Boners on the Gower.

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Bearbonesnorm
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Boners on the Gower.

Post by Bearbonesnorm »

My weekend on the Gower was one of two parts and began on Friday morning when I set off with a selection of toys and vague plan.

I arrived at the Worms Head NT carpark and duly deposited six quid into the parking machine, slung my new Lomo rucksack on my back and headed off along the coast path. After a mile or so I got bored of continually saying 'morning' so bumbled down the cliffs to carry on along the rocks at the bottom. A few hundred yards later, I'd now become bored of climbing up and down rocks, so when a small sandy area presented itself I decided to take the opportunity to get in the sea. Ten minutes later, I pushed the raft into the water and started paddling.

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First port of call was a sea cave. The tide was rising but there was still a small patch of sand available in front to beach. After the obligatory photograph, I pushed the raft back into the sea, threw a leg over it and promptly got tipped upside down by the waves that were hitting the shore ... after another unsuccessful attempt, I eventually made it on board and back out to sea, albeit somewhat wetter and sandier than I'd intended.

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I turned tale and headed back along the coast in the direction I'd come. I could see Worms Head in the distance and as it was still quite early, I thought I'd go and have a closer look. I'd discovered that a skeg makes a world of difference on a raft, so while the pace wasn't blistering, the thing at least tracked reasonably well. I paddled along quite happily with a handful of seabirds for company.

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Approaching Worms Head

I knew the tide was rising and as I approached the 'island' things began to get a bit choppier. However, I hadn't quite anticipated just how choppy they'd become as I drew in-line with the headland. Now, packrafts are quite stable but the swell had become quite severe, I knew I had to keep the stern (pointy bit at the back I believe) facing the waves, yet I also needed to point the raft at forty five degrees to them in order to go round the headland and not be pushed directly into the big rocky lump I was trying to go round. What followed was some quite frantic paddling / maneuvering and somewhere between thirty seconds and a minute where I had genuine doubts about whether I was coming back out. I don't really find the thought of death scary but I was concerned that I'd be that dickhead on the news who's body was found washed up on the beach tomorrow morning. However, my fears of that happening were somewhat reduced when I remembered that the raft still had John Climbers name and phone number written on the front ... at least the news reporter would now say, "The body of Merseyside man John Moore was this morning found washed up on the shore below Worms Head, following an attempt to paddle a blow up raft around the island" ... I honestly felt much better after that.

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The other side of Worms Head - I was trying to get a picture of the arch. You can just make it out.I also had a visit from a nosey seal shortly afterwards

Things started to calm down a bit after clearing the headland and I decided that as it was now probably getting on for tea time and I'd had enough excitement for one day, I'd make for the nearest stretch of beach. Obviously, near makes it sound like you'll be there in a few minutes but it was more like fifty before I fell on to the sand and stood looking back out from whence I'd come.

The evening proved less eventful and included visiting the Coop (no Spar on the Gower) and a long walk across a lovely ridge track before settling down for the evening to read a chapter in the packraft handbook that talks about crossing open water and how the rip tides around headlands can be especially tricky.


I was awake bright and breezy, so made a brew and stood outside the van in the gathering light and talked to the sheep for a bit ... I should probably have put my shorts on given that I'd parked next to the road but it was fairly quiet and only a handful of cars went passed. We'd agreed to meet around 11 at a predetermined location, so I set off to look for it. As I drove into the village I spotted Burty and Mart outside the local bakery so pulled up for a brew and a chat. It transpired that various souls were present and scattered to the four winds. Declining a second brew, I drove to the start, found a parking spot and set about sorting the collection of stuff in the back of the van into something that looked like a bike. During this process Burty and Mart reappeared and we talked bollox while I ate my breakfast from a plastic bucket of the bucket and spade variety that I'd brought along.

As if by magic, just before 11, everyone else arrived and within mere minutes we actually set off. Mere minutes later, we stopped and argued amongst ourselves as to which way round we were going. Apathy won and as most people didn't really seem to give a toss, we simply started following David's gps. Mike had told me that the route contained a real mix and he was right. An early highlight was riding across the green while people tried to play golf around us ... we did question whether we were in the right place and were assured we were. A second highlight came shortly after leaving the greens when Mart took a tumble descending a steep sandy track and got his leg trapped in his bike. Unable to move, Sean had to retrace his steps and carefully untangle him - obviously, in itself that isn't funny but stood at the bottom watching a family close by p1ss themselves at the unfolding comedy was.

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Fish and chips followed more riding and more riding followed that until we found ourselves looking out at Worms Head. I wasn't in any great rush to go back, so while some went for a closer look, others sat around the carpark discussing just how you're able to get the ring-pull from a coke can onto your penis. Puddings and pints in the pub followed and it appeared that we'd single handedly managed to empty the beer garden with talk of Goth discos, pissy floorboards, dead bodies and of course, hedge-porn.

Our gpx file indicated that we were to follow a BW that ran downhill from the pub but we decided that it would be much better to push our bikes up the really steep hill above it and spend the night there instead ... so steep, someone had cut steps into it. Once aloft, we coasted across the rocky track that presented itself until we reached the old radar station and our home for the night. At this point, the usual happened and people erected whatever they deemed fit to sleep beneath, brews were made and much merriment was had.

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Just look at all that merriment.

After a very brief bit of shoving, the first descent of Sunday came early and given how steep it was going up, it was no real surprise how steep it was going down. V had mentioned there was a cafe at the bottom and there was but it didn't open until nine and it was half eight .... we decided to press on. It was starting to warm up now and I seemed to have left my good legs on top of the big hill, so what followed was a ride broken up into a series of shorter sections as we regrouped, carried on, regrouped and carried on - thanks all :wink:

Breakfast came a little later than expected and seemed to mainly consist of pies and ice-cream eaten outside a petrol station ... you really don't get more bikepacky than that do you? Morning morphed into afternoon, a point I'll duly admit to being f*cked by. We reached a road junction - by my reckoning the finish lay two miles to the right, the gpx said ten miles to the left. I bid my farewells and turned right, everyone else turned left.

Thanks everyone, cracking weekend and genuinely, thank you for helping remember where I'd left my mojo :wink:
What value a life half lived if the half you lived was the wrong half?
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psling
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by psling »

Worm's Head is notoriously difficult, probably more so in an inflatable!! And if you see the lower level rocks exposed at low tide to the south between Rhossilli and Worm's Head then in an inflatable v. rocks contest only one would end up ripped to shreds :shock: Seriously fast tides and currents sometimes, not to mention the effect of the wind but at least you were probably being watched all the time from the Coastguard Station on the headland :-bd I had a 'slow-motion-life-passing-through-your-head' moment just to the north of there many years ago in an overturned kayak. Great fun though all the same :cool:

Did you go around Llanmadoc Hill on your ride? Much bracken about...? :lol:
We go out into the hills to lose ourselves, not to get lost. You are only lost if you need to be somewhere else and if you really need to be somewhere else then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.
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RIP
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by RIP »

Bearbonesnorm wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 12:29 pm I ate my breakfast from a plastic bucket of the bucket and spade variety that I'd brought along
:-bd best bit of the weekend surely
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Bearbonesnorm »

Much bracken about...?
Much bracken everywhere Peter but I have to say, just about everywhere had received a trim and was passable ... even David the tick magnet only got one or two.
What value a life half lived if the half you lived was the wrong half?
paramart
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by paramart »

Spot on report stu, few bits made me chuckle
it's not that I can and others can't, it's that I will and others won't.
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sean_iow
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by sean_iow »

You make it sound very rowdy :smile: My recollection of the trip is more refined, smashed avocado, feta and chili on sourdough for breakfast on Saturday and a vanilla late at lunch on Sunday :wink:
Adventure without risk is Disneyland - Bikemonger
jameso
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by jameso »

That's great, quality trip and a good read..
at least you were probably being watched all the time from the Coastguard Station on the headland
"here there's another one in a rubber dingy over there again" "tenner?" "yeah go on"
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RIP
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by RIP »

jameso wrote: Mon Jul 26, 2021 2:17 pm That's great, quality trip and a good read..
at least you were probably being watched all the time from the Coastguard Station on the headland
"here there's another one in a rubber dingy over there again" "tenner?" "yeah go on"
:lol:
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"What's the worst that could happen?", "Nothing" - MuddyPete

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sean_iow
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by sean_iow »

Stu's thinking to himself, "yesterday I was out there wishing I could get back ashore, now I've got to spend the night talking to Sean I wish I was back out there drowning" :lol:

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TheBrownDog
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by TheBrownDog »

Brilliant stuff Stu. That bivvy spot, with the view over the sea, from on high, I mean, just WOW. I think I'd drive there just to kip there.

Any chance I can get the GPX file on a PM?
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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Bearbonesnorm »

Brilliant stuff Stu. That bivvy spot, with the view over the sea, from on high, I mean, just WOW. I think I'd drive there just to kip there.

Any chance I can get the GPX file on a PM?
Any success was nowt to do with me - route is Mike's and the Sat night spot was the idea of Matt. I'll send you the gpx file but it doesn't include the up and over of the bivvy spot ... easy enough to work out though.
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Verena
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Verena »

A few bits and pieces from me.

I rode down after work, getting a lift over the first bumpy bit (aka the Brecon Beacons), and picking up the amazing route 43 NCR from Coelbren, all the way down to Swansea Bay, all on smooth flat traffic free cycle path, loved it. What by car is a journey to be merely endured, by bike was a green, lush, peaceful haven of waterways and wildlife (including a herd of black cows blocking the way, complete with a young lad too scared to try and move them until I arrived and we were scared together and did it - pretty much right underneath the M4 flyover!)
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

I took the scenic route on the wrong side of the river at the famous former Morfa copper works, I think they call it "sweet flowing singletrack", it got narrower and narrower and I got scratched and stung to bits by brambles and nettles, but carried on hoping it would eventually go somewhere, until I came to some fishermen who told me it didn't....
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

Dave had picked us an ace spot on the cliffs for the Friday night bivvy. Even though I knew better, I picked a slopey edge of ditch as my chosen bed for the night :roll: , which meant I spent much of it fighting gravity rather than sleeping. But at least that meant I was up early enough to go sit by the edge of the cliff to quietly contemplate, just as a herd of ponies decided to stroll by and nibble their way right through the middle of our camp (we had been discussing the perils of wildlife munching through guy lines the night before...). Luckily, Andy was also awake, so we captured the moment by taking pictures of each other through pony legs :lol:
Image2021-07-26_05-54-40 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

Posh breakfast at Caswell Bay - if you zoom in closely to the menu, you'll see there was not a bacon butty in sight
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

Lots of happy attentive faces there listening attentively - to what though?!?
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

Let's abandon this modern GPS nonsense, and instead find our route using stone carvings
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

For some reason, I really like this one
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

This one might be my favourite though
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr

It's through here, honestly Burty
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr
ImageBearbones Gower trip July 2021 by Verena Zimmer, on Flickr


Here's the whole collection
https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWhVE12
darbeze
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by darbeze »

Looks and sounds like a great trip...

Glad you caught a glimpse of your mojo Stuart...

Si
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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Bearbonesnorm »

Glad you caught a glimpse of your mojo Stuart...
I'm beginning to suspect it was in my pocket all along Si :wink:
What value a life half lived if the half you lived was the wrong half?
darbeze
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by darbeze »

Bearbonesnorm wrote: Tue Jul 27, 2021 8:46 am
Glad you caught a glimpse of your mojo

Stuart...
I'm beginning to suspect it was in my pocket all along Si :wink:
Reckon I should take a peek in my own pocket...

Definitely need to be riding more. Haven't slept out since WRT 2020....
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Charliecres
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Charliecres »

Looks ace and I’m really sorry I missed it. I’d double-booked and instead did the TCW for the first time in what I’m guessing were once-in-a-lifetime bone-dry conditions.
scott of the woods
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by scott of the woods »

Great write up Stu and well done to all that endured the shire weather and the endless talking of bollox.
Any chance of sharing the GPX, looking for a trip out for August B/H and might even look at the possibilities of riding from home😃
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JohnClimber
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by JohnClimber »

Verena told me about this write up as I'd missed.

You were very lucky Stuart, it shows the need to good knowledge and being able to make the right call at the right time and not just pressing onwards to what could be your death.

Training courses for death inducing hobbies are essential.

And can you scrub my name off and replace it with yours one with a market pen please :roll:
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Verena
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Verena »

JohnClimber wrote: Mon Aug 16, 2021 7:56 pm
Training courses for death inducing hobbies are essential.
That reminds me of when I took up inline skating a good few years back, and decided that the instructions saying attending a training course on how to brake was for woosses...I went up a little lane which I was convinced was flat. On the way back turns out it wasn't :roll: and I found myself gathering more and more speed with no way of controlling it. I literally jumped into the hedge to stop myself :lol: .
Then walked down the hill a bit to where I thought it had levelled off, strapped the skates back on and.....
repeated the same mistake :o :lol:
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Bearbonesnorm
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Re: Boners on the Gower.

Post by Bearbonesnorm »

Remember the rule John ... 'safety third' :wink:
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