‘An exhilarating ramble through woodland and along delightful coastline’ is how the walking guide described the 4.5 mile circular walk around Oxwich Point, and after a three hour trek through the less explored part of Gower I couldn’t argue.
A stiff south easterly blew across the Bristol Channel to greet us as we stepped out of the car mid-morning on a Sunday – a great way to clear the head after a glass or two on a Saturday night.
We walked past St Illtyd’s Church, a medieval church built on a site used for Christian worship since the 6th Century, and began our ascent through the ancient woodland. The church is open to visitors during August, and a quick peep inside will reveal a selection of 13th Century monuments including effigies of a knight and his lady.
The ancient woodland clings to the the north-east facing cliff, sheltering it from the prevailing south-westerly wind, but making it quite shady. Part of the Oxwich National Nature Reserve the woods offer a spectacular display of wildflowers in the spring, such as bluebells and ramsons. Budding botanists will also get excited by the several rare species of plants such as the Purple Gromwell, Herb Paris and Butcher’s Broom (or Knee Holly).
Alas, whilst this winter has been rather mild bluebells were out of the question. However, we were treated to a sighting of a rather unusual fungi growing among some moss clinging to old plastic Coke bottle – I know Coca-Cola are big on branding, having turned St Nic red, but red mushrooms?
We continued walking a little while through the woods, up then down, before finally emerging into the bright sunlight and a stunning view out to sea. It literally was breathtaking, or was it the climbing up and down? I pulled out my flask and we stopped for a quick coffee and to enjoy the scene.
After our caffeine fix we were ready to hit the trail again. Thankfully (for the sake of my marriage at least!) the path is easier from this point forward – it’s open, wider and pretty much flat. As you’d expect the views out to sea are brilliant. The sounds, especially the waves crashing on the rocks, soothing (ta-ta syrah!). We walked some way before turning Oxwich Point and gaining our first sight of Port Eynon in the distance.
Beyond this point the coastal path really widens, we’re virtually walking through fields, and being bombarded by constant reminders of why Gower was the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
However, not even the remotest parts of our coastline can escape the effects of life in a throwaway society. The strandline on the pebble beach below was littered with debris, plastic bottles, and this crate!
Not far from where I took this photo, at Slade sands, we stopped again for coffee before heading inland away from the coast and up the hill. A short walk along a track and we picked up the lane leading from Slade back down to Oxwich, stopping only to admire the fine-looking cows grazing hay in the paddock of a farm.
Our ramble was exhilarating, the coastline delightful, and we shall definitely be returning to this part of the Wales coastal path again, maybe in May to check out those bluebells!