It’s a while since I wrote my last Blog so now as we’re into another Lockdown it’s time to bring it up to date.
This year because of Covid19 and the restrictions that have been placed on us all we haven’t been able to go on any long holidays since early February 2020. Yes we were lucky to go away when we did and during our week in Laos and ten days in Thailand we felt pretty safe. Since then we haven’t travelled abroad but we have been away on a couple of mini-breaks. Three days on The Gower Peninsular in mid September was the first one and as luck would have it, the weather was perfect.
It’s about two hours drive from here to Swansea Bay although it was a little longer as we stopped at The Gower Inn on the way to have a pint of Gower Gold, a locally brewed beer. Suitably refreshed and armed with a couple of M&S sandwiches we ate our lunch sat on a cliff-top overlooking Rhossili Beach. As you can see from the picture above, the bay is breathtaking. We were to find out that this is just one of many areas on The Gower that has the most breath-taking scenery.
Although there were only a few people on the beach the cliff-top area was quite busy but then it was a warm, Sunday afternoon. Most people were walking in the same direction to look at Worm’s Head which is the furthest westerly point on the Gower Peninsula. At low tide you can walk across but leave it too late as the tide is coming in and you’re stranded on the headland for quite a while.
There are lots of walks in that area and we chose one that took us around the coast and then inland across the field back to the car park. Hardly any people seemed to have walked further than Worm’s Head which surprised us. Once back to the car we headed for the hills to a little village where we were going to stay.
Following a recommendation from a Welsh friend of ours we’d booked three nights at the family-run King Arthur Hotel in the village of Reynoldston. Looking at the picture above takes me back to our stay there and reminds me of sitting in the garden enjoying the wonderful weather … and a glass of beer. It was a perfect place to stay; good food, helpful staff, reasonably priced room and a quiet rural setting including free to roam sheep.
We didn’t have a meal at the hotel that first night as we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and thought we’d go a little ‘up market’. It wasn’t our best decision. Yes the restaurant has a Michelin star and a very good write-up with a lovely location on the beach but it didn’t do it for us. Don’t even ask how much the bill came to and that was without having a bottle of wine! What it lacked in atmosphere was matched by the small, beautifully conceived dishes – even the Welsh lamb lacked flavour. Enough said.
Our first full day and the weather was amazing. We didn’t expect to spend a couple of hours on the beach or go into the sea but that’s what we did. The walk down to Pobbles Bay is really interesting. Lots of people practising going down the craggy rocks using climbing gear which tells you how steep it was to walk down to the beach. We were happy to walk down the path. By the way, it isn’t us sitting on the rocks in the picture above, made a good shot though.
Having scrambled down the steep, sandy path to the beach we settled ourselves down by a line of rocks and a rock pool – a little area all to ourselves. The beach wasn’t busy anyway but it was nice to have our own private area and the rock pool was handy for keeping the drinks cool. We just couldn’t believe how hot it was – who’d have thought!
The plan was to walk to the next bay and then back up to the top of the cliffs however the tide had other ideas! We hadn’t realise it would come in quite so fast and we weren’t the only ones. As you can see from the top picture, there was no way we were getting round to the next bay. What you can’t see is a group of people around the other side of the rock scrambling in the water rescuing their belongings. They’d gone for a swim not realising their things were being submerged under seawater!
As we couldn’t walk along the beach to the next bay we had no choice but to walk up to the top. Yes it was quite steep in places and although we hadn’t planned to walk to the ruined Pennard Castle it was more or less on our way. What a great place to build a castle although it was only in use for two hundred years before it was abandoned in the 14th century. There’s not a lot left but it was worth walking up to it and the view was fantastic.
By the time we’d walked across the golf course and into the village we were ready for a sit down, a piece of cake and then an ice cream. What a handy pit stop it was! We were quite tired by the time we got back to our hotel but it was great to just chill out in the pub garden and enjoy the last warm rays of the sun.
On our last full day we drove our of The Gower and headed for The National Botanic Garden of Wales which is located in Llanarthney in the River Tywi valley, Carmarthenshire. It wasn’t until we left Reynoldston by the top road that we realised quite high up the village is. You are quickly onto wild, barren moorland with lots of sheep everywhere. It almost seemed strange leaving The Gower as we’d got very used to the area but I particularly wanted to visit The Botanic Gardens. It’s established itself as one of Wales’ main tourist attractions and is also a centre for botanical research and conservation.
Because of the first lockdown and also because gardens start to look a little bedraggled by mid-September we felt there were areas that had been left and perhaps another year would look very different. A place like this would depend on volunteers as well as paid staff and probably there just weren’t enough people to keep the gardens looking at their best. Our favourite areas were the Japanese Garden which is pictured above, the several fascinating water features along The Broadwalk and The Great Glasshouse.
On the complex is the world’s largest single-span glasshouse designed by Norman Foster, measuring 110 m long by 60 m wide. It’s very impressive and houses some of the most endangered species of plants on the planet. This was definitely the main attraction.
As it was only mid-afternoon by the time we drove back onto The Gower we decided to walk along the coastal path from Caswell Bay to Langland Bay. Our Welsh friend had recommended this walk which follows the headland around from one bay to the other on a neat, tarmaced path. We were so pleased we took his advice. It’s an interesting walk and late afternoon was very quiet until we got to the village of Langland. The bistro cafe had just one table left outside which we nabbed and enjoyed a very large glass of wine.
As the sun was getting quite low by now we didn’t dally over our wine too long and got going again to walk back to Caswell Bay. As you can see the light was fading but the orange glow over the water was beautiful.
Wednesday morning and time to head home. The breakfasts served at the hotel are excellent and there’s plenty of it so we felt in need of a walk round the village before getting in the car. Reynoldston is an attractive little village with wide expanses of common land on which sheep roam everywhere, including the pub garden when no-one is there! The King Arthur hotel was a perfect place for us and we shall definitely go back there and explore more of this beautiful coastline.