and we stopped for lunch.
It was also a chance to enjoy the warm autumn sunshine and the very pleasant temperature, a bonus, since the weather the previous week had been poor. From Pwll Du our route took us along the cliff path back to Langland where some folks stopped for a coffee at the Brasserie before tackling the steep ascent that is Brynfield Road.
A reminder about the President’s Evening:
A Gower Society Talk by Dr Ruth Callaway on Marine Life in North Gower, specifically the decline of the cockle industry.
This will be at Sketty Parish Hall on Saturday 28 October at 7.30pm.
Looking forward to seeing you there.
Peter Hutchison, who died on September 21st at the age of 86 had been struggling with poor health for some time. He was a very active member of the Gower Society. He led walks regularly and was especially knowledgeable about industrial archaeology which made his walks very interesting. He was vice chairman on the main Gower Society committee until resigning. He was an active member on the Planning Search Team using his computer skills to look at applications online until he was too unwell to continue. He was also an very active member of the Gower Society Youth Action committee, helping us decide which schools and youth organisations to award grants and attending the Youth events. He was a keen photographer and until his eyesight deteriorated was the “official photographer” for the Gower Society Youth Events. Most of his photos were displayed at the Gower Show and until last year he helped preparing all the displays for the Youth corner using his many computer skills. He also used these skills to run the Gower Society website until it was radically updated. His determination to do as much as he could even when his health was deteriorating was an example to us all. He will be missed.
The funeral for Peter Hutchison, a former member of the Gower Society committee, will be on Thursday, October 12th at 10.30 a.m. at Morriston Crematorium.
Swansea Canal Society recently carried out some restoration work at Clydach Lock and the Gower Society was pleased to give them a grant to help with this valuable work.
More information about the work can be found here.