Saturday, 5 August 2017


The route of the old Mumbles Railway from Swansea to Oystermouth has long been paved over, and is now very popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and roller skaters. At County Hall, the path is open to the elements, with just a line of mature pine trees slightly hiding the massive structure of the building.  It’s early morning, there’s little wind, and high tide is about an hour away. The inshore sea glitters, merging into a bright haze on the distant horizon.

By the University, woodland and sand dunes obscure the view of the sea, which reappears again near to Blackpill. At this time of day, no children use the paddling pool, but as the sun warms, it will be overflowing with young families enjoying the water, sun and ice cream.

At high water, Blackpill is the place where wading birds congregate; the rising tide pushes them from the vast mudflats in towards the shore at this point. At this time of year, Swansea Bay is a stopover on their autumn migration, but in the glaring light, I can make out just silhouettes in the haze.

Ten minutes more and I’m in Mumbles. Early morning risers pop quickly in and out of the few shops that are open. There’s a real bustle to the place. Shopkeepers prepare for the day, delivery vans empty goods, and the city’s litter pickers are hard at work making the place spick and span for the day’s holidaymakers.

At Oystermouth the first Gower Coast Adventures boat trip of the day prepares to leave the jetty, bound for the south coast and Worm’s Head. The dozen tightly packed passengers, wearing identical life jackets look excited, and on a day like this should have a great trip.

Beyond Nab Rock and the lines of parked yachts, I sit on a bench above the boat slip and realise I’ve walked half a circle, County Hall is now directly opposite, and it’s taken me the best part of an hour.

At the end of the old pier, the new lifeboat house is finished. It took a long time to complete and replaced the traditional one, now too small for the latest vessel. The new lifeboat house is certainly not a thing of beauty, but inside the latest boat is very impressive. I wonder what will happen to the lovely old red and white building, and what they did with the old lifeboat.

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