Whilst Swansea itself is on the water, continue driving for another hour or so west and you’ll soon reach a dramatic and beautiful coastline, complete with blue flag beaches and sweeping cliffs. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors areas such as Rhossili Bay are most certainly for you.
Rhossili Bay (voted into the top four of Britain’s Best Beach by TripAdvisors Travellers’ Choice for four years running AND was the first beach to be awarded Britain’s Best Beach for two years in succession!) and the surrounding area are mostly owned by the National Trust, and therefore funds have been invested so to allow visitor centres, parking and access to important and interesting information about this stretch of the Welsh coastline. Of particular interest here would be Worms Head, a limestone rock formation, said to resemble a dragon and which is home to numerous bird colonies. The worm or ‘wurm’ (an old English word which means dragon) is accessible on foot, but you’ll need to navigate the tides and weather conditions.
In the wind and rain the coastline can look pretty drab and/or harsh and wild. In the sunshine it looks glorious and inviting, calling out to be explored and appreciated as a part of your Swansea Bay Adventure.
Our Down To Earth Project experience was potentially the highlight of our visit to Swansea Bay. Granted the weather stopped us from doing a few other bits we had planned, but even taking that into consideration I still think our Down To Earth experience would have come out on top.
Set in Gower, the Down to Earth site is not the easiest to find, nestled in among a bunch of lovely residential cottages, hidden in plain sight almost. Once found though, Barney and Kate will both wow you with their workspace and set up, and then proceed educate you on environmental ways of living and building.
We started the day with a cuppa (standard) and a walk around the D2E site. This included taking in the different eco power sources and facilities on site – solar panels, boiler , we also took a walk down to see some piggies and give them their morning meal.
Our little walk around the site was followed by a return to my childhood and the climbing of trees. Such a simple activity, but one which gave me an unbridled sense of joy.
Back with feet on ground, next up it was time to learn how to make another cuppa, but this time using a kelly kettle. A larger fire was also started to make a BBQ lunch.
After a mighty feed, all that was left to do was to make out of Gandalf staffs using fallen branches. Normally such a process would take any number of weeks, so to first allow the stripping of the bark, then to let the exposed wood dry and harden. We of course didn’t have the luxury of weeks, only mere minutes before our 3 hour season came to a close, and so within the small window before our session slammed shut we also took to decorating our new staffs.
With Barney’s help, guidance, knowledge and general all round good guy-ness, 3 hours flew by and like a kid who doesn’t want leave his friends birthday party, I found myself wanting to ask an adult ‘do we really have to go?’.
We did, but only after what was a great morning of learning and doing. Down To Earth, while open to tourists, is mainly utilised by school groups and for other educational groups/societies. It is a calming place where learning, team work and respect for the planet are put at the forefront of your experience. Groups can spend weeks here, undertaking projects such as house building and farming. It looks to be a setup which rewards those who commit to its ways and principles, and judging by the photos and testimonies in the main ‘club house’, the many people who have passed through would encourage many more to do the same.
Interested? Check out their Facebook and Twitter accounts for more info.
In the sunshine Mumbles is a colourful seaside town offering strolls along the promenade, afternoons on the beach with buckets and spades, boat trips, water sports, and of course seagulls lurking in case of an opportunity to snatch your ice cream. Sneaky! However, on the rainy afternoon of our own visit, Mumbles was a haven from the cold and wet which had sadly set in over night. Mumbles offered us some much needed warmth and hot chocolate.
Even in the rain it is still easy to appreciate the charm of Mumbles. It really is very pretty, and there is an old school sea side town feel which struck a chord, bringing back fond memories of seaside holidays with the family when I was a wee lad.
The rain shouldn’t stop all play when visiting Mumbles, even in the wet it is possible to enjoy Oystermouth Castle, and failing that you could head to the shops try unearth some bargains.
As I’ve mentioned time and time again, shopping is not my bag, I would much prefer to visit one of the local breweries and sample a few of the local ales, alas I was the designated driver on this trip.
A Swansea Bay Adventure is not complete without a visit to quaint and colourful part of the world.
So. Full. It. Hurts.
… but there was always room for dessert(s) ;)
It was cold down in Swansea Bay, the weather was not overly kind to us as I have already alluded to us – serves us right for visiting in November I guess.
Warm drinks and hearty meals were never far from our minds, and in reality never far from our mouths either. The Swansea Bay foodie scene is alive a kicking, but rather than the food vans and street vendors I am used to buying £10 burgers from in London, here in Swansea Bay all of my chomping was undertaken from the comfort of a warm cosy pub or cafe.
I don’t even want to think of how much I ate in the 3 days I spent on our Swansea Bay Adventure, but for your sake (and to guilt myself into going out for a run later) I shall recap.
Let’s start with dinner at The King Arthur Hotel and my sticky beef shortribs to start, followed by an 8oz sirloin steak with thick peppercorn sauce, and washed down with a generous slice of Oreo Cheesecake (to share).
The next day there was the afore mentioned BBQ at Down To Earth to start the days calory count. That BBQ was followed by hot chocolate and ice cream (I know) at Verdi’s cafe in Mumbles, and dinner that evening was an incredible steak, salami and Welsh rarebit fusion ciabatta, with twice cooked chips at the 300 year old Welcome To Town pub, and followed by sticky toffee pudding for afters.
Come out final day and there were giant scones with thick clotted cream and raspberry jam for breakfast courtesy of our scampervan hosts. Lunch was then had 26 floors above Swansea’s city centre and Marina, in the Grape & Olive restaurant where the gammon steak was superb!
So yeah, just a few calories scoffed over the course of my Swansea Bay Adventure, but I regret nothing!
The base for our 2 night Swansea Bay Adventure was a small, cute campsite located in Pitton Cross. I’ve always quite liked camping, but boy am I glad we upgraded for our visit to Swansea Bay. The weather on our second night was atrocious, the wind and rain were battering this part of the world and quite frankly I think had we attempted to sleep in a tent that night, the tent would now be in pieces and we would more than likely have spent the night sleeping in the car instead.
Luckily our beds for the night were a little more secure and rigid. Our small and fun, but functional and in some ways luxury scampervan provided the shelter required for such an evenings weather.
Brightly coloured and containing all mod cons, our scampervan was plenty big enough for the girlfriend and I to enjoyed our time spent on the camp site. It wasn’t quite warm enough to sit out on the decking and stoke up the bbq, but from the warmth of the van we were able to brew up a new ending pot of key, and scoff down cakes while looking out over the neighbouring fields, and off in the distance the feisty bay waters. Luxury camping at its finest and a great base for exploring.
We sure packed a lot in to our Swansea Bay Adventure, but it was a great trip, and one which allowed us to bypass the hassle and faff of airport security. It was great to simply throw some bits in the back of the car and set off at our own leisure. Of course with that came 8+ hours worth of driving there and back, and a not so friendly petrol bill, but that freedom to travel whenever we wanted really was appreciated and made a nice change to 4am drive to Stansted airport followed by a knee crushing 2 hour flight among multiple stag do’s. I also love a good drive … so long as there isn’t hours of traffic to contend with.
I was invited to form My #SwanseaBayAdventure experience by the good folk at Visit Swansea Bay. While that lovely bunch covered the cost of my travel and time in Swansea Bay they did not request a favourable review and all of the opinions included in this article are my own. I can therefore safely, and fairly say that if you’re looking for a beautiful holiday destination closer to home, don’t mind the drive OR are actively looking to miss out on the ‘fun’ of the airport, the Swansea Bay might be right up your street. As I said, it’s beautiful, has loads to do for the whole family, and there are PLENTY of food options to keep those tummies full. Like us, I’m sure you’d have a really great trip.