I gingerly climbed out of bed on Sunday morning and was more than pleasantly surprised to discover that not only did my legs still function, they didn’t even ache. A quick glance out of the window showed storm clouds hanging over Gower but with a promising forecast for the rest of the day nothing was going to stop me standing on the cliffs at Rhossili come sundown.
Emma dropped me off at Three Crosses just west of the farm that had called a halt to yesterdays progress and I was pleased to find stone 26 there to greet me. Fortunately I’d only missed out on a couple of hundred meters and was able to continue with a clear conscience that I hadn’t cheated myself out of completing the whole route. If anything I’d probably even added a couple of miles. This was no time to dwell on the past however as once more it was time to put one foot in front of the other as I headed west. Almost immediately my decision to cut through a small park ended badly as I could find no exit on the other side, but that was soon corrected and I started on the long road to Welsh Moor. Having studied the OS maps the night before I knew that this was going to be the last long road section and was far from looking forward to the slog that surely lay ahead. To my relief I found the going much easier than yesterdays approach to Gorseinon due, I think, to a conscious effort to keep my pace steady. It clearly worked though somehow I managed to miss stone 22 along the way. I can’t deny that there was an immense temptation to retrace my steps to find the missing marker but with another couple missed in the woodland near Penrose Farm I was glad that I hadn’t.
While on the subject I must mention the appalling state of said woodland which in the interests of fairness may have no connection with the nearby farm. What I expected to find was another hidden gem through a rare remnant of Gowers traditional landscape, but instead I was confronted with what can only be described as a rubbish dump. Both sides of the footpath were lined with large piles of landscaping debris from broken fence panels and masonry through to felled conifers. Worst of all perhaps were the abandoned cars and other piles of assorted waste, hardly a good advert for the area. Considering all of this sits alongside a nationally recognised walking route I find it highly surprising that the local council or Gower Society haven’t taken action.
Fortunately the scar was brief and I was soon swinging south to pass through Parc le Breos. Regular readers may well be familiar with this ancient deer park from my previous visits and once again the cool woodland was very pleasant indeed. Rather handily a heavy rain shower chose that moment to travel over so I took the opportunity at stone 15A (one of the extras) for a spot of lunch. Judging from movement in the upper canopy it was clear the wind speed had increased dramatically which meant clear skies were quickly restored but also that the next section of walk was going to be anything but calm.
At stone 12 I emerged onto the south coast of Gower for the first time and was treated to views down to Three Cliffs Bay, frequently voted as the best beach in Britain. Today however its sands were unsurprisingly quiet as I turned west once more to pass the Gower Way inauguration stone. Ahead of me lay the sleeping hulk of Cefn Bryn, an Old Red sandstone ridge and the second highest point on the peninsula. Looking to my right I gave a brief wave to our house way off in the distance and for the first time since setting off on Saturday got a real sense of just how far I’d already come. Unfortunately Rhossili still looked equally distant.
Stone 10 heralded another heavy rain shower but the rewards were a stunning rainbow stretching along the Burry Inlet. Conditions had conspired to produce a low level mist that in turn led to a very squat, almost horizontal display the likes of which I’ve never seen. I tried taking a photo but the distance was just too great to do it justice.
The cairn above Reynoldston led me onto new territory once again with the small hamlet of Llanddewi being a particular delight. There was however a bull to contend with though thankfully it seemed more concerned with dozing in the sun than bothering a passing walker. The old derelict farmstead at Kingshall was my next significant waypoint before finally reaching Rhossili Down. At this stage the general weariness that had been building within me finally hit and the long uphill climb to Telgarths Well had never looked so unachievable. Sitting down may not have been the best move but I needed to gather my energy for one final push.
Twenty minutes later found me finally covering the last few meters of Rhossili headland until at last, after almost 35 miles, I felt the rough texture of marker 1 beneath my fingers. Before me sat Worm’s Head, a sight I’ve seen on many an occasion but never after quite such a strenuous arrival and with such a sense of deep satisfaction. Despite a few tough miles I had successfully completed my first long distance walk and had pushed myself further than ever before. The only problem? It was another couple of miles back to the road and my lift home.