Wales has great natural beauty. Having heard so much about how beautiful the Gower peninsula is, the week came the time to explore it for ourselves. Our short week in this beautiful part of Wales did not disappoint. Exploring it with my brood was great fun, perfect for bonding with little modern life distractions. I had no agenda for the week, just to chill and enjoy the outdoors with the kids.
When I asked friends on twitter what they’d suggest the two suggestions that were echoed:
Go to Rhossili beach and Oxwich beach!
… so we did, but first…
Worm’s Head & rockpooling
The day after our tedious trip from Oxford, the kids and I were raring to go. We were headed to the world famous Rhossili beach…but we never actually made it to the beach!
First, the satnav took us to Hill End, where you walk down via sand dunes. But I wanted to visit the National Trust information centre, so we drove 12 miles for a 2.5 mile distance as the crow flies; something not unusual in Wales.
At Rhossili itself I decided we’ll walk towards Worm’s Head instead of down to the beach. This was an incredibly lucky decision, as it turned out the route to the beach from Rhossili, we heard later, is a steep climb, with the bottom bit of the bit of the path having been swept away by winds and waves.
The path from the National Trust shop to the Coastguard station is toddler and pushchair friendly (not that I had the later with me).
We had our picnic lunch on the clifftop overlooking Rhossili beach and Worm’s Head. It was gorgeous, even with the toddler threatening to run towards the very big drop down the cliffs. Thankfully, by this time, he was wearing his adventure-ready LittleLife rucksack and I could grab hold of him by the handle. (I’ve written before about this little gem of a rucksack for toddlers.)
The path down to the causeway is well-maintained and Max was happy walking it with little help from me or his siblings. The crossing over the causeway to the Island is involved scrambling over some vicious looking rocks and a lot of them. Not something I would attempt, unless carrying the toddler in a backpack, which I hadn’t bought with me for our “day at the beach”.
There were plenty rock pools on the causeway to Worm’s Head too. We spent nearly 2 hours with our feet in luke warm sea water searching for critters in the rockpools.
We found crabs and sea anemome, lots of snails and seaweeds.
The day as a single parent had its ups and downs:
It’s probably not a great idea to keep potty training toddler in pants. We went through 5 changes of trousers & 6 plants . I’d hear Max say “mummy, toilet”, but realise he’s informing me he’s done it already. I explained the basic principles of needing to go and not going in your pants. I’m sure he understand, but I suspect Max finds it funny to have wee running down his legs.
Plenty of snacks and drinks were needed and the chocolate digestives were a great incentive for an exhausted toddler walking back to the car.
The National Trust shop also loans out a GPS for geocaching. We borrowed one, but the lady at the shop was not very helpful and didn’t explain properly what we had to do, how to use the GPS. In fact, she forgot to remind me of the time I needed to get the device back to them (5pm), which was their closing time and coincidentally the time the causeway was safely accessible too. We arrived back to a closed shop, so had to return the GPS the following day. Frustrating also because we had just carried the device around with us after failing to understand how to operate it. I have to say this was our first negative experience of National Trust staff not really on the ball and I was very surprised.
The day was a warm 20C, but showers were forecast throughout. Staying in Campy would’ve led to cabin fever and unimaginable squabbles, so off we headed to Rhossili beach itself.
The beach is accessed from Hill End through the camp- and caravansite. Parking cost us £4 for the day.
Armed with a rucksack each, me, learning from our Worm’s Head walk, taking the carrier rucksack, we took the path through the sand dunes to the world famous Rhossili beach. It was almost low tide when we got there, with the tide still going out. The huge expanse of beach, as you emerge from between the sand dunes, is beautiful.
We walked down to the water’s edge and then headed towards the opposite end of Worm’s head: the islet of Burry Holms. It was a good 2 hour walk till we reached the far end of the beach, but all the way along excited children had to be ushered out of the water, so only the bottom of their rolled up trousers were wet.
As we walked along, we spotted a couple of mussels being washed up by the waves and I remembered my friend from The Boy and Me blog telling me about collecting these to eat. I found some nappy sacks and the competition began on who could collect more live mussels. They were destined to be our dinner.
At the base of Burry Holms there were some great rockpools. Hugo found a star fish in one of the pools, which was gently handled by each child and then put back.
As we’d been on our feet for nearly 3 hours it was time for picnic of fruit, raisins and chocolate digestives. Not that the kids were really interested in abandoning their rockpools for food.
Just before we stopped Max had fallen asleep in the LittleLife Carrier. He had an hour nap, while I put my feet up and watched and listened to happy children enjoying the sand and the sea in barefeet, feecy tops and raincoats.
Walking back I decided to wake Max and bribe him with biscuits to walk back. We walked along the top tide line of the beach this time. Here there were different treasures to distract the children from shells to driftwood, to strange rubbish.
We even stumbled on something that I was convinced was an old wooden ship remain. (Later researching it, I realised it was probably the skeletal remains of the Norwegian barque Helvetia, which was driven onto the beach in a gale in 1887.)
The walk back gave us views of Worm’s Head, Rhossili and people enjoying the beach at Hill End. We stood and watched the kitesurfers in awe at times, talked and played “race you”…. Mostly to get Max to hurry up a little.
The sand on the beach both at the tide line or at the waterline was fairly compacted so walking was easier than on soft dry sand.
This was a perfect day to walk- when it rained we were half wet anyway, sometimes even the sun came out. I did think that if a thunderstorm came, we’d have been in trouble with the big open space and no one around us.
The forecast was for variable weather, but I mostly planned a day at the beach, whatever the weather. We were lucky: it ended up being a beautiful beach day.
Oxwich Beach can be reached by more than one road and I think my Sat Nav took me the most scenic, windy and narrowest way. We parked up at the west end of the beach, paying £4.50 for parking. (Apparently, this amount decreases as the day goes on.) There’s a small café and toilets at the beach on this end.
We loaded our Outwell transporter up to the brink with beach toys, beach tent, food and drink and drag it along the narrow strip of soft sand, then rolled it comfortably along the harder wet sand to find a spot to pitch up. It was rather busy, but we found a nice front row spot anyway.
The tide was going out and the low tide point is a fair few meters from the high tide point, near which we were sitting. Walking down to the water’s edge was a hike, but well worth it with the shallow warmish waters and very gradual deepening of the sea. The kids loved running and splashing in the knee deep waters.
On the next walk down to the water I brought our transporter with some toys, drinks and towels. By then the tide was coming in and almost caught me off guard
The beautiful golden sand and the speckling of different sized rocks provides the children with lots of opportunity to express their creativity in the structures they build.
If the weather hadn’t been as kind, the two ends of Oxwich beach also provide great rockpooling. There is watersports equipment for hire from the near the café.
We had a wonderful day! Max had a nap in the UV tent, they all played in the sand and water. At one point Hugo was pretending to be a sea turtle coming in to lay her eggs. It was rather cute to see just how much he remembers for a documentary we watched a couple of weeks back. Just proves what big sponges of knowledge children are!
These 3 days were the highlight of our trip to the Gower peninsula.
Do you have a favourite beach?
This article first appeared on Mum on the brink blog