When: 19 – 21 September 2008

Present: Rhoda (organiser), Bob, Alan, Claire, Joanne, Steve L, Sarah, Annie, Julie, Bruce, Steve C, Simon H, Belinda, Paul, Si, Ali, Mike, Gaby (and Andy M and Zoe camping nearby)

Location: Rhossili Village Hall bunkhouse

With an extremely promising weather forecast, eighteen of us headed for the Gower peninsula, some meeting up in the pub at Rhossili for a meal. The bunkhouse was new, and furnished mostly from IKEA (even the soap); as is traditional, we had a few quiet drinks and discussed plans for Saturday while waiting for the late arrivals to navigate their way through Swansea.

The main walking group, which comprised 10 people, was up promptly on Saturday morning as the bus to Port Eynon left at 8.45. At 9am sharp they set off from Port Eynon, in glorious sunshine, along the coast back to Rhossili. The route was varied, ranging from narrow paths with a cliffside drop to grassy headlands to scrambling up and down polished rocks to see Culver Hole (allegedly a former smugglers’ cave). There was a prolonged lunch stop at Fall Bay, where Mike, Alan, Claire and Bruce bravely flung themselves into the sea, while Rhoda, Sarah and Gaby merely risked a paddle. There was also a game of beach cricket, for which some had more aptitude than others. They then carried on to Worm’s Head, where the tides were right for crossing the rocky causeway and Devil’s Bridge to the nature reserve.

At Culver Hole. (Sarah)

Along the cliffs. (Sarah)

On Devil’s Bridge. (Mike)

Meanwhile, the climbers’ day was based around tide times which meant a much more leisurely start. Julie was thankful to Si for “knocking her up” in the morning. Eventually, they did make it down to Fall Bay just as the walkers were leaving. Paul led Valhalla (King Wall), HVS 4c, with Steve C seconding: this was an overhanging start with great moves, leading to the first gear placement 15 feet off the ground. Julie led Ragnarok (HS 4a) with Si and Ali seconding, and Steve led Sweyn (HS 4a) with Paul seconding. Andy M also led a couple of routes, and a successful day was rounded off with a pint or two at the Worm’s Head Hotel.

Julie and Ali. (Andy M)

Paul. (Andy M)

Si and Andy. (Zoe)

On Saturday evening Andy and Zoe joined us at the bunkhouse, and everyone participated in the culinary extravaganza of carrot and coriander soup, Thai green chicken curry, and apple crumble with local ice cream. The very well-equipped kitchen (complete with extractor fan which went up to 11) was overseen by “head chef” Sarah, but it was a genuine team effort all round. Special mention has to go to Si and Ali (cooking apple suppliers), Steve L and Mike (Keith Floyd impersonators), Rhoda (crumble queen), and Bruce (trolley dolly). Nobody stayed up too late, as the fresh air, sun and exercise had apparently wiped most people out.

Chris the Crab is on a diet, so please don’t feed him. (Zoe)

What the eye doesn’t see, the chef gets away with. (Andy M)

Keith Floyd impersonators.

On Sunday the weather was just as nice, which meant breakfast on the terrace. The group then split up for a number of activities. The climbers (Paul, Simon H and Steve C) went to Three Cliffs Bay for the classic route Scavenger (VS 4c). Steve led this with Paul and Simon seconding – Simon did very well considering he hasn’t climbed a great deal, and even did the layback section once he was told what laybacking was. He also took a great 10 foot swing into the cave while being lowered down from the top, to the others’ amusement.

Rhoda, Bob, Si, Ali and Julie went surfing at Rhossili beach and had a fantastic time. Bob didn’t get off to a great start when he put his wetsuit on the wrong way round, and made a very quick retreat to the changing rooms when Rhoda loudly pointed this out to the world (that Sartorial Elegance award is surely his for the taking). Although the surf wasn’t ideal they managed to stand up on the boards, even if one person had to be aided by the other four. Rhoda and Bob then joined the climbers at Three Cliffs, and Bob led Scavenger as well.

Let my people go surfing, er, sort of. (Zoe)

It’s a surf board, not a diving board. (Zoe)

Sunday’s walk. (Bruce)

On the beach. (Bruce)

Claire, Alan, Joanne, Steve L, Belinda, Bruce, Sarah and Annie went to Penmaen and walked up Cefn Bryn, the highest point on the peninsula, for some excellent if slightly hazy views. They then circled down to Oxwich Bay, had the option of a precipitous scramble over Great Tor, and walked round the coast to Three Cliffs Bay for more swimming and beach cricket, enlivened by Alan’s ongoing commentary. He went a bit quiet when Joanne bowled him out, an event which made her day (or possibly her week, or month – never underestimate sibling rivalry!).

Andy and Mike went biking, an event partially witnessed from the cliff tops by the walking party as they hurtled down the path to Oxwich Bay and promptly sank into the sand. Once they let their tyres down, they were able to continue. Andy also went for his first ever proper swim in the sea (you’d never guess he grew up on the coast), and it was agreed that they’ll have to go again to do the circuit the right way round…

Top weekend. The weather turned out to be as glorious as predicted, just what we needed after an iffy summer, and we all made the most of it.

Sarah Davies (with contributions from Andy M, Mike, Paul W and Rhoda)

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