Provided the sea conditions are right, there are beaches on Gower where there’s good surfing at any time of year, and winter is probably the best season. It’s mostly a young people’s sport; my days of feeble attempts to stand up are long gone. At Caswell Bay, the surf looks just right and a dozen black-suited young men sit offshore astride boards, waiting patiently for the swell to increase. There’s a lively surfing community round here, and when ‘the surf’s up’ the grapevine ensures that in no time at all they’re down on the beach. There’s good surfing in Langland Bay too, but the best is off Llangennith on Rhosilli Beach, where there are even live webcams to avoid wasted journeys.
There’s a stiff wind blowing from the shore, which may help keep the surf up, and although they’re protected by wetsuits, these Caswell surfers must at least feel the cold on their faces. There are however hardier souls who bath in the sea every day of the year, and an artist friend has done this at Caswell Bay for as long as I’ve known him. Now in his mid-seventies, George tells me that even in deep winter he doesn’t really feel the cold. Wearing only swimming trunks and a skullcap, he rarely misses a day and looks in remarkable rude health.
I’ve really come to the beach to explore the rocky shore, barnacles cover most of the limestone rocks, and the dozens of perfectly formed rock pools midway up the shore are full of marine life. I sit beside one of the best. Beautiful red seaweeds and purple anemones decorate the edge, tiny prawns swim about freely, but hermit crabs barely show any movement inside their temporary homes. Small blennies, rocklings and pipe fish dart for cover if I move too quickly; I marvel at this perfect little cameo of marine life, but realize there’s a real struggle for survival in this small pool.