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Neath Canal Towpath – Saturday 16th February 2019
Our group met at the band stand in the middle of Victoria Park, Neath, where Gareth Hughes and Ian Milne from the Neath and Tennant Canals Trust were waiting for us. From Neath we caught the bus for the short 15 minute ride to Clyne Court, where we began our walk along the towpath of the Neath canal.
From Clyne to Aberdulais the scenery is rural and attractive, with the canal on one side and the river Neath quite close beside it on the other. The weather was overcast but mostly dry, and the canal towpath made for easy walking conditions.
Gareth and Ian were friendly and knowledgeable guides who talked about the history of the canal and indicated points of interest along the way, showing us old photos of the barges, the horses and the people who would have made the canal such a busy thoroughfare in years gone by.
At Aberdulais the Neath canal meets the Tennant canal, the river Dulais flows into the river Neath and the modern roads span the waterways. It’s a complex junction. We stopped here at the Aberdulais basin for our guides to explain the complicated set of bridges and to show us the old aqueduct, which originally carried the Tennant canal over the river Neath. Lunching at the Aberdulais Falls, the site of so much industrial activity in the past, we talked about the iron and tinplate works that were sited there and how they would have utilised the Dulais for power and the river Neath and the canals for transporting goods and materials.
From Aberdulais we returned to the Neath canal towpath, following it all the way to Neath town centre. On route Gareth and Ian talked about the locks and the practicalities of ensuring ease of movement for the 20-30 barges that would have travelled daily on the waterway in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was a really interesting walk, and we all wanted to say thank you to our guides for giving us an insight into the area, its history and its current conditions. Thanks Gareth, thanks Ian!
Penclawdd & Llanmorlais, 12th January 2019
Liz Stone led a lovely walk on Saturday from Penclawdd up over the Graig, with views of the Loughor estuary, through the Morlais Valley and then back along the marsh road to Crofty. Even though the day was cloudy it did not spoil the views over the estuary.
Newton, Brandy Cove & Langland Bay, 6th October 2018
A photo showing some of the small group of walkers who braved the weather on Saturday 6th October. Although the group met in the rain, we were rewarded at the end of our walk with clear blue skies and warm sunshine.
The walk took us through Bishopston woods, where we stopped at the roundhouse for shelter and a short coffee break. We were soon joined there by young Arthur and his friends who were celebrating Arthur’s fourth birthday party. We were tempted to join in the fun but our path took us onwards and upwards. Across the fields and back to the road, we made our way to Brandy cove. From there we took the cliff path back to Langland Bay, where coffee was enjoyed by all at the Brasserie, before the ascent back to St Peters Church.
Burry Holms, 30th June 2018
Our group met at the car park at Hillend, Llangennith for the start of a Saturday walk to Burry Holms. The beautiful sunny weather meant that the campsite was full, and there were already lots of people making their way down to the beach. We walked along Rhossili Bay and by the time we reached the causeway to Burry Holms the tide was far enough out for us to cross onto the small island. There is plenty of evidence that humans have occupied Burry Holms over the centuries: we looked first at the ruins of the small settlement founded in the 11thcentury, then climbed up to the Iron Age fort at the top of the island. From there, there was a great view out across the Loughor estuary and further along the coast towards Pembrokeshire.
Crossing back onto the mainland, we followed the coastal path through the dunes and along the top of the cliff. Above Blue Pool Corner some of us waited while the braver element amongst us climbed down the steep path to see the small, tidal pool that the cove is named after. Carrying on to Broughton, we lunched in the dunes then continued our walk along the sandy path at the side of the marsh and back to our starting point. The walk description suggested this part could have been muddy, but the amazing warm weather we’ve been having this summer made it anything but wet. The wild flowers we saw on our way (the thrift has almost finished but there were still plenty of orchids to be seen) seemed to be enjoying the sunshine too.
Lunnon to Ilston, 23rd June 2018
The heat of the day and the postponed date for the walk impacted on the turn out for Robin Kirby’s walk on Saturday morning, 23 June. Nevertheless, the route excited the attendees because of its uplifting beauty and rarely taken paths.
It began with the decent through the Park Place woods at Lunnon to the Cwm and along the Northill Wood side of Pennard Pill to Three Cliffs beach. Following a brief “pit stop” the walkers ascended to Pennard Castle where sustenance was taken with lunch and the remarkable view of the valley and sea below. The return to Lunnon passed through the woods below Sandy Lane and, after crossing the main road, up through the houses alongside the road, to Great Lunnon Farm.
It took about 3 hours and was rewarded by the views and the rarely trodden paths at Lunnon.
Worms Head , 16th June 2018
Peter Douglas-Jones led a small group of eight of us over to the Worms Head. We felt a real sense of achievement on getting nearly to the outer head, where we had great views of the sea birds, and then back over the causeway.
Penclawdd and the Morlais Valley, 5th May 2018
Liz Stone led a GS walk on Saturday 5th May to Penclawdd and the Morlais Valley. Attached are a couple of photos Jane Probert took on the way. One is of the lunch stop, where they had a beautiful view over North Gower.
Horton, 28th April 2018
This was a circular walk from Horton car park with a litter pick near the end. It proceeded inland up to Western Slade farm and continued through Eastern Slade farm before reaching the lane connecting Oxwich Green with Penrice village. Upon reaching the Oxwich Green road we crossed through the field to reach Penrice Castle.
After a brief coffee break at a farm trailer we crossed the fields directly to the cliff west of Oxwich Point.
After a compulsory intake of snacks, we returned westward above the cliffs to The Sands at Slade.
The intended litter pick involving clearance of the beach and a local farmer’s trailer did not materialise as the high tide must have taken the litter elsewhere but to avoid disappointment we cleared the return footpath of rubbish in the undergrowth. The mix of exercise and work left the 8 walkers well satisfied.
Hunts Bay Circular, 14th April 2018
Notes on a walk in April 2018 from walk leader, Guto ap Gwent.
Our walk took us from the National Trust carpark in Southgate along Hael Lane to Bishopston Valley, following the track that was once the access to an old silver mine. The silence was broken only by birdsong and the loud gushing of a spring replenished by an overnight downpour.
We crossed the valley floor via the Ironbridge and took the path to the other side passing, as we climbed, the Iron Age hill fort and Paradise Meadow (now Ocean Meadows) an Arts and Crafts mansion once the home of the Gilbertson family who in earlier times were major industrialists in the Swansea Valley.
Skirting through the fields we passed by Knapp Farm and on to our coffee break at the “grandstand” benches overlooking Pwlldu. Now it was the sound of the incoming tide and the cries of the seagulls. Then the walk back along the coastal path to Southgate and the Three Cliffs cafe for more coffee.
Llandovery And Myddfai, 24th March 2018
Notes of a walk in 24th March from the walk leader, Roy Probert.
The Heart of Wales line train from Swansea through mid-Wales to Shrewsbury is free to senior bus pass holders until the end of March. We took advantage of this and used the train to travel to Llandovery for the start of our spring walk. The train journey is pleasant in itself with views of the Loughor estuary, the River Towy and, at this time of the year, lots of lambs running around in the fields on the way.
Our walk started from Llandovery railway station, going through the town centre and then past the castle ruins. It took us along quiet paths, through a series of deciduous woods, across streams and over a multitude of stiles until we reached the little village of Myddfai. On the way red kites flew above us, calling to each other, and a fox ran right in front of us as we crossed through the fields.
Myddfai has a very attractive community hall and visitor centre, and we stopped a while there to sample their home made cakes, which were delicious! Our return led us back through rolling countryside (which means lots of ups and downs) with lovely views over the hills around Llandovery. Back at the railway station, there is another café in the old station building, manned by local volunteers with more delicious home made cake to tempt us. The weather was kind, and we had a good day out.
Llangennith Burrows And Llanmadoc Hill, 10th March 2018
Undeterred by the weather forecast, 12 members met at Cwm Ivy car park for a 7 mile walk. Starting out with a good climb on the coast path where we were rewarded with great views, leading eventually to Broughton Farm where a coffee break was taken.
The rain, which had been promised, duly arrived as we continued south towards Hillend. Here we had a very swift lunch break standing under the eves of the holiday park cafe. We were already drenched but the shelter from the building kept our lunch dry! The sight of these snowdrops near Llanmadoc cheered us.
Onward and upward, our return route took us to Llangennith and around Llanmadoc Hill. We enjoyed spring sunshine for the last couple of miles, so all arrived back at the cars totally dried out and the sight of new born lambs in the sunshine made us think of future walks in the warmer weather.
Felindre, 17th February 2018
Notes of a Gower Society walk which took place on 17 February 2018 from the walk leader Jane Probert.
We met in the village of Felindre, with the intention of following a section of the Gower Way – from marker 39 at the restored corn mill in Felindre village to marker 45 at the Upper Lliw Reservoir. Our walk first took us past Nebo Chapel, which has a murder stone leaning on its graveyard wall, to record a murder which took place in 1832. Then we followed a pretty route through fields and a wooded valley until the grassy face of the dam of the Lower Lliw reservoir came into view. It was a cold, dry morning and the surface of the water in the reservoir was flat and looked lovely, like glass.
From the lower to the upper reservoir, there is a good metalled track, which made for easy walking. On our way we noted the quarry where sandstone had been extracted, and the series of scrapes in the hillside where tunnels had been cut to extract coal in centuries past. At the top of the track we stopped for lunch by the dam of the Upper Lliw Reservoir, just as grey rainclouds gathered over the hills and gave us a quick soaking. Its all part of the pleasure of a walk on Gower!
Returning along the muddy track on the west side of the lower reservoir, then through the wooded valley, we arrived back at our starting point in Felindre. We changed our boots and said our goodbyes. Arriving back home I saw on the news that an earthquake of 4.4 magnitude, thought to be Britain’s largest for 10 years, had occurred while we had been chatting at our cars with the epicentre quite close to where we were. I had felt nothing, did anyone else?
Landimore, 4th November 2017
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.
Mumbles Hill, 28th October 2017.
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.
Langland, 14 October 2017.
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.
Bishopston Valley and Southgate, 9th September 2017
Notes of a walk in September 2017 from the walk leader, Jane Probert.
Our walk took us from the church in Pennard down a very muddy Bishopston Valley to Pwlldu Bay. We talked about the quarrying, shipping and farming which had made the area such a busy place in years gone by. Making use of Heather Holt’s publication ‘Pwlldu Remembered’ we identified the dwellings that remain in Pwlldu, including the ruins of a little cottage on the side of the stream. Climbing up from the valley to High Pennard, we walked along the cliffs towards Southgate. The views from the cliffs here are amazing – and the houses along East Cliff and West Cliff are always interesting to look at. After we’d had lunch on Pobbles Beach the rain really started to come down heavily, and it drove us to head back: through the village, down Hael Lane and back into the Bishopston valley. We walked through what must have been one of the muddiest sections possible in the valley, and so back to our starting point and home to clean our boots!
Pilton Green, 18th March 2017
After heavy rain the previous day and night and with residual mist and clouds, it was not looking promising for the walk on Saturday, 18 March, but, whilst the mist remained, the rain held off as if to acknowledge this walk deserved dry weather. It was a fine walk in the less frequented hinterland of the peninsula passing Gower’s oldest isolated houses now uninhabited and derelict.
It began at Pilton Green (just east of Rhossili) and proceeded north, firstly to Newton farmhouse (now undergoing restoration seemingly to its former glory), continuing northward to Old Henllys farmhouse (wind and water tight but no longer occupied; featured in Old Gower Farmhouses by Bernard Morris) and finally on to Cathan East and Cathan West (the derelict house undergoing renovation). The accompanying picture was taken at Cathan West.
The walkers returned via the idyllic White Mill house and the back of Rhossili Down before leaving the track near Fernhill Farm and down into Pitton valley.
Having crossed the Rhossili road, they passed the well kept yard of Great Pitton Farm and headed to Pilton Green through the fields of the former Pitton Cross farm and passing West Pilton and East Pilton farmhouses.
It took exactly four hours and not a soul was seen.