Surf's up on storm-lashed Gower
Jo Barnes takes a short drive down the M4 to Gower.
What did you do for the Jubilee? We went surfing in driving rain, survived sensational storm lashed nights under canvas and found the most fantastic pub with the biggest and juiciest steaks this side of the Pond with its own brewery out the back!
Let me explain.
Feeling ever so slightly adventurous, eager to see if our tent was still in one piece and wanting to make the most of four days off work, we decided on a jaunt to Gower.
Gower is a little piece of almost forgotten Wales just past Swansea – a not very long drive from Gwent.
We set off on Saturday morning. It was sunny and warm and the fingers were crossed that the weather forecasters had got it wrong for the rest of the weekend, when they were promising rain – and lots of it.
The first lesson we learnt on arrival was not to believe what the websites say. We’d wanted to camp at Hillend, at Llangennith. ‘Just turn up, we don’t take bookings’ was the basic message from the website – so we did, and they were full.
A not-very-helpful staff member just looked at us and said: “Well, it is a bank holiday!”
Yes, I said, that is why I wanted to pre-book. No worries though – I managed to coax out of her directions to another campsite a few miles down the road at Kennexton, who despite being full were helpful in the extreme – even phoning another local site to see it they had space (they did) and then giving us great directions on how to get there.
The campsite we were to stay at was at Llanmadoc, right on the coast. Slightly ‘back to basics’ would be an apt description but that didn’t matter once the tent was erected and the barbecue was fired up.
Then the rain came. We huddled up inside as the storm lashed the coast hoping it would have passed by the morning – when one of our group was off to learn to surf.
Morning dawned and with it no rain. However, that wasn’t to last.
After going off to explore the countryside, we headed to Llangennith where the surf lesson was to take place. By this time, the rain was again lashing down, the hills surrounding the beach were swathed in cloud and it was cold.
But when the time came to register with the Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School the weather had cleared, it had warmed up a touch – and about 20 people were waiting to be kitted out with wet suits before heading through the dunes to the pounding surf.
Matt, 18, has always hankered for a surfing lesson. He’s pestered us everytime we’ve been near the sea and now was his chance – on a sodden June Sunday afternoon, which felt more like February.
Mike, the instructor, and his trusty dog Bob, led the crowd of would-be surfers down to the beach. We followed, camera in hand, and wrapped up in every coat we had in the car.
So followed three hours of Matt having great fun in the sea learning the basics – and us standing on the beach getting wetter and wetter as again the rain came at us horizontally across the churning surf.
Matt thoroughly enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to do it again – in slightly better conditions next time.
After a warming hot chocolate at Eddy’s Cafe- Bar next to the beach, we headed back to our tent to pull on dry clothes before setting out for dinner.
We’d overheard some of the other surfers talking about a pub called The Greyhound at Old Walls, so decided to go there.
What a find. This place was rammed to bursting with people eating delicious looking homemade food. And when it came to ordering our drinks, we were delighted to find that the pub housed a brewery – Gower Ales – and it’s brews were absolutely delicious. Fantasic food (the 16oz steaks were a real experience) and real ale straight from the barrel out the back – what more could you possibly want after a hard day son-surf watching!
Gower is a haven for people who enjoy the outdoor things in life. There are some splendid walks both inland and along the coastal path.
There are water sports galore or if you fancy something a bit more soothing, you can just sit and watch the world go by either on the beach or in the beautiful countryside. As long as you are prepared, the weather really doesn’t make any difference. We know we’ll be going back to enjoy even more that this marvellous unspoilt area has to offer.