Breakfast at the hotel started unusually late (at 8:30am), and we decided we couldn’t even be bothered with that early, so we went for 9am. The highlight (cough) was undoubtedly Kip’s discovery that Laver Bread doesn’t contain either bread or molten rocks. Basically, it’s boiled, mushed-up seaweed. It didn’t look very appetising. I reckon it’s one of those things that hotels put on the menu in a tourist area safe in the knowledge that some poor unsuspecting soul will try it just because it’s supposedly a local delicacy. I reckon the locals don’t even eat it themselves – they just like to wind up tourists by pretending they do.
Back at the plot, Sunday was supposed to be “my” day, in that it involved some walking and a few geocaches. I have to say that I managed to make a complete pucky-acky of the whole thing, starting with the discovery that my GPS had been switched on in Kipper’s car on Saturday afternoon, followed by the disappointment of finding that I’d failed to put the charger cable into my caching bag, and finishing with the disgrace of discovering that at some point between Thursday night and Sunday morning the geocaches I’d very carefully loaded onto it had somehow got deleted. The GPS was therefore reduced to the level of being a heavy and slightly unreliable (but at least waterproof) map. Any caching would have to be done on my phone. It’s a good job I’d only planned for us to do 8 or so anyway.
Our plan was to walk from Llangennith over to Rhossili and on to Worm’s Head an then back again – a distance that ought to be about 5 miles each way. Time was an issue all day because the causeway to Worm’s Head is only accessible for a 5 hour period around each low tide, and the only available low tide window during daylight was due to start at 2pm. That’s not a great equation if your walk onto the head and back takes at least 90 minutes and then you’ve got over four miles to walk home across country on a day where darkness arrives at about 4:30pm. Still, what could possibly go wrong, huh?
The first stage of our walk took us from Llangennith over Rhossili Down (where we found 2 normal caches, one YOSM and a completely random bit of tupperware that’s logged on a competitor geocaching website.
The highlight of this stretch (at least for the other three) was watching me slide over not once, but twice, on the wet slope coming down into Rhossili village. I got dirty.
We grabbed a church micro geocache in the village and then made our way to the National Trust office to confirm the tide times. It was about time for a break too, so we retired to a nearby cafe for coffee and cake while I washed my hands and gently shed the layers of drying mud off my trouser legs and onto the floor. Hmm!
From here we made the walk down to the Worm’s Head causeway, stopping to do a further 2 traditional caches and another Earthcache and we found ourselves sitting at the bottom of a cliff waiting for the tide to go out. There were quite a few other people doing the same. They seemed all to be in the “silver surfer” category, not that any of us are exactly spring chickens, but I got the distinct impression that we were among the youngest of those waiting. We had to sit there for a good 40 minutes or so while the water dropped away. The official word was that you’d be able to cross at 2 pm. Some of the old geezers started to make their way down and across at about ten to, so we obviously packed up and followed them.
The walk out along Worm’s Head was quite challenging. The initial causeway was only just draining as we walked across, so we had to keep rerouting to find a dry way through, plus the rocks themselves were rather jagged. Beyond a certain point, the rocks got a bit easier and we were mainly skipping through smaller rocks encrusted with barnacles and surrounded by loads of little mussels, which made the underfoot conditions much more grippy. At the first island, it was a straightforward walk around the grass. Kip and Stevie took the hardcore option of walking over the top rather than around the side, obviously.
At the far end of the Inner Head the walk becomes quite tricky as you have to scramble over some very rough rocks that are full of deep crevasses. The rocks themselves are sedimentary and have been folded such that the cleavage lies at a 70% angle to the flat. This makes it extremely uneven to try to walk over, and quite slow going.
From there you go around the middle head and arrive at the Devil’s Bridge – a naturally formed bridge in the limestone that’s the site of an Earthcache called Little Bridges #886 Devils Bridge. When I was planning the walk, this was as far as I thought it was reasonable to try to go, but of course opnce you’re out there it’s very tempting to go further, so we did. We made it all the way out onto the Outer Head. Kip and Stevie attempted to climb up to the highest point (they didn’t quite make it) while me and Jimmy decided that time was marching on and that we had gone far enough already to claim we’d “done it”, so we turned and started going back. It had taken most of an hour to get to the Outer Head from dry land, so we estimated that turning around and returning would put us back on land just before 4 pm. We didn’t want to leave it too late because we didn’t fancy trying to cross the causeway in failing light, even if the tide was well out.
As it happened, Kip and Steve caught up with us again (and overtook me) going back across that rocky ridge again and then surged ahead over the causeway to get back well ahead of me. In any case it took us a good 15 minutes less to get back than it had to get out. The causeway had become a good bit easier.
Back at the cafe, we decided to grab a quick drink and snack to keep us moving. Somehow, whilst standing in the queue in the cafe, I turned around and the end of my walking pole (which poking out of the top of my bag) managed to surgically remove a flatbread from the top of a bowl of kedgeree without causing the waitress to drop the bowl of kedgeree. I bet I couldn’t do that again if I tried. I decided it wouldn’t be a great idea to suggest that the “five second rule” applied, so I apologised as politely as I could manage and went to stand outside in disgrace. The poor waitress seemed at a bit of a loss for what to do before eventually deciding to go back and do another flatbread. Sorry! I didn’t realise you were there.
So after a quick drink we started the remaining couple of miles back home. For this leg, as it was now getting fairly gloomy, we decided we’d walk along the raised beach under Rhossili Down rather than going back over the top. It looked safer and easier to follow in the dark. I learned later that it’s not a raised beach, it’s a solifluction terrace caused by slumping of the cliff above during a previous era when the cliff face was subjected to regular freeze-thaw cycles. This has been made to look like a raised beach as the sea now is gradually undercutting it as it forms the rather lovely Rhossili Beach.
Back at the plot, we set off down a path that looked nice from above but proved to be a quagmire, so we backtracked a little and descended down a road that at least had hardcore on it until we got onto the level just above the beach. From here it was a flat walk (if somewhat long) to the other end of the beach and an entrance into the bottom end of a massive caravan park. We then had a seemingly very long walk through the caravans and then along a surprisingly long access road back up into Llangennith. By the time we got back home we’d walked nearly 12 miles and had been out for nearly 7 hours, although we weren’t exactly walking quickly for much of that. It was completely dark anyway.
We reconvened in the hotel restaurant (or was it the lounge) half an hour later, having done our best to wash away the dodgy smells. I managed to neck a pint of orange and lemonade in double quick time, ‘cos my mouth was drier than a pharaoh’s sock, and then we got into the now traditional evening activities of drinking beer, eating food and playing cards. In my case the beer went quite slowly, and I wasn’t very hungry. I ordered some onion rings and nachos and then picked my way through them with no great enthusiasm (and with much abuse from Kip, as I wasn’t eating the jalapenos, which constitutes a serious failing, apparently). I think I ended up leaving half of them. I just wasn’t hungry.
After a while, and after the boys had pudding, we retired to the bar (definitely a bar in the other side – there’s a jukebox, a pool table, and they let dogs in), for a couple more drinks and a journey through an eclectic mix of music on the jukebox courtesy of DJ Kip, while Stevie, Jimmy and me pretended we could play pool. Some of us were better at pretending than others were. It did feel a bit like being a student again though, especially when the barman told us not to put any more money in the pool table because he wanted to go home. It wasn’t even 11 pm though. They evidently don’t do late opening on a Sunday, even if you are staying there.