Earlier in the year Mark and I spend an evening thinking up a route that we would like to ride in wales, something more than a quick night away. We had seen previous write-ups on the Gower, and having never been there we thought it was a good place to start! Pondering over the printed OS map, with the marker pen in hand we started at the centre of Swansea, knowing that we would be able to park there. We planned and worked out where we would like to stop.. This was by far the best planned microadventure we had done!
Finally, many months later we were loading the bikes into the car and heading west on the M4, it was a bright day, but pretty windy.. whats a bit of wind eh?
Leaving Swansea the route was great, the cycle path to the mumbles was fantastic riding, we stopped to take in the view often as we made good time. Eventually after several miles we pulled around the headland onto the Gower with over 35 miles of mostly off road cycling ahead of us. Initially taking us along the coastal path which started well, but after Caswell Bay turned into a pretty rough trail which was defiantly hike-a-bike terain, We then turned inland on to the high ridge running west, typically, directly into a strong headwind. It was tough going but the views made it worth while!
We made it to Rhossili early evening, exhausted but feeling a great sense of achievement! 35miles off road is a good distance for an afternoons ride 🙂 Thankfully there is a pub where we were able to get a snack and few pints, then back into the wind, which was now at force 7. We had to push the bikes up the 350ft hillside but eventually we were able to ride again, The views were staggering, absolutely stunning. Our first choice for a bivi site was going to be too windy, thankfully our planning paid off and our backup site was just a km further on in the remains of an old WW2 radar station. Once out of the wind we got set on more food. This time it was the delights of British Issue Ration packs, to be fair, the menus we had were pretty rubbish. I think mark would have preferred a burger at the pub.
We were treated to a pretty amazing sunset, the wind eased off a little and we were able to enjoy the last of the day. The old base of the building kept the wind at bay, the grass was soft and comfortable. After 35 miles in the wind I slept really well. It was a weird night.. there was no odd noises, just the wind blowing the sound of the waves on the beach 1/4 mile away. A good nights sleep and by dawn we were looking forward to the second day on the bikes, the wind direction hadn’t changed, and we could go no further to the west so we would be riding with the wind 🙂 First stop was a coffee and bacon roll, all that stood between us and that was the most bumpy and steep downhill (which was a lot of fun!)
Whilst Mark changed a flat tyre several times I made the most of things and cracked on with the coffee 🙂 After fueling up we cracked on with the day. The route took us briefly away from the coast and over Llanmadoc hill and down to the peninsula’s north coast, which is dominated by the vast salt marshes, and flat ground. A small navigation error took us through fields and over gates and stiles, we found the coastal path eventually. With the flatter ground and help from favourable winds we made great progress. Past Castles and small villages we headed towards Gowerton. We somehow managed to cycle past the Gower Brewery without noticing (or sampling)
Gowerton marked the final leg of the ride back to Swansea. The disused railway leads to Clyne woods where the path gently leads you through the stunning ancient woodland back to Swansea bay. Our circle was completed, and we were back earlier than we thought. In this situation there is only one thing to do.. Head for an Ice Cream at the mumbles, just a few miles away.
The Gower is a stunning place to explore, we covered quite a bit of ground but I still feel another visit is needed sometime! Pack up your bike and give it a go!
Video Link – https://vimeo.com/241782111