Weekend in South Wales

We visited South Wales this weekend. It’s incredible actually – after 2.5 weeks in the UK, this was the first rainy weekend we had. But the wet hardly dampened our moods; South Wales is incredibly beautiful and has coasts that rival that of its namesake, New South Wales in Australia.

Our base for the Saturday was at a bed and breakfast in the town of Swansea. After we arrived in the afternoon, we took a stroll through Singleton Park and the University of Swansea to the promenade where we picked our way across the wet flat banks of Swansea Bay towards Mumbles. It was low tide, and the beach seemed to stretch for miles; we could hardly see the finger of water beyond.

Walking the promenade, Swansea to Mumbles
Walking the promenade, Swansea to Mumbles

It was close to 6pm by the time we finished the walk, but daylight was for another 3.5 hours and the rain clouds had parted. So we picked up some sandwiches and drove to Three Cliffs for a hike to Pennard Castle.

It’s a stunning walk. We clambered across steep sand dunes to access the beach…

…And up another series of sand dunes to get to the 12th century Pennard Castle, from where we were afforded a bird’s eye view of the entire Three Cliffs Bay.

We weren’t paying attention to the tides though. By the time we got back down to the beach, the fast rising waters had already covered most of the sand, completely blocking our path back to the carpark.

We approached a guy pulling along a fishing kayak on the opposite bank, to ask if there were an alternate path back – and also in hopes that he would give us a short lift back across the other side of the beach. While he didn’t offer the lift (ah well), he did point out a rather circuitous route back towards the castle ruins we had just clambered down from.

Hiking Gower Peninsula
Our high tide route back up to the car park from Three Cliffs Bay, through the woods

It was raining when we awoke on Sunday – drizzly with intermittent downpour. We kitted up and drove out to Rhossili Bay, reputed as the most beautiful bay in South Wales. Even in the mist and rain, it was stunning. Long, even sets of waves rolled into the bay below us, where dozens of surfers trekked down to surf.

During low tides, one could hike down to Worms Head, seen in the background in our photo below. But after our near mis-adventures the day before, and given that it was still mid-tide, we turned back around at the top of the cliff before the descend down.

Rhossili
View of Worms Head from Rhossili Bay

Driving back towards London, we stopped by Cardiff to visit Cardiff Castle. The site has stood through history from Roman times to the age of the Normans (when the keep was built) to the Victorian era where the sumptuously decorated rooms still stand, and then to WWII where the townsfolk of Cardiff sought refuge between the thick city walls during air raids.

Arab Room in Cardiff Castle
The stunning Arab Room in Cardiff Castle. At the top and centre of each stained glass window are crystal balls to better reflect the light streaming into the cosy room
Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle

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