Day 1: Saturday 23rd April – Llanelli to Hill End (29 miles)
Starting where I left off the weekend before at the Discovery Centre (located right on the millennium coastal footpath), I enjoyed the view across the estuary to Whiteford Burrows, Gower where I was headed.
As a carry-over from the “aggressive” coastline in Pembrokeshire (especially North Pembs) I still have sore knees (knee caps) so the morning run was accompanied by uncomfortable pain. It is also a pain when things do not go according to plan. Passing the Wales National Wetlands Centre, I must have missed a sign so spent an uncomfortable, wasted 40 minutes working my way through bramble and briars around the boundary of the Sewage Works as I headed for the coast to get back on track. This was compounded by over-running the road run in Lougher which took me on to Gowerton before I doubled back! Prior to the start of this “journey”, I was warned that things would go wrong and that I should expect the unexpected. Voila!!
I ran to Penclawdd before stopping for a hot chocolate. I always take the opportunity to leave Moon Shadow cards in such places, which I hope helps to spread the word for the “cause” http://www.moonshadow.wales/ . Onward then, rounding Crofty heading toward Llanrhidian, enjoying wonderful views across Llanrhidian Marshes, Llanrhidian Sands and the Lougher Estuary. My enjoyment was enhanced when I had my lunch on the go (protein balls, energy gel), including an ibuprofen tablet which took away the pain for the remainder of the afternoon.
As I rounded North Hill Tor (the sea was out), I took my “runners” and socks off and walked, ran and scrambled over the marsh and the squelching, mud-banked rivulets. Bizarrely, I enjoyed the experience (the beauty of trail running) eventually arriving at Whiteford National Nature Reserve. Coincidentally, between 1985 and the very beginning of 1990, I managed a portfolio of property for the National Trust…..including this one. The Reserve is covered in Pine woodland. I rounded Whiteford Point before doubling back along Whiteford Sands to the expanse of Broughton Bay: a wonderful experience. I reconnected with the coastal footpath at Broughton Burrows and ran out onto the small island of Burry Holms before turning south and running the final stretch of a 30.5 mile day (!) to Hill End, west of Llangennith.
Day 2: Hill End to Mumbles(26 miles)
It’s not often that one can wake up to the prospect of running along a glorious beach, with the receding waves lapping the shore. This was the case on Sunday morning 24th April, with blue skies and sunshine to-boot.
Rounding the medieval field system at Rhossili, I ran along the Gower Coast National Nature Reserve to Port Eynon, catching up briefly with Jackie and Lynne to have a hot chocolate. Crossing the beach, I re-joined the footpath at Horton, running forward to Oxwich Point. Passing through woods at Oxwich Point, the ascents and descents were “aggressive” and my knees (knee caps) knew it. It was warm on Sunday so I took on board more fluid in the form of a coke at an Oxwich cafe before traversing the beach (below Oxwich Burrows) to
Crossing the beach, I re-joined the footpath at Horton, running forward to Oxwich Point. Passing through woods at Oxwich Point, the ascents and descents were “aggressive” and my knees (knee caps) knew it. It was warm on Sunday so I took on board more fluid in the form of a coke at an Oxwich cafe before traversing the beach (below Oxwich Burrows) to Nicholston Burrows, and onward towards the iconic Three Cliffs Bay.
I scrambled up Shire Combe to the footpath prior to Southgate where I had a lunchtime sandwich, crisps…..and an ibuprofen tablet to take away the pain of my sore knee caps. Running was easier (pain-wise) from here as I passed Pwlldu Bay, Caswell and Langland. In the latter place, I had a ginger beer (good for energy) at the beach cafe, before running to Mumbles Head, Mumbles Pier and then ending the run outside Verdi’s, the completion of marathon 11.
This weekend marked another milestone: the completion of circa ONE-QUARTER of the entire distance of the perimeter of Wales.