Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Gower Way

There are lots of long distant walks in the UK and I’ve sampled bits of several of them.  The Gower Way, designated to mark the Millennium, is a relative newcomer and a mere 35 miles long.  Starting at Rhosilli, it winds its way along the spine of the peninsula, ending up a couple of miles north of the Upper Lliw Valley reservoir.  As long distance walks go, it’s a baby.

It’s best to walk it in summer, when the countryside is awash with wildlife, but in winter, the views can be spectacular, especially when there’s snow on distant hills.  From the small village of Reynoldston, I climb the hill to the top of Cefn Bryn, turn right onto the Way and head for Penmaen, hoping for a coffee at a friend’s house.  To the south, the entire expanse of Oxwich Bay shines in weak winter sun and I make out the distant shapes of snow-covered hills in Devon and Somerset.  I climb a little more for a better view to the north.  The Carmarthenshire hills and distant Brecon Beacons, also shrouded in snow, look bleak and rugged.  To the west the outline of the Pembrokeshire coast is barely visible; I’m not sure if the snow reached that far.  Below, just a mile or so away, Broad Pool is frozen.  I peer through binoculars for signs of wildlife, but see no movement.

It’s cold and I need to walk quickly to escape the chill.  The few feathery remains of a bird-kill suggest a pipit, but there’s no hint of the killer.  Recent snow has flattened the usually tough grasses on the moor, but many clumps remain upright, their base surrounded by rings of cracked ice. 

There’s no one at home for my hot drink and I head off, still on The Way, for the shelter of Park Woods down the hill.  In stark contrast the woods are alive with winter thrushes; the protection from the wind warms me, just as well as coffee.

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