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Sunny winter walking, a hostel by the sea, and the wonders of the Gower coast

Port Eynon hostel stands right on the sea front. It’s an old lifeboat station, and apparently when the tide is very high the water laps at the steps outside the door. We were able to sit in the lounge in front of the stove with the large windows giving us a view right over Port Eynon Bay, the sun coming up opposite.

Saturday morning dawned after a Friday of welcoming fish stew and the haphazard parking of people who have to find a hostel in the dark beyond the end of the road. Luckily we walked from the hostel, so no more driving was needed, and as the night’s rain died away and the squalls raced into the Bristol Channel, we headed out along the beach.

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Beyond Port Eynon Bay we joined the coastal path around Oxwich Point, a limestone peninsula with scarred wave-cut platforms that sticks out into the Severn Estuary. The gorse was in flower and the sun was warm on our heads, wandering along the grassy ledge near the shore and admiring the crystal blue waters.

Beyond the end of the point itself, we entered a woodland that came right down to the sea, and then passed the 11th century church of St Elltyd to reach Oxwich Bay. This famous beach is in summer a surfer’s paradise, but we nearly had it to ourselves, the grassy sand dunes making a perfect lunch-spot as we dozed in the warm midday (January!) sun.

After lunch we did a circuit of the Oxwich nature reserve, which is famous for the number of different habitats it harbours. In just over a mile you can go from the sea, through the beach and sand dunes, then through marsh and woodland, right up onto the moor. Buzzards circled overhead and we admired the peaceful woodland so close to the roaring surf.

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Over the hill and back to Port Eynon we paid the customary visit to the local pub before the fire was roaring away again and dinner was on the way. Later, once darkness had fallen, the stars were out in force, the milky way streaming overhead, and all well with the world.

Despite a terrible forecast for Sunday, a grey day dawned with only light spits of rain. We drove further west to Rhossili and took a walk to the end of the peninsula to admire the Worm’s Head, a great rocky set of islands reachable via a causeway when the tide is out. It was a bit too wet for us to try the crossing so we walked the coast instead, with views of the cliffs where prehistoric remains have been found in caves, and finding our way eventually round to the 3 mile-long wonder of Rhossili Bay.

This sheltered beach, flanked by dunes, a hill and also cliffs, hosts the remains of a shipwreck from the 19th century, and we were even able to watch some surfers out in the water before the heavy rain started in earnest and we retired to the bistro for lunch. Waving goodbye to the Gower, we all felt suitable lucky to have laid in the warm sunshine on a January weekend, and had the wonders of the Welsh coast all to ourselves.

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