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" Swansea 3 - A walk to Three Cliffs Bay "
Date & start time: Friday 7th April 2017, 11.15 am start
Location : Parkmill Valley, Gower, Swansea, Uk ( SN 544 892 )
Places visited : Parkmill Valley, Three Cliffs Bay and Parkmill Heritage Centre.
Walk details : 2 miles, 150 ft of ascent, 1 hours 20 mins.
Highest point : On the raised beach of Three Cliffs Bay and the head of the mill leat.
Walked with : Gill Holgate, Cathy and Alexander, Ann and our dogs, Harry and Dylan.
Weather : Sunshine and blue skies . . . slightly hazy.
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In between visiting our super new grandson over the weekend before Easter,
we also met up with more of the family and with friends and enjoyed several walks on Gower.
Firstly, on Friday morning, we headed down to Parkmill for a walk down the valley to Three Cliffs Bay.
Our daughter Cathy and Alexander, Gill Holgate (Ann's ex-school colleague) and Ann of course.
Having parked at the Parkmill Heritage Centre we were setting off for an out and back visit to the sea.
The iconic Shepherds Shop on the main south Gower road.
Purveyors of fine ice cream on a hot day . . . a general store and coffee shop on the way to and fro many a walk.
We cross over the road and find our way to the small river bridge over the Ilston Valley stream.
It appears that they've been upgrading the signage and improved some of the path here in the valley since our last visit.
[ We're in Wales of course so the signs are in two languages.]
The walk starts down the valley in a rather nice dappled woodland.
At its edge the blackthorn are showing off their new spring flowers.
The blossom is wide open as a result of the warm sunshine.
Gower appears to be ahead of the Lake District in its new spring vegetation, but then it is 300 miles further south.
The valley opens out into a flat-bottomed, sandy environment.
The sands of time have been blown up the river estuary by the prevailing winds and now carpet the valley floor.
The river, once a harbour overseen by Pennard Castle above, has a meandering river only fit now for canoe travel.
Gill strides out, passing on the option of a paddle herself.
As the river meanders it passes close to the left hand valley side.
In my youth you had to 'chance' your way along a muddy river bank . . . then they built a boardwalk alongside the river.
Now that has been removed and a high level path cut into the river bank gives a safer, wider path that will be available at all states of the tide.
We walk down the new path, well clear of the river and its crumbling banks.
A view of the sea ahead as we leave the valley and enter the bay.
There's a raised stone beach across the majority of the valley and the area behind is now a reasonably dry salt marsh.
Alexander surfing or skateboarding his way into a picture.
Behind him the bay opens out to beautiful golden sands on the other side of the river and a stone and clay river washed area on this side.
Finally the river takes a wide sweep around the bay and passes alongside the three rock pinnacles that give the bay its name.
Someone has built a driftwood sculpture on the back of the beach . . . very artistic.
On the green field at the top of the cliff is possibly the best camping and caravan site in Gower . . . Penmaen's Three Cliffs site
There's a path directly down to the stepping stones over the river which gives access to the sandy beach to our left.
There has been a simple stone maze in the valley for years . . . certainly ever since the hippy days of the 1970's.
Pennard Castle has been here a lot longer than that though.
Its origins date back to the invasion of this area by Henry de Beaumont, the Earl of Warwick,
who pushed west and conquered the Gower Peninsula after the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066.
This is the view back up the valley from one of the bends in the river.
The stone castle was built by the De Braoses family in the 13th or 14th century.
Good old Wikipedia gives a more interesting appraisal of the castle's history than I can give here.
My eyes were drawn once again to the driftwood on the back of the beach with the tunnel through Three Cliffs.
When the tide is high the water surges through the cave . . . most spectacular on a stormy day.
Too much photography . . . not enough paying attention to the group . . . where are they ?
They are heading back to the valley path . . . time to catch them up.
Plenty of people and dogs enjoying the valley walk today.
We didn't see anyone on the newly created path on the other side of the river . . . perhaps it is not well known enough yet.
With the path improvements comes a new bridge over the Parkmill stream.
Using this and the stepping stones down on the beach I can see a new walk for next time we are down on Gower.
Back in the woodlands and we return to the damp woodland flora . . . here early growth of flag iris.
The first flowers of the wild garlic . . . the aroma was superb.
Across the main road and we head back to the Heritage Centre to complete the round walk.
A slightly modern stone circle in the foreground . . . and yes, a vineyard on the hillside behind the houses.
There's enough vines there hopefully to produce a bottle or three of Welsh wine.
The centre is home to a small collection of more unusual farm animals for the visitors to enjoy.
These are Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep if my powers of investigation are correct !
The Gower Heritage Centre is based around the old water mill in the village of Parkmill.
It has a classic ford across the stream . . . saved as a result of a road bridge that was created for the re-aligned main road we had crossed previously.
Inside the main building the water wheel was turning to show how the mill worked.
The notice says the mill survived because it was unusually both a corn mill and a wood mill.
Behind is the mill stream and the path through the centre that we followed up the valley.
We passed hundreds of old farm exhibits
and walked through this animal sanctuary that would be entertaining crowds during the summer.
They have a working woollen loom making fabric on sale at the shop.
It is housed on one side of of a large exhibition room.
Outside more old farm equipment . . . an early Fordson Tractor . . .
. . . and alongside it a caterpillar tractor
and details of the wartime 'Land Army Girls' that helped produce food on the farms of Gower during WWII.
Lunch arrived but by this time we had found alternative tables in the sun and away from the gentle but cool breeze.
(photos by Alexander on my camera)
Sufficient space on this quiet pre-Easter day to spread ourselves.
Here Gill and I are deep in conversation.
Ann and Cathy likewise after our delightful Welsh Rarebit lunch (posh cheese on toast to an ancient recipe).
Perhaps he didn't save any of his crisps to feed the dogs ?
He is being pillaried for his actions . . . placed in the pillory, or the stocks as they are more usually called in these parts.
Will he survive his punishment . . . you'll have to wait and see till our next set of pictures !
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's new Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 Compact System Camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a classic Welsh lunch in an interesting Welsh Heritage Centre.
Previous walk - 7th April 2017 - Swansea 2 - Luke - Our First Pictures
A previous time in the area - 28th Sept 2007 A 2007 visit to Parkmill, Gower and Swansea
Next walk - 8th April 2017 - Swansea 4 - Oxwich Bay