178 Oxwich to Port-Eynon

The morning is drizzly-dull, and the BBC predicts a rainy afternoon. I try to avoid walking in pouring rain if I can, so I decide to park in Oxwich and walk the short distance to  Port-Eynon, from where I hope to catch a bus back to my car.

The walk starts from the beach, following a wooded slope and rising slowly towards Oxwich Point. I soon come across St. Illtyd’s Church. What a beautiful setting! Oxwich Church, Ruth Livingstone walking the Wales Coast Path The church stonework looks very new to my untrained eyes, but later I discover the tower dates from the 14th century and was added to the original 13th century church. A few yards further along, and as the path begins to climb steeply, I hear sounds of chatter behind me. On this dull Friday, I wasn’t anticipating having to share my path with others, and I feel strangely resentful. The younger couple are walking faster than me, so I step aside to let them pass. walkers in Oxwich Wood, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Gower I’m ashamed to say it gives me an uncharitable sense of satisfaction to see them making hard work of climbing the steps.

When I reach the top they have disappeared, and I think must have returned to Oxwich along a different footpath. Glad to be alone, I continue along the Wales Coast Path, enjoying the silence of the woods. empty woods, Ruth walking towards Oxwich Point, South Wales The path sometimes runs along the edge of farmland. In the fields I see young lambs – lovely. And a trig point. Welsh sheep, near Oxwich and trig point, Ruth hiking in Wales On my left, and below, is the sea. I can hear waves crashing. But trees interrupt the view until I come to a gap and can look across Oxwich Bay. In the dull light I can just make out the beach and dunes of yesterday’s walk. Sadly I can’t take a decent photograph. is this Oxwich Point, Ruth walking in Gower, South Wales A little further on and I reach the tip of the peninsula, Oxwich Point. The path leaves the woods and I walk through vibrant gorse, stopping to take a self-portrait photo.  Ruth Livingstone, self portrait on Oxwich Point, Gower Peninsula And then onwards. Ahead is Port-Eynon Bay. Somewhere in all that dull mist is Port-Eynon village – I can just make out the beach in the distance. Port Eynon Bay, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path Below me is a foreshore of jumbled grey rocks. Holy’s Wash, according to my map. Holy's Wash rocks, Port Eynon Bay, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path And I come across this pretty little cove – called, fittingly, The Sands.  The Sands, Ruth walking towards Port Eynon, Wales Coast Path, Gower The bright red sign is unmissable on this dull day. DANGER! FOOTPATH CLOSED.  footpath closed diversion, Port-Eynon Bay, Ruth on Wales Coast Path The cliff ahead has crumbled. Oh, no. What a shame. It’s the first footpath closure sign I’ve seen for a long time. Luckily, there is a well signposted diversion in place.

diversion sign, Ruth hiking in Wales, Gower This is an excellent sign, unlike many I come across. It’s waterproof and readable. And, for once, I can actually locate the proposed new route on my Ordnance Survey Map. Although I do notice the map on the sign calls the little cove ‘Slade Bay’, not ‘The Sands’.

I also notice the signs says ‘TEMPORARY FOOTPATH DIVERSION’. Judging from the rusty nails, I think the diversion may have become rather more permanent than first intended.

After heading inland, the diverted path makes an almost 360 degree turn. It’s an oddly shaped route. I work it out and realise the diverted path goes around the borders of a triangular field – a very long and thin triangle of a field. I can only think the farmer declined to allow the footpath to take the shorter, and more logical route, straight across his land – despite the fact I can see no crops growing and no livestock on the grass. end of diversion, Port-Eynon Bay, Ruth walking the Gower Onwards. And I come across the first human being I’ve seen since the walkers in the woods by the church. A fisherman is perched on the rocks below me. Fisherrman, near Horton, Ruth walking in Port-Eynon Bay Ahead are the sands of Port-Eynon beach. Port-Eynon Beach, Ruth walking in Gower, South Wales I leave the path as soon as I can, to walk along the shore. In the distance I see a group of people. As I get closer, I realise they are youngsters. What they’re doing isn’t clear, because they aren’t wearing swimming or surfing kit. Neither are they playing games. Some of them seem to be holding clipboards.  young people on beach, Port-Eynon Bay, Ruth's coastal walk I walk past them and reach the far end of the beach. Sand gives way to rocks. One of the houses ahead is a Youth Hostel. What a lovely place to stay. far end of beach at Port-Eynon, Ruth's coastal walk, Gower I’ve already decided to extend my trip by a few days and am tempted to enquire if they have a free room. But I’m a little old for communal living and will try to find a B&B instead.

With 1/2 hour to wait before the bus arrives, I head back into Port-Eynon to find a café.  And discover the group of young people have left the beach and are waiting for a bus too. They must have been staying here for a few days, because they’re lugging huge cases and heavy rucksacks. I begin to worry there won’t be room for all of us on the bus. Port-Eynon beachside cafe, Ruth's coastal walk in Wales The first café doesn’t do proper coffee, only instant. What??!! The second one offers ground coffee from a machine. That’s fine by me and it tastes good too. A cup with two Welsh cakes costs me £2.00. Great value.

The online BBC weather forecast is usually pin-point accurate. And so it proves to be today. As I finish my coffee, the rain begins to fall. I find the official bus stop. It has a shelter decorated with cheerful murals.  bus shelter, Port-Eynon, Ruth walking the Welsh coast As usual I’m worrying about bus times. Traveline Cymru shows very few buses serving Port-Eynon, but there was one due to arrive at 13:12pm. The first bus to pass by is a private coach. It doesn’t stop at my bus stop, but returns a few minutes later and passes by again, laden with the children that I saw waiting by the café. Oh. I’m relieved to see they’re not catching my bus, after all.

When my bus arrives, shortly after 13:15, it is empty. And I remain the only passenger for the entire journey back to Oxwich.

Walked today = 5.5 miles
Total distance = 1,772 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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8 Responses to 178 Oxwich to Port-Eynon

  1. paul and carol sennett says:

    the gorse in flower looks amazing on this walk…. as it has all month on walks we have followed from your site in Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall.. real eye opener how colourful the coast is in May versus High Summer.

  2. Marie Keates says:

    It looks like a beautiful walk despite the rain. Being all alone on the bus is one of the reasons there are so few of them I’m afraid. In rural areas so few people use them they become horrendously unprofitable for the companies running them and the government has rules against using profits from a busy service to fund an unprofitable one.

    • Some of the routes seem to be subsidised by the local council, or so I gather. One of the difficult things for a walker is getting the timing right. Sometimes, there are only a couple of buses running a day. It’s the law of diminishing returns: the less frequently a bus runs, the less people feel they can rely on them, the less they use them, the less frequently the bus runs, the less people feel they can rely on them… etc.

  3. Ros Bellamy says:

    Hi Ruth, really enjoying your blog, and as a solo woman walker many comments ring true. But please don’t think you’re too old for a youth hostel! That’s where solo walkers or cyclists can meet like-minded souls, discuss the day’s wanderings over a glass of wine and get ideas for future travels. For those of us on a budget it makes long trails much more affordable. I’ve met some lovely fellow 60 somethings and that’s given me confidence to try more independent walking. Hope you enjoy the rest of Wales – Pembrokeshire is superb!

    • Hi Ros, and thank you for your insights into youth hostels. It’s the thought of shared dorms that frightens me the most. But perhaps I’m being too fussy! I’m a little behind in my blogging (been too busy walking) and am please to report I have just reached the beginning of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It really is wonderful 🙂

  4. Mandy Lewis says:

    Walked it last Thursday. From port eynon to Oxwichbay. I am not one for walking. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am looking forward to walking the route when we return to the area. But next time I will bus to Oxwichbay and walk back to port eynon, to walk the wood first. Get those steps over with first. Absolutely stunning scenery.

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