It’s not a long walk from the shop in Parkmill to the sea. Recent frosts have made the ground hard underfoot and although the weak winter sun is well above the horizon, little light reaches the path, sheltered by high woodland to the south. I emerge into wintery light and onto firm, grass-covered sand. Pennard Pill looks dark as it flows quickly towards its first bend just a short distance away. Oxbows are uncommon on Gower, but at Three Cliffs Bay there can be several. The first bend of the river is s-shaped, and with high, firm banks, it’s unlikely this will ever form into an oxbow. The river makes a u-turn where Northhill Wood ends, and there’s more of a chance here, but it would need very high spring tides to break through the 60 or so yards of solid sand. It’s on the beach that the oxbows form. The sandy expanse of Three Cliffs Bay is wide; tides and winter gales change its structure daily and oxbows come and go. Today’s sweeps wide across the beach, turning westwards to the north of the tunnel under the famous three cliffs. There’s just enough space to get through and I enter a new world. Pounding surf, salt spray and the smell of the open sea makes it feel good to be a live, and my footprints in the sand are the first of the day.
The tide advances swiftly here and I have to move quickly to round Tor Point. I walk the half-mile to where Nicholaston Pill fans out to the sea. The little river meanders through Oxwich Marsh and years ago fashioned a wonderful oxbow on the beach. In it’s wisdom, The Countryside Council for Wales built a gabion at the point of the oxbow, destroying it and the wonderful view from the ridge high up in Nicholaston Wood.