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GOWER NEWS Gower’s Independent Online News, Event and Information Guide

Gower Cycling Festival: 10 - 17th September Picture: Gower Sunset © 2011 Ian Ambrose


Issue 6 September 2011

From the Editor Gower Cycling Festival: 10 - 17th September

The cycling event organisers state the

Today marks the start of a week-long

Britain's most beautiful countryside’ -

cycling event - to be officially

they are encouraging visitors to take

launched by Gower MP, Martin

part as 'relaxing way' to see the sights

Caton at 10.30pm at Blackpill Lido.

of Gower.

At 11.00am, following the official

With 18 different cycling festival

launch, riders will embark on a 4-mile

event routes to choose from, the

easy ride along the Swansea Bay

organisers are keen for experienced

cyclepath, led by one of the event

cyclists looking for a new area to

organisers, Nick Guy.

explore, and local residents alike, to

Gower Cycling Festival is an ‘opportunity to explore some of

expand their cycling horizons and “The main reason for the week-long

join in the festival fun!

event is to encourage more people to cycle, including both local residents and tourists. “Wheelrights believes that the pace of cycling offers new perspectives on exploring the beautiful countryside of Gower and surrounding areas,” said Mr Guy.

Picture: © Nick Guy

Festival Passes can be purchased in

South Wales Bike Ride 2011

advance, or at the start of a ride, at a cost of £5 - the pass entitles a rider to

This year’s Gower Cycling Festival is

take part in as many rides as they

followed by the previously postponed

wish. People looking to take part in a

British Heart Foundation South Wales

single ride can do so at the cost of £3

Bike Ride, which was cancelled earlier

which is payable at the start of the

in the year due to the tyre factory fire

ride. Children under 14, who must be

in Fforestfach.

accompanied by an adult, can take part in ride events for free.

Tak in g plac e on Sun day 18 th September, registration for this event is at 8.00am on the recreation grounds next to St. Helens stadium, Swansea. There are 3 routes to chose from: 50, 29 or 16 mile. All rides start and finish at the recreation ground. To find out more, visit the British

For further information about

Heart Foundation website at:

t h i s ye a r ’s G o we r C yc l i n g Festival: telephone 01792 371206, or

visit the Festival website at:


If you've ever walked the cliffs and

This Week’s Contributors

burrows at Pennard, you will no doubt

Ian Ambrose

be slightly mystified by the ruins of

Chris Ridgway

Pennard Castle, and perhaps more so

Dan Santillo

by the half-buried ruins of St. Mary’s

Nick Cahm

Church on Pennard golf course.

Carrie Thomas

There are several theories as to why both were apparently abandoned some time ago. The reality, however,

Unless stated otherwise, all images by Ian Ambrose/Gower News

would seem to have something to do

Cover ‘Gower Sunset’ © 2011

with climate and weather - but more

Ian Ambrose

about that from Chris in his latest weather article - see page 46. You can read more about the ‘Mysterious Remains of Pennard Castle and St.

The remains of Pennard castle

Mary’s Church’ on pages 40-47.

If you would like to get involved by writing an article, or to share your Gower news or event information, simply send an email to the Editor:

GOWER NEWS 10th September 2011

This Week’s Contributors

Editor / Design / Illustration Ian Ambrose Publisher Gower News | Gower News is an independent and privately owned online publication. Distribution This e-publication is freely distributed through Gower News’ e-newsletter and online media network: Views and opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Gower News' Editor. Gower News does not accept responsibility for the products, goods or services featured or advertised throughout this epublication. Gower News does not personally endorse any business, organisation, product or service featured in this publication. Every effort is made to ensure the information contained within this publication is accurate and up to date. The contents of this publication are subject copyright and must not be reproduced in any way without the express prior permission of the publisher.


Contents 8 Visitor Q&A 12 A Tale of Two Lighthouses 22 Events 26 Produce Markets 38 Mumbles Tide Predictions 40 Pennard Castle 46 Weekend Weather 48 The Sands of Time 56 Have Your Say 68 Biographies


With the main summer holiday season over, we quizzed a recent visitor to Gower, Nick Cahm, about his visit. Nick travelled from Sutton Colefield with his wife and two children aged 6 and 4. Nick, a Production Manager for a newspaper printing company, decided to visit Gower after hearing from friends that it was ‘lovely’ - “it was closer than Cornwall so thought it worth coming,” he said. The journey from the Midlands took the Cahm family 3 hours and 30 minutes. We asked Nick: Where did you stay during your visit to Gower? We camped at Pitton Cross Camping & Caravan Site - proper camping: no electric! The site was lovely, well-priced and would be somewhere that we would consider coming to again - which is very unusual for travellers who rarely revisit places.



Very peaceful, beautiful

scenery and

much better than Cornwall!

Did you find the location of where you stayed ok? Yes, it was easy to find as it was signposted from Scurlage. How would you describe the road signage around Gower? Road signage was generally good around Gower, but some of the roads were surprisingly challenging - the one from Penrice to Oxwich was interesting!

What was your first impression of the area you visited? Beautiful and above all, not crowded. Even though it was the Bank Holiday weekend and the campsite was full, it never felt crowded.  The roads were mostly clear and the beaches had plenty of space.

What was your most memorable activity? Rockpooling on Mewslade beach.  The five mile walk around Oxwich Point - using the Gower Walks guidebook, Did you eat out? What was your favourite/least favourite food place? We ate out three times - all were good.   We had excellent fish and chips from The Sea Fairer in Port Eynon (think they should have said "food cooked to order" as the stuff on display looked a bit tired and sad and we nearly walked out without buying, but glad we didn't!); a simple, well-priced meal from the Gower Inn (ideal for the kids!); and a good meal, with a superb view from the dining room of the Worm's Head Hotel - all tables had a reserved sign on them, apart from the one we found! We also ate far too many Welsh Cakes!

which Gower beaches did you visit - what did you think of them? We went to Oxwich Bay, Mewslade Beach (twice) and Langland Bay. Oxwich Bay was OK, but the walk to the sea was very long. It was handy that there were local shops, but the parking was a bit pricey (£4) with no option for short stay. Langland Bay was pleasant, with good clean sand and lifeguards available.  There was still beach at high tide, which was a bonus. Mewslade Beach - easily our favourite.  The parking was cheap (£2 in honesty box).  It was a bit of a trek to get down to the beach but even our youngest didn't struggle.   The last bit was a scramble down some rocks which make it interesting with all the beach paraphernalia!  However, it was worth the effort.  This was one of the most complete beaches I have been on - the scenery was stunning, plenty of 'river-damming' opportunities for the children and fascinating rock-pools with copious number of starfish and other animals to keep everyone endlessly amused.  The sea was also safe to swim in (despite no lifeguard).  The only thing to be careful of is that the beach is totally covered at high tide and for a reasonable time either side.  However, could have had a stroll down the coast path if that was the case.

“We Found people helpful and friendly, especially at the campsite who, when one of our tent poles snapped whilst putting the tent up, directed us to Mike Davies Leisure who were very helpful and

managed to get us back with canvas over our heads!

A Tale of Two Lighthouses Š words and photographs by Dan Santillo

Two very different lighthouses at opposite ends of the Gower Peninsula, yet with a similar history. Whether you prefer to stay within easy reach of the car or like to walk into the wilds, make sure you take time to visit at least one of these lighthouses.

Lighthouses of the Gower Peninsula Surrounded by the sea on three sides, the Gower Peninsula only has two lighthouses, but they couldn’t be more different. The Mumbles Lighthouse is modern, made from stone and still in use today, whilst the Whiteford Point Lighthouse at the opposite end of the Gower is made from wrought iron and no longer in use.

The Mumbles Lighthouse is situated at the south end of Swansea Bay on the outer island, Mumbles Head.

Between Mumbles Head and the mainland lies Middle Head, both of which are accessible by foot at low tide. Located in the Bristol Channel, which boasts the world’s second highest tidal range (the highest being the Bay of Fundy in Canada), Swansea has a tidal range of about 33 feet or 10 metres. This large range has often caught people out and left them stranded just yards away from the mainland.

The Mumbles lighthouse has spent over 200 years guiding shipping around the lethal Mixon Shoal (sometimes called Mixon Sands), a large undersea sand bank about half a mile to the south.

The present day lighthouse was built in 1794 from the plans of William Jernegan, a local architect, after the original lighthouse collapsed in 1792 before it was completed. It was originally lit by two coal fires, which were placed one above the other to distinguish from nearby lighthouses. These were expensive and difficult to maintain, however, so were soon replaced in 1799 with a single oil powered light. The lighthouse structure remained unchanged until 1859, when the War Office built the fort or blockhouse around it to defend Swansea and its docks. The defences were used again and added to in the First and Second World War before being decommissioned in 1957. The next upgrade to the lighthouse itself came in 1905, when the light was made to flash at regular intervals.

In 1934, when the lighthouse keeper retired, the light was fully automated and has been unmanned ever since. Trinity House (the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar) took ownership in 1975, converting it to solar power, replacing the light and adding a fog detector in 1995. The current light, at an intensity of just over 17,000 candela, can be seen for sixteen nautical miles, whilst the fog horn can be heard within a range of two nautical miles. Despite the lighthouse being there to protect shipping, Mumbles Head has seen its fair share of disasters. The lifeboat service for Swansea Bay was started in 1835, following the grounding of the ‘Margaret’ Maltese barque and the ‘Mary Ann’ schooner on the Mixon Shoal within days of each other. Fortunately, there was no loss of life in either of these incidents. That wasn’t always the case, however, when in January 1883 the ‘Wolverhampton’ lifeboat was launched to rescue the ‘Admiral Prinz Adalbert’ German barque which had become stranded off the Mumbles Head rocks. During the rescue, disaster struck when the heaving seas capsized and righted the lifeboat several times, causing four crew members to lose their lives, whilst the rest were injured, some seriously. Two of the crew were rescued by the lighthouse keeper’s two daughters, Margaret and Jessie Ace, aided by Gunner Hutchings who was stationed at the fort by the lighthouse. They waded into the sea at great risk to themselves and the two daughters have been immortalised in a poem entitled “The Women of Mumbles Head” by Clement Scott. Gravestones, a memorial window and a plaque to commemorate those who lost their life can be found at the local parish church.

Whiteford Despite being very different from the Mumbles Lighthouse in appearance, Whiteford Point lighthouse has had a congruous past. Both have been built twice, both have seen disasters with loss of life and both have seen action in the World Wars.

Pictures by Ian Ambrose

The original structure, built in 1854 just north of the present day lighthouse, was damaged when debris was caught in the supports and a ship later collided with it. The lamp was lit in the newly built lighthouse in 1866, designed by local engineer John Bowen. In 1919, upgrading the light to a more powerful gas-lamp was considered, but instead the decision was taken to decommission it and build a new lighthouse at Burry Port, which would better serve the estuary. In 1921, the light was extinguished for the last time and the structure left to the sea. During World War II, the army used the area for bombing practice. The lighthouse became a scheduled ancient monument in 1981. In 2000, it was put up for sale for the sum of ÂŁ1, but under the proviso that the new owner spend a potential ÂŁ100,000 to repair it. Whiteford Lighthouse was built when Llanelli was a major shipping port, but nowadays is only used by smaller boats.

Like the Mumbles Lighthouse, Whiteford Point has seen fatal disasters. In 1868, a sudden swell grounded sixteen ships and broke them apart on the sand banks, leaving Whiteford Sands littered with wrecked ships, cargo and dead bodies. The victims were later buried in nearby graveyards.

Whilst you can drive to Mumbles Head and look at the lighthouse from the comfort of the car, Whiteford Point lighthouse isn’t so easy to see. Parking at Cwm Ivy car park, you need to walk three miles out to the lighthouse and then another three miles to get back again. The lighthouse is the only wrought iron lighthouse in the United Kingdom washed by salt water and is accessible only at low tide. Care should be taken, as the Cwm Ivy Woods: Picture by Ian Ambrose estuary is notorious for quicksand and the occasional unexploded bomb. The easiest and safest way to get there is to walk along the beach to the point where the sand dunes turn away at a right angle and you can see remains of what is an old causeway; then walk over the rocks to the lighthouse. The walk itself feels long, as the lighthouse doesn’t appear to become any closer. Very few people take the time to walk the distance and chances are you’ll only see a handful of people on the beach. If you look around, you can still see the remains of the wrecked ships still lying in the sand and on the rocks.

Events Around Gower Date





Swansea Open House

01792 655264


9th - 11th 11.00am - Gower Bluegrass Festival September 11.00pm

01792 371206


9th - 11th Various September

Mumbles Gower OceanFest

07970 577879


10th 2.00pm September

Pennard Garden Society Annual Show at Pennard Community Centre

10th - 17th Various September

Gower Cycling Festival

3rd - 17th Various September

11th 10.00am - Oak Leaf Challenge with The Septmeber 3.30pm National Trust at Rhossili Bay. 10th 9.00am September -1.00pm

Mumbles Produce and Craft Market


01792 233755


01792 390636

Link Link

10th 10.00am - The Funky Craft Fayre, September 4.00pm Mumbles


10th 9.30am September 1.30pm

Gorseinon Canolfan Food and Craft Fayre


11th 9.30am September 12.30pm

Pennard Produce and Craft Market


14th 9.30am September 12.30pm

Pontarddulais Produce and Craft Market


Event details believed to be correct at time of publication. Event charges may apply. Check event contact for further details and booking information.

22 Gower Chilli Festival Port Eynon, Gower 24th September 2011 Visit for more information.

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Swansea Police Heddlu Abertawe


DIWRNOD AGORED A fun day out for all the family Diwrnod llawn hwyl I’r holl deulu Sunday 18 September 2011 Dydd Sul 18 Medi 2011 11am - 4pm Cockett Police Station Gorsaf Heddlu Cockett FREE entry/parking Mynediad/parcio am DDIM

In an emergency, always dial 999. This means you require urgent police assistance where there is a real and immediate threat to life or property. If you would like to report a non-urgent incident however, or have a problem or general query, you can call 101, the 24 hour non-emergency number for the police. Use 101 when the incident is less urgent than 999.

Pontarddulais Produce and Craft Market Second Wednesday of every month between 9.30am - 12.30pm The Institute, 45 St. Teilo Street, Pontarddulais Mumbles Produce and Craft Market Second Saturday of every month between 9.00am - 1.00pm The Dairy Car Park, Oystermouth Square, Mumbles Gorseinon Canolfan Food and Craft Fayre Second Saturday of every month between 9.30am - 1.00pm Canolfan Centre, Millers Drive, Gorseinon Pennard Produce and Craft Market Second Sunday of every month between 9.30am - 12.30pm Pennard Community Centre, Pennard Penclawdd Produce and Craft Market Third Saturday of every month between 9.30am - 12.30pm Community Centre, Banc Bach, Penclawdd Clydach Produce and Craft Market Last Saturday of each month between 10.00am - 1.30pm Moose Hall, Beryl Road, Clydach Llangennith Produce and Craft Market 24th September 9.30am - 1.00pm Llangennith Hall, Llangennith

Local Produce

‘Local Produce “Market” of the Week’ ~~~ Whatever the weather, you can have a lovely time at the Gorseinon Food and Craft Fayre - Epilepsy Action Cymru is this month’s charity. Fayre organiser, Shirley Price said, “Come along between 9.30am and 1.00pm for kids crafts, car boot sale, local produce, unique craft and much more.” ~~~ Gorseinon Canolfan Food and Craft Fayre Second Saturday of every month between 9.30am - 1.00pm Canolfan Centre, Millers Drive, Gorseinon

& Craft Markets

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Enjoy the great outdoors while helping the National Trust to keep Gower special!

Held once a month, the National Trust Gower ‘Saturday Volunteering Group’ undertakes a range of tasks such as litterpicks, scrub clearance, vegetation management and fencing. The Saturday Volunteering Group is family friendly - children must be accompanied by an adult!

If you would like to help or want further information, please contact Claire Hannington on (01792) 390636 or email 1st October - Whiteford: Pine Pulling/Fencing 5th November - Mewslade: Gorse Clearance 3rd December - Bovehill: Scrub Clearance

This year the Mumbles Gower OceanFest will host the Welsh Longboard Classic, Bay 6K Paddle Enduro and the Gower SUP Surf Classic. With stand up paddle boarding and surf clinics, expert advice and free board demos, there'll be plenty of opportunities for newcomers to the sports and also anyone wishing to progress. The event sees the long-awaited return of the Welsh Longboard Classic, a prestigious surfing tournament which was considered one of the premier longboarding events in the country. The Longboard Classic ran for two decades and over the years attracted some distinguished names in the international field of surf stars and world champions, including Californian greats Jay Moriarty and Robert 'Wingnut' Weaver, star of the cult surf classic Endless Summer.  Whether competing in the tournaments or just chilling at the beach and soaking up the atmosphere, the event promises to deliver a spectacular experience for everyone.

contact the event organiser Jay Doyle on 07970 577879

10-17 SEPTEMBER 2011 The Gower Cycling Festival is an opportunity to explore some of Britain's most beautiful countryside. If you're a visitor seeking a relaxing way to see the sights, an experienced cyclist looking for a new area to explore, or a local resident expanding your cycling horizons, there is something to suit you.



ES tel: 01792 371206







r 6 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay

r 12 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay


Follows the beautiful coastal cyclepath through the Millennium Coastal Park hugging the Loughor estuary. Beautiful views to north Gower across the sea. We shall cycle through Pembrey Park with lunch at ‘Time for Tea’, Kidwelly.

Leader: John White | Challenging | 48 miles | All day


r 7 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay

IMAGE: Sustrans library


SATURDAY 10th SEPTEMBER Official Festival Launch by Martin Caton MP and Reena Owen 10.30 Blackpill Lido

r 1 11.00 Blackpill Lido (next to Junction Café) FAMILY FUN RIDE TO MUMBLES

An easy ride on cyclepath around Swansea Bay. With beaches café’s and Lido there is fun for all.

A grand circuit with views of the famous beautiful Worm’s Head. We’ll ride close to vast and spectacular west Gower beaches, with a lunch stop at Hill End, Llangennith.

Leader: David Naylor | Moderate | 32 miles | All Day

r 8 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay SWISS VALLEY

Away to the north on quiet roads we’ll climb high and drop into the Gwendraeth Valley which has a rich industrial heritage. Lunch at Caffi Cynnes in Pontyberem. Then it’s nearly all downhill back via the Sustrans Swiss Valley (route 47).

Leader: Martin Brain | Challenging | 42 miles | All day

Leader: Nick Guy | Gentle | 4 miles | 2 hours

r 2 11.00 Blackpill Lido (next to Junction Café) A GOWER TASTER

A mountain bike and part road ride via Clyne Common, across Bishopston Valley and Pennard Common, over Cefn Bryn with fantastic sea views to lunch at the Heritage Centre before returning to Blackpill.

Leader: Rob Wachowski | Challenging | 30 miles | All day


r 4 10.00 Gower Heritage Centre OFF ROAD OVER CEFN BRYN

If you have a mountain bike that’s never been off tarmac before, come and get some dirt on your tyres by climbing Cefn Bryn for spectacular views. No special mountain-biking skills required. End with BBQ at Gower Heritage Centre.

Leader: Claudine Conway | Gentle | 12 miles | Half day

r 5 10.00 Gower Heritage Centre CEFN BRYN PLUS

A ride over Cefn Bryn into west Gower. A character-building hill or two will reveal great views and a visit to King Arthur’s stone. The ride will take us through the heart of Gower’s ancient history. Rewarded by a BBQ at Gower Heritage Centre.

Leader: Phil Jones | Moderate | 15 miles | Half day

Leader: Nick Guy | Gentle | 15 miles | All day

r 13 10.00 Gower Heritage Centre A GOWER TRAVERSE

A route of contrasts exploring the differences between north and south Gower. We’ll visit the old yew tree at Penrice Church and seek the tomb of murdered Mary. Lunch at the Greyhound Inn, Oldwalls.

Sponsored by: Gower Farm Campsite, Reynoldston Leader: Don Ashman | Moderate | 22 miles | All day


14 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay r (10.45 Gower Heritage Centre for walk only)


Cycle to the Gower Heritage Centre via mid Gower road and Green Cwm. We’ll leave our bikes there to walk down Three Cliffs valley to the beautiful beach. Lunch at Three Cliffs café, Southgate before walking along a higher route. Then cycling back to the Railway inn via Ilston Church.

r 15a 9.00 Railway Inn, Killay


Leader: David Naylor | Moderate | 25 miles | All day

r 3 11.00 Blackpill Lido (next to Junction Café)

A gentle ride along the flat Sustrans NCN route 4, almost all on cycle paths. Time to explore the Wildfowl and Wetland centre at Penclacwydd (entry charge and café). Just before we finish visit the Ddol Farm vinyard for tea and cake. Inexperienced cyclists welcome.

Leader: David Naylor | Moderate | 12/4 miles ride/walk | All day

A circular route on cycle paths and quiet North Gower roads. Stunning views over the salt marshes. Lunch at the Greyhound pub, returning via the picturesque Green Cwm.






10.00 Railway Inn, Killay

Make the most of Swansea’s terrain. Approach our hilly city with determination and be rewarded with spectacular views and a new perspective on Swansea. On urban roads but low gears or strong legs needed. Lunch at Railway Inn.

Leader: Claudine Conway | Challenging | 20 miles | Half day

10 r 2pm Bikeability Centre, Dunvant Rugby Club


A gentle ride down the Clyne cycle path to Blackpill, featuring a variety of specially adapted bicycles. A refreshment stop at the Junction Café with Lido, beach and play area.

Leader: Bikeability | Gentle | 4 miles | Half day


r 11


10.00 Railway Inn, Killay

A longer ride up the Swansea Valley to the impressive Henrhyd Waterfalls. Back down a different valley and finishing around Swansea Bay. Bring sandwiches.

Leader: John Cardy | Challenging | 62 miles | All day

A long ride with some testing climbs, taking in one of the most breathtaking castles in Wales! Lunch at the Ferryside Café on the Towy estuary. Mostly on minor roads, a tough hilly route.

Leader: Claudine Conway | Challenging | 70 miles | All day

r 15b 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay


Up the Loughor valley with stunning views to the west and then up to the castle for lunch. Back the other side of the valley.

Leader: Phil Jones | Challenging | 48 miles | All day


16 r 11.00 Civic Centre (East car park)


A gentle flat ride along the Swansea Bay cycle path towards Mumbles and back, with a lunch stop at the Junction café, Blackpill. Adults can join us, if accompanied by a teenager.

Leaders: Rachel Guy & Claudine Conway | Gentle | 6 miles | Half day

r 17 10.00 Railway Inn, Killay NORTH GOWER CIRCUIT

This classic route is hilly on the way out but flat on the return home! The beautiful high Cilonnen Road offers views to the west from Welsh Moor (NT) and across the estuary to the north. We descend to the Salt Marsh road then pass through the village of Crofty, hub of the cockle industry.

Leader: Bob Smith | Gentle | 17 miles | Half day

r 18 10.00 Gower Heritage Centre


A challenging mountain bike circuit over the highest points of Gower, with spectacular views over Rhossili beach. Discover Gower’s natural charms including swooping single track roads, bridleways and rocky terrain. Please ride suitably equipped and wear a helmet. Lunch at Hill End.

Leader: Roy Church | Challenging | 30 miles | All day

FESTIVAL PARTY SAT 17th SEPTEMBER 7pm Gower Heritage Centre £5 (Children Free) A chance to reward ourselves for all the riding! Live music, Great venue, and unusual auction Licensed bar and food available. Hosted by:

Start points and facilities All start/finish points have car parks nearby - charges may apply. Blackpill Lido SA3 5AS. Public toilets, café. On cycle path NCN 4. Gower Heritage Centre SA3 2EH. Toilets, shop, cafés. Railway Inn, Killay SA2 7DS. On NCN 4 – no public toilets. Dunvant Rugby Club SA2 7RU. Free parking and toilets. Civic Centre East Car Park SA1 3SN. Toilets, café.

Marine Conservation Society ‘Beachwatch Big Weekend’ 17th and 18th September 2011

According to the Marine Conservation Society: Wales hit an all time high in average litter levels at 3,372 items for every kilometre surveyed. In 2010, 755 volunteers across Wales collected 62,694 items of litter!

Beach litter has almost doubled over the last fifteen years, and in 2010 alone, average litter levels across the UK jumped an alarming six percent compared to the year before. The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) wants to break this rising trend, and the charity says they cannot do it without public support.

Photo: Š 2011: T Fanshawe

People of Gower and Swansea can help by taking part in this year’s MCS Beachwatch Big Weekend which will be taking place on the 17th and 18th of September - the event will see thousands of volunteers taking to the beaches all and around the UK coast. They will clean up and record the rubbish they find, as part of the International Coastal Cleanup which takes place in 80 countries worldwide.

Some of our best loved marine wildlife is under threat from hazardous litter in our seas. Hundreds of species of marine wildlife accidentally eat, or become tangled up in litter - and it’s also hazardous to people. The data collected during beach clean up and survey events shapes MCS’s beach litter campaigns and keeps the subject matter firmly on the Government’s agenda. MCS Beachwatch Officer Lauren Davis says it’s crucial we do something to tackle rising litter levels: “We’d like to see much more involvement around the UK coastline. Right now, we’re especially on the look out for people who can help us organise a beach clean in the area, and anyone can simply volunteer to take part.” Lauren says a beach clean is a great way to gather vital data: “It’s great to have the help of so many enthusiastic locals of all ages who are clearly passionate about getting involved and improving their local marine environment. It’s amazing what you can find, on the last survey in July we came across part of a bed post, far bigger and heavier than the young volunteer who was determined to drag it quite some distance off the beach!” // How to Get Involved \\ Beachwatch Big Weekend 2011 – be part of the biggest and most influential fight against marine litter in the UK. Events are set to take place on beaches around Gower. So far, ‘Beachwatch Big Weekend’ events are planned for Rhossili, Langland and Three Cliffs Bay. Find out more at or telephone 01989 566017

Marine Conservation Society Beachwatch Big Weekend

In July we came across part of a bed post, far bigger and heavier t h a n t h e yo u n g volunteer who was determined to drag it quite some distance off the beach!

Photo: © 2011: Matt Oldfield

Get Involved! 17th and 18th September 2011

September 2011 | Mumbles

Mumbles Tide Date




Predicted Times Shown in British Summer Time.

Saturday 10






Sunday 11






Monday 12






Tuesday 13






Wednesday 14






Thursday 15






Friday 16











Tide Predictions: © Crown Copyright and/or database rights. Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the UK Hydrographic Office (

The Mysterious Remains of Pennard Castle and St. Mary’s Church


Mystery and Folklore Pennard Castle is precariously situated on the edge of a steep sandy embankment overlooking Pennard Pill and Three Cliffs Bay. The castle, now steeped in mystery and folklore, is believed to have been built sometime in the 12th century by the Norman, Henry de Newburgh, who also built castles at Swansea and Loughor.


The word ‘pill’ means stream - it is part of the old Gower dialect which is believed to have distinctively developed during a time of Norman and Anglican influence in the area after the 1066 Conquest.

Pennard Castle, of typical Norman design for the time, is believed to have been abandoned a relatively short time later in the 14th century. Interestingly, some historians doubt the castle was ever actually completed, and due to its size, was more likely used as a fortified post than a castle.

Abandoned Church A neighbouring ruined church, formerly St. Mary’s of Pennard, is also believed to have been abandoned along with a medieval settlement around the same time as the castle. The partial remains protruding from the sand, are all that remain of St. Mary’s Church, Pennard's original church, which is buried beneath what is now Pennard golf course.

Instantaneous Dark Clouds The




The old church site was surveyed in

abandonment of the castle, church

1899. During past excavations, glass







fragments and an incense burner



have been recovered. What remains

insurgency raids on Gower by the

of the church and castle now are free

likes of Rees ap Meredith; Black

to explore with care.


Death of the 14th century; a gradual process of encroaching sand; and even





instantaneous dark clouds driving in off the channel which filled the air with thick choking sand, apparently resulting in the complete devastation of the old Pennard village.

The plaque fixed to the medieval remains of St. Mary’s Church, indicates that the abandoned church, now half buried on Pennard gold course, was still in use in the 16th century.

Clapper Bridge The stepping stones (large stone bridge foundations) at the top of Three Clis Bay are thought to be the only remains of a 'clapper' style bridge, which was constructed over Pennard Pill, presumably by the Normans as a way of communicating with the rest of the parish. Stepping Stones: Three Cliffs Bay remains of on old clapper bridge?

A 'clapper bridge' consists of large at slabs of granite or schist which are supported on stone piers in the case where they are used to cross rivers and the like.

Water Tower The water tower on Pennard golf course was constructed out of reinforced concrete during 1923 following a drought in 1921-22 which devastated a number of the golf club’s greens and fairways. Decommissioned in 1986, the water tower was fed by a pumphouse located near the Pill, which provided water for a green watering system to help prevent future drought damage to the golf course. As a result of local opinion, the water tower now remains purely as a landmark.

Sincere thanks to Bill Harding for allowing information from his book A History of Pennard Parish -’ to be used in this article.

weekend weather

Community Gower Weather What a tumultuous few weeks of weather! If you didn’t suppose Autumn wasn’t already with us, it certainly hit us with a bang this week! The weather has been dominated by a series a deep Low pressure systems off the Atlantic Ocean, bringing us strong winds and rain - weather normally reserved for October and November. This “conveyer belt of rain” is due to a high NAO index positioning the Jet Stream over the UK. Over the past 3 or 4 years, Septembers have treated us to a so called “Indian summer” - warm settled weather after a “wash-out” summer. So far, that hasn’t happened and, unfortunately, it’s not likely to occur this weekend.


Community Weekend Outlook Weather Outlook for the Weekend 09/09/2011 to 12/09/2011 Friday: a deep area of Low pressure is situated in the Atlantic off the SW coast of Ireland. This will bring rain in the early hours of Friday morning as a warm front passes over. The wind is from a mild Southerly direction and will feel humid. The day will remain cloudy with occasional shower, temperatures around 18°C. Later on in the day the cloud will thicken again as a cold front moves over us into Saturday, bringing more rain. Saturday will see strengthening winds as the area of low pressure moves up the West coast of Ireland - wind speeds up to 30mph gusting 45mph from the South to SW. Saturday will be a variable day of rain, heavy showers, occasional sunny spells, but noticeable high winds again. Temperatures are around 17°C. Sunday the strong winds will continue from a mild SW direction, wind speeds up to 22mph, gusts around 36mph. The unsettled theme continues of rain, showers, and occasional sunny spells. Temperatures are around 17°C. Sunday night will see the remnants of Hurricane Katia (when it reaches us it will an Atlantic Depression), moving across the UK. Monday The remnants of Katia pass over us in the early hours of Monday morning bringing rain and strong winds, gusting around 40mph meaning a wet start to the working week, however as the day moves on, the rain should clear although remaining windy cloudy, showers, with some sunny spells. The unsettled, stormy, autumnal feel continues this weekend and doesn’t look great for getting out and about on Gower or any other outdoor activities this weekend. Either way, what ever you are doing this weekend, have a good one! Chris. Specific detailed daily forecasts can be obtained from professional organisations like the Met Office:


Sands of Time: How the Little Ice Age Changed Medieval Gower By Chris Ridgway The landscape of Gower is ever changing. Although the dynamics of these changes are often subtle and beyond our perception, the landscape of Gower hasn’t always been as we see it today, and has changed even within historic times. In my last article I wrote about the unceasing changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation and how it aects our weather. The changes in weather patterns over the centuries have ultimately led to changes and the formation of new landscapes on Gower. Since the end of the last Ice Age (10,000 years BP), the Earth has naturally Warmed and Cooled through a slow rhythm of natural cycles. The warming and cooling of the Earth is thought by many scientists to be driven by solar activity on the Sun, in combination with ocean temperatures/circulation and volcanic activity.


Norman Gower Castles Our story begins around 950AD - the start of what is known as the Medieval Warm Period which last until around 1250AD. This was a time of great expansion in the history of Europe. Temperatures were on average 1°C warmer than today’s temperatures (note warmer with less CO2 in atmosphere) and the warm conditions caused sea levels to rise. It was a period of history that saw the Vikings colonising what is now inhospitable areas of Greenland, the Normans invaded England and it also saw the building of the many great Cathedrals of Europe. Within this period, South Wales was invaded under the Norman King, Henry Ì and his Baron’s in the early 12th Century. In order to consolidate his gains, his Baron’s built numerous castles in their push further west into Wales. Gower and the surrounding area are littered with numerous castles dating from this period: Lougher in the north and Swansea, Oystermouth and Pennard in the south.

➤ 49

Little Ice Age The landscape of Gower at the time would have been different: the valley below where Pennard Castle now stands - where the Pill flows into Three Cliffs Bay - would have been a deeper tidal inlet. Accessible by boat, the castle was probably strategically placed so supplies could be shipped in by sea (you have to remember the sea levels were slightly higher than they are today). A settlement and church grew up on what was then the cliff-top overlooking the sea. By the mid 13th century a series of events conspired to end this Warm Period and ushered in a Cooling of the Earth’s climate - this was the start of a period called the Little Ice Age. The year 1258 experienced one of greatest volcanic eruptions of the whole of the last 10,000 years. A volcanic eruption in Central / South America region brought “severe winters” to Europe, starting around 1280 - a period of 80 years of low solar activity called the Wolf Minimum (1280-1350) occurred. The resultant cooling of the Earth meant rapid swings in the North Atlantic Oscillation bringing extremities in weather conditions during the late 13th into the 14th century.


Besanding Coastline The year 1315 started a period of successive “wash-out summers” and a series intense gale that battered the coastline of Britain. These storm force winds piled up huge sand dunes, famously over the flourishing port of Kenfig - just to the east of Port Talbot steel works - forming the Kenfig Burrows, which can be seen from the M4. This besanding of the coastline occurred simultaneously around Gower. These storm force winds of the piled sands upon the medieval settlement surrounding Pennard Castle formed the dune system we see today, and now the location of Pennard ‘links’ golf course. With the village and farmland inundated with sand, and a falling sea level, potentially shipping in supplies would have become difficult; it is easy to imagine why the castle would have been abandoned by the end of the century. So there may have been some truth in the elaborate tale of “...instantaneous dark clouds driving in off the channel which filled the air with thick chocking sand, resulting in the complete devastation of the old Pennard Village...”

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Medieval Warm Period The landscapes of other parts of Gower were also changed during the start of the “Little Ice Age”. Prior to the storm force winds of the 14th century, the area between Llangennith and Burry Holmes would have been a long narrow promontory headland, with Broughton Bay to the north and a tidal inlet to the south. The storms subsequently formed the Broughton, Llangennith and Hillend Burrows, besanding the old Medieval village of Burry Holmes and the monastic settlement of Lower Rhossili, creating the dune system we see today. Llangennith itself may have been accessible by boat via a tidal inlet during the Medieval Warm Period. The area, which is now Coety Green and Llangennith Moors, forms a wide flat-bottomed valley between Llanmadoc Hill and Rhossili Down. The formation of the dunes cut off the inlet around Diles Lake, (combined with a drop in sea level) backing up the stream, creating the marshy ground we now see. Any historic tidal channel has long since silted up and the area reclaimed as farm land. Elsewhere on Gower, the sand inundated the topographic hollows of Oxwich Bay and Port Eynon. The dune formation at Oxwich created the Oxwich Marsh, now a SSSI, where the Nicholaston Pill was essentially dammed, creating a high water table and the formation of a fen environment.


Warming and Cooling It’s clear that past climate changes have significant aect on history, society and the changing the landscape. Changes in climate do happen - not just warming, but also cooling and the rise and fall of sea levels. Temperatures have been greater than today without human interference, the Earth has warmed and cooled over eons, through slow naturally induced cycles. Hopefully if this article has demonstrated anything, it’s that changes in climate are not unprecedented - even in historic times, changes in climate and landscapes have visibly occurred and happened to our ancestors. They adapted, survived the changes, and developed - a trait of human beings since we first started walking the planet!


Ask SUE!

Ruth Madoc with Susan Rainey from Gower Ancestry

Are your ancestors from Gower? Who do you think they were? Send us your questions and we will ask sue to answer as many as possible by publishing them in future editions of gower e-news!


Last year Susan Rainey from Gower Ancestry conducted research for BBC Wales’ Coming Home series featuring the famous Welsh actress, Ruth Madoc. Susan said: “Ruth's ancestors came from Swansea, Llansamlet, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. Unfortunately none from Gower. “I was with Ruth all day at the filming of the programme in Swansea I even arranged for her to meet long-lost relatives from Llangennech.” One of the highlights of Susan’s research was the discovery that Ruth Madoc was related to former British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.


Shout Out!

Save Clyne Valley

Join the “Save Clyne Valley” Campaign

According to local campaigners, Clyne Valley is under threat from development. Campaigners say that through submissions as LDP candidate sites, Swansea City Council want to turn tow parts of it into residential developments.


Carrie Thomas writes about the Local Development Plan (LDP) and its relevance to Clyne Valley. Have your say about proposed residential development in Clyne Valley Country Park, as well as other LDP candidate sites. What is the LDP? The way Swansea plans for the future is changing. A new Local Development Plan (LDP) will be created, superseding the Unitary Development Plan. Have you noticed green maps appearing on your local lamp-posts? They are likely to be ‘candidate site’ notices, outlining proposed changes of use. Most worrying may be those that propose change to ‘residential development’ on sites that are currently greenfield (never been built on); and ‘green wedge’ (a designation that helps protect our countryside against building encroachment, under the UDP). One troubling concern is that the LDP process is able to re-define the edges of green wedge, thus allowing building in previously well defended areas. Luckily, the LDP procedure encourages ‘an emphasis on improved community involvement’. As the Swansea LDP page states: ‘Is the LDP relevant to me? Everyone who lives, works, visits or provides services within Swansea will be influenced by the LDP and should therefore get involved throughout its preparation. That means the Council needs YOUR input! You know your communities better than anyone. You have a wealth of knowledge, which we would like you to share with us. By getting involved in the LDP process, you could help shape the future development of Swansea.’


Save Clyne Valley This article concentrates on the two candidate sites for residential development that are currently under the designation ‘Country Park’, in this case Clyne Valley Country Park. Both sites have been nominated by the landowner: the City & County of Swansea (CCS). Site SK0026 is at the Derwen Fawr end of the Valley, around the recycling area, and children’s playground, and calls for a change of use from parkland and former landfill to parkland, leisure and residential. Site KS0001 (called ‘Land off Gower Road, Killay’, with NO mention of it currently being Clyne Valley Country Park in the submission) are ALL the fields near the Railway Inn end of the Park, more specifically around Clyne Valley Cottages and behind Gower Road up to St. Hilary’s Church. ALL these fields and trackways together with some ancient woodland WITHIN and OUTSIDE the field boundaries are proposed for a change of use from ‘grazing’ to ‘residential’. To discover more about this site (or remind yourself what’s at stake) a short video is now available on Swansea Telly entitled ‘Save Clyne Valley!’ Many people reject the idea of building on these areas which are designated for people and wildlife, what are your thoughts? The current UDP actually DOES allow such development....if necessary....for ‘affordable housing’. However, can that ever be true? Surely, by definition, houses built in the special places that a Country Park covers can never be ‘affordable’. An Action Group has been set up, an emailing group formed, a Facebook Group (Save Clyne Woods) started, a petition created and a website has been set up:


Have Your Say The Swansea Planning Dept encourages you to have your say, but the closing date to do that is soon, on 30th September. That means doing it NOW, and also getting all your friends interested too. After the public consultation closes, The Planning Policy Team will carry out detailed assessment and filtering of all candidate sites over the next year, to ensure that only the most appropriate sites are carried forward to meet future needs. So, as interested parties with local knowledge, our involvement now is to ensure that we give quality feedback through the consultation process about the special features that could lead to the exclusion (or inclusion) of particular sites. Making your objections and comments known through the LDP process has been made as easy as possible, especially if you enter them online. Our website contains lots of helpful hints as it leads you through the process on the Have Your Say page. We also have 4 pages of comments that you can choose to copy and paste once you’ve decided which most fit your own concerns. You may also wish to change them to fit your own ‘voice’. Many are in ‘planning-speak’ as we have pre-digested much information about what exactly are useful types of comments to make. And we are adding to the lists all the time as we ourselves get greater expertise and, even more importantly, get further information to support the comments, in particular the sorts of wildlife at risk.


Making Comments on Other Sites You may have considered commenting on sites near where you live, but are unsure how to do it, or what to say. Our website should be a tremendous resource to you. Use the ‘Have your Say’ page but choose the site you’re interested in, follow this link to ALL candidate sites which are found through the Swansea LDP pages. Scroll down to your area and view the site that concerns you. Note, the sites are arranged within alphabetical order of the AREA it is in, so KS001 is revealed under Killay South, and SK0026 under Sketty. Now, what to say? If it’s either of the Clyne Valley sites, the website has a page of comments for each, also for ‘Country Parks’ and ‘green wedge’ in general, plus one for the Killay North sites. If your site is elsewhere, you may find the ‘green wedge’ comment page useful. ‘Good’ Sites There are some candidate sites that you may deem ‘good’ or ‘useful’. Swansea WILL need extra houses that need to be planned for now. Where will they be? Look through your local sites and approve helpful ones. For example, Hendrefoilan Student Village will not be needed by the University in a few years and could be sanctioned for continuing residential use in the private housing market. Some candidate sites are to protect our green space and wildlife, or for recreation. Clyne Valley has three: MY0008, SK0031 and KS0002. Approving and commenting favourably on those sites will encourage continued use as greenspace, recreation, and Country Park.


Expertise Needed The action group needs YOUR help, not only in commenting online, but also if you have (or know anyone that has) expertise in areas of history or wildlife of the sites, for example. We are learning so much so quickly: there’s an ancient road threatened by KS001 that appears to be as old as Gower road itself. Our knowledge of wildlife that lives there has been extended to include polecats and rare slime moulds. But we need MORE and deeper knowledge QUICKLY. What do you and your friends know that would be useful for the Campaign? Please email us with your knowledge and discoveries. Are you a member (or organiser) of interest groups that would like to become involved? Perhaps you’re a cyclist, rambler, bird-watcher, bat-man, insect expert etc, etc. Perhaps your group/s has useful information? Can you tell your members about our campaign,via your website and emailing lists? Commit to Action Please don’t leave it to others! We need quick and effective action to shape our Swansea of the future. Visit the Swansea LDP pages and, using the information there to comment online, and then tell your friends. Phone them. Email them. Facebook them. Twitter them. Whatever you do, DO it! The power IS in our hands....HAVE YOUR SAY NOW and protect the wonderful Swansea countryside for all who inherit from us.



Flute LessonS

If you are a beginner, the consultation lesson will allow you to try a flute and get advice about hiring or buying an instrument, if you then decide that you wish to start. If you play already a longer consultation will be appropriate. Individual weekly or fortnightly lessons can then be arranged of any length from 20 to 40 minutes depending upon age, standard and stamina. Theory lessons and pre-instrumental classes are also available. Pre-instrumental lessons are usually taken in groups and prepare children for learning any instrument. The Curwen and Dalcroze techniques used help develop the child's aural awareness and aim to get them feeling music as well as reading it before beginning to play.


Rhian Clement B. Mus (Hons) Lond. Rhian enjoys teaching from beginner to conservatoire level and offers professional lessons for beginners, non-beginners, children and adults. *Enhanced CRB disclosure. To find out more and/or to arrange a time for a consultation lesson:

Tel: 01792 233978 or for texts 07772 533891 e-mail:

‘Gower Labradors’

Black Labrador Retriever Puppies Pedigree Retriever Labradors Puppies > Available Early November 2011

> Dam and Sire Kennel Club Registered

> Dam and Sire Excellent Hip Scores/Clear Eyes

> Puppies: To be Microchipped, Given 1st Vaccine and KC Registered with Endorsements

> For More Information & Register Interest Online



Coffee and Croissants

Saturday 1st October 10am

ÂŁ10/adult To register, send an email to: Includes: coffee/tea/croissants and homemade cakes - plus a chance to explore Gower with others. Proceeds to Macmillan Cancer Support.



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Issue 6 - 10/09/2011 - Copyright 2011 - All Rights Reserved

Biography Ian Ambrose - Editor BA (Hons) FInstAM (Dip) MInstLM

Ian grew up in Swansea and spent much of his summer holidaying around the Gower peninsula. After leaving school at the age of 16, Ian enlisted into the British Army as a professional musician. On completion of 12 years service in 2003, Ian became Community Manager for The Salvation Army at their Richardson Street Citadel in Swansea, having first gained a Diploma in Administrative Management through the British Army’s resettlement training programme. In 2007 Ian established Prestige Ironing, a professional collect and return ironing service in Swansea. As part of his continuing professional development, Ian graduated from Swansea Metropolitan University in 2011 with a First Class Honours in Public Services. Ian is a Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management and a Member of the Institute of Leadership and Management. Ian’s interests include: management, leadership, administration, marketing communication, writing, hyper-local blogging and social media. He is married with three children and lives on the Gower peninsula. Gower News was established by Ian in 2009 - it has continued to develop and grow into Gower’s most up-to-date independent news, events and information service for Gower.

Biography Chris Ridgway - Scientific Editor BSc (Hons)

Chris was born and bred in Gowerton and attended Gowerton Comprehensive between 1987-1994; he subsequently gained a BSc (Hons) in Geology from the University of Wales, Cardiff in 1997. After graduating, Chris worked as a Geophysicist for an Oil Exploration Company based in Aberdeen, Scotland. He subsequently gained his professional qualifications in Houston, Texas and has performed many exploration surveys across the world from sub-Sahara Africa to former Soviet Republics. Since returning to his home town of Swansea, Chris has taken the lead role of Environmental Scientist at Tir-John Landfill. Chris is married with three children and currently lives in the village of Grovesend in the Gower Constituency.

Gower e-News Issue 6 10th September 2011  

10th September 2011: The Gower Cycling Festival kicks off today - let's hope the weather is kind to them this week. Gower e-News is an onlin...

Gower e-News Issue 6 10th September 2011  

10th September 2011: The Gower Cycling Festival kicks off today - let's hope the weather is kind to them this week. Gower e-News is an onlin...