I spent a lot of time as a kid down Gower, or more specifically, Tor Bay, with my parents. Getting up before sunrise, grabbing the tent, bodyboards and packed breakfast and heading down to the beach before the sand was tainted by anyone else's footprints. But despite frequent trips to the coastline, we never really explored anything else around Gower. It had never really crossed my mind until I came across some photos of a piece of beautiful coastline, which I instantly assumed to be abroad, somewhere like Spain it looked. But after a bit of searching, I was shocked to find out that it was only a few hours from me, down on the Pembrokeshire coast. This then got me thinking, what else was right under my nose?
After growing up in swansea and having Gower on my doorstep, I kind of just took it for granted, I naively thought that I had seen everything there was to see. Fast forward to January 2018 and i’m sat at home trying to come up with plans for this year, or rather, some plans for the immediate future so I don’t go stir crazy sat in my office until we have longer evenings and drier days. I’m looking at flights to try and gain some notorious ‘winter sun’, but the further I planned, the higher the budget got. I felt a little beaten and trapped, but desperate to get away and seek some form of adventure.
In place of actual travel, I headed to Go Outdoors just to get out of the house (no irony intended). When I headed to the till with some climbing tape and chalk in hand, preparing to spend the winter months indoors climbing walls, I passed the OS Maps section and remembered my thought of what else was out there that I didn’t know about, what else is out there that I was overlooking and instead escaping to another country in hope of fresh views when plenty lay just on my doorstep?
The last time I had used a map was probably in comprehensive school, and by that, I mean a proper terrain map, not just using Google Maps to navigate me to the nearest fuel station. Since then, the only run ins i’d had with map planning was during the 2017 St.Moritz Womens week where Emily Horridge (owner and guide at The Inside Line MTB) gave a workshop, sharing her experience, skills and advice with us all. I must admit, I was and have been inspired by her natural love for adventure and her ability to plot a brand new route, blind straight from the map and create some awesome experiences from it. So I decided to give it a go, I racked my brain to remember the tips and advice she gave, laid out my new map on the office floor, pencil in hand and cup of tea by my side and learnt and re-learnt map legends and skills.
We planned a route that would take us to the highest point of the Gower, then head over to Rhossili down, and follow the coast path back along to Oxwich where we’d climb back up onto the South Gower road. What followed would be a fresh view of Gowers coastline, a cardio workout and a hatred of Gowers lack of bridleways.