Fling down those books and flee westwards to explore the real Wales! Last month I was on the Gower and make the trek out to the Worm’s Head…
Cardiff is in the perfect location to get out and do some exploring. Postgraduates definitely have time to venture out and do some exploring, and Wales has a lot to offer. The Brecon Beacons are just a short trip on the train, offering Pen y Fan peak and the Merthyr waterfalls. But I recommend the Gower! A bus or train’ll get you to Swansea and from there it’s a short bus ride to get onto the peninsula which was the first area in the UK to be declared an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Gower has everything, from marshes and vast sandy beaches to eerie common land and seaside resorts complete with arcades and piers.
Port Eynon is great for camping and has a YHA right on the beach. There’s also a great fish and chip shop. In summer this place gets completely packed, but students should definitely take advantage of weekend or few days away outside of the school holidays. I was lucky. My latest Gower venture was with my family and we stayed in the village of Oxwich. Oxwich has a vast beach, with woods either side and a small mountain range of sand dunes interrupting bridged creaks and mudflats. There’s also a very trendy restaurant right on the beach. Before my epic instalment about my adventure at Worm’s head, I’ll just throw in something about the kitten. My little brother had to bring his kitten because she’d just had her injections and wasn’t allowed outside. I’ve included a pic of her sitting in the bath. Her name’s Knoa.
At the tip of the Gower is Worm’s Head, a stack of rock joined to the mainland by a spinal natural causeway negotiable on foot during low tide. The tidal island gets its name from the Vikings who christened it ‘wurm’ meaning ‘dragon’- apparently from the south coast of Wales they reckoned it looked like a dragon or sea serpent. Rhosili Beach is a vast and windy expanse of sand and cliff popular with sporty types. Whenever you go you’ll be able to see people gliding or racing about on the sand in land sails. The remains of the Helvetia ship can be seen jutting out of the sand. The beach was named one of the most beautiful in Europe and scenes in Doctor Who were shot here- have a Google for Rhosili and you’ll find a picture of the Tardis and David Tenant both looking windswept and battered.
From Rhosili village walk out to the National Coast-watch Institution’s look out point. Worm’s Head is a beautiful but extremely dangerous place, so always check the information board on the path that leads off the edge of the land before setting off. Usually you have 4 hours between tides- it sounds like a lot of time. But it’s a real scramble over jagged rocks, small muddy eroded cliffs, slimy rock pools and finally over the Devil’s Bridge. The Bridge is natural walkway, with frightening drops either side. Once over the bridge watch out for blow holes where the sea forces air and water through tiny cracks in the stone at amazing speed and pressure.
Climbing up the almost 90 degree face of the stack made this exercise shy postgraduate feel extremely athletic. But getting down again proved much trickier and I envied the dog whose owner made a harness out of two leads and lowered the yapping mutt safely to the grassy knoll at the foot of the stack. From the top of the rock there is an amazing view. You can see the adjoining small islands and spine of the natural causeway reaching back to the land but you feel almost as though you were in the middle of the sea. Cardiff seems thousands of miles away when you’re perched on this small sea battered rock. After making it back to the mainland safely, make a beeline for the Worm’s Head Hotel for fish and chips and a pint of some Welsh beer. You’ll have earned it after making it out to the Worm’s Head and back!