Gower Coastal Walk

Gower Coastal Walks – Llanmadoc to Crofty

Part 2: Llanridian to Crofty

This is the last stretch of my walk around the Gower coastal path. I started this particular walk at Llanmadoc, which is three miles along a generally flat, but not always obvious, grassy and often muddy path.

Path to Llanrhidian

Path to Llanrhidian

As I approach Llanrhidian, the atmosphere changes from rural scruffiness to urban tidiness; where the grass is kept short by electric mowers rather than by sheep. I pass along a path with a wooden fence along the one side. This seemed a bit of a shock after all the open spaces.

Llanridian itself is picturesque. It feels very much like a village that has been here for hundreds of years.

There is a unique church dedicated to Saints Illtyd and Rhydian in the village.  The village that grew up around the 6th century church was founded by St. Rhidian, hence it’s name – “Llan” (meaning religious enclosure) “Rhydian” (the founder’s name). Rhydian dedicated the church to St Illtyd, another Celtic saint who was believed to have lived here. You may remember St Illtyd, he was the Celtic founder of the sea-side church at Oxwich and has many churches dedicated to him across Gower and South Wales.

Llanridian Church

Llanridian Church

The church that exists in the village today was built in 14th century. It has a holy well and something known locally as a “leper stone”, as well as a 11th century wheeled cross shaft near it.

Remains of Wheeled Cross

Remains of Wheeled Cross

The so-called leper stone is a probably the remains of a door lintel, or maybe even or tombstone lid and dates from the 9th century. I probably did not have any connection with lepers was, other than in the imaginations of the Victorian who discovered it near the west tower doorway  it in 1865 and subsequently had it moved to the church porch.

Leper Stone, Llanridian Church

Leper Stone, Llanridian Church

According to tradition, when St. Illtyd lived on this spot as hermit, the sea often flooded the site, destroying the saint’s cell and chapel. Several times he built an embankment of mud and stones to protect himself, but in vain. He asked an angel to help him and the sea obeyed the saint, subsiding. He then struck his crozier on the dry shore and a holy well gushed forth, instantaneously. This well still flows today and is said to have curative properties. It is located in a private garden near the Church. It also known as the “milk well” or “butter well” , by locals, as in 1185 milk and butterfat was seen flowing in it instead of water, according to the Annals of Margam. This miraculous event was said to have lasted for at least three hours.

Here I joined the coastal road. The atmosphere changes back to the marsh wildness with the mild peril of possible flooding.

Llanridian Marsh

Flooding Warning Sign, Llanridian Marsh

It the only true coastal road on Gower. It skirts along the side of the wide marsh from Llanridian to Crofty.

Crofty in the distance

Crofty in the distance

I could see Crofty off in the distance, but I wasn’t going to be fooled into thinking it was close because I could see it. I can see Port Talbot from Swansea Beach, it’s still 13 miles away an in no sense “close”. Same goes for Crofty. Turns out its three miles from Llanridian, which was possibly further than I realised when I decided to trudge it’s length. It figured, its flat. It’ll be easy!

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Whiteford Point,  in the distance to the north

Well it was flat but it was also a very long road. It was a very empty road. I passed only three cars/vans and one cyclist in the two hours I was walking on it. The cyclist nearly ran into me when I walked into his path.

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Lone cyclist

I was my fault as I didn’t look over my shoulder when I heard a noise behind me, but I was very tired at this point.

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Pergyl! Danger!

I stopped several times to take photos and enjoyed watching the light change as the clouds moved above my head. It may seem to strange to say, that this was probably my favourite part of all my Gower walks. Strange, it was very beautiful but I decided that I wasn’t going to paint this landscape. It’s too flat for my painting tastes. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it all the more. It’s even hard to capture its essence in a photograph.

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Llanridian Marsh

 

I haven’t attempted to paint it but I loved the sense of wilderness here that it’s present anywhere else along the Gower coastline.

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At one point there must have been a lull in the cold wind and a silence fell and then I heard a rustling in the trees and bushes behind me and then a moment later, I felt its force. It was rather eerie to feel the force of nature.

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Llanridian Marsh

Off in the distance was an aeroplane circling round and round the estuary off over Burry Port where Amelia Earhart landed all those years ago.  Amelia was the first woman to fly (or be flown) across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, when she flew across the Atlantic, this time as the pilot and on her own, four years later she landed in Northern Ireland.

I finally reached the village of Crofty.

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Crofty

It had a distinctly urban feel to it, not like Llanrhidian. By now had drunk both of my 500l bottles of water. I had very sore and stiff legs but I forced myself the trudge with purpose because I knew that I had about 20 minutes to make it to “New Road”, the main road, and catch the bus back home.

As I cut through the streets of Crofty, the roads all seemed unreasonably long but I eventually found the main road and I started walking in the direction of Llanridian. A bus shelter stop appeared.

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A miracle!

It seemed like a miracle to my tired legs. A bus appeared – a number 116 it its distination read “Llanridian” and not Swansea. I was so excited to see a bus with the number I was looking for I hailed it. The rotund bus driver looked at me slowly. No, this wasn’t the bus to Swansea. The stop for that was on the other side of the road. I looked across the road. So he pulled off and I crossed to the other side of the road, although there was no bus shelter or bus sign there. So I waited and waited. After about ten minutes, a school bus pulled up and some street-wise-looking teenagers got off. None of them looked like they were rushing home to do their homework.

Eventually, after I started wondering if Crofty had a taxi service or I’d have to stumble another two miles up the road to Penclawdd, a number 116 bus appeared. It said Swansea on the front. The bus indicated that it was stopping before I put out my hand to hail it. That was handy, I thought. I stepped onto the bus to show the driver my return ticket and as I glanced into his sour face, I realised that he was the same bus driver I spoke to twenty minutes earlier. Not a flicker of recognition passed over his face. I walked to the my seat, glad to sit down after 4 hours walking, chuckling to myself.

I had covered 6 miles and my feet were throbbing. It was a funny end to the walk. I had not seen the sea or river all day but I had smelt the salt and felt the wind. I had hardly seen a soul. It certainly the wildest and flattest part of the coastal path. I was glad it was over and my challenge was finally complete, Well, almost.

Post Script

This isn’t quite my last Gower coastal walk. I haven’t walked out along the causeway to Worms Head. However, you cannot climb to the top of the outer headland between the 1st March and the 31st of August – as it is closed in order to protect the many breeding sea birds, so I am waiting until September to do this final walk.

 

Below is a short video clip of the marshes near Llanmadoc. I’m afraid its rather poor, turn off the sound, but it’ll give you a good sense of of how vast and flat the marshes are.

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18 replies »

  1. I love the remoteness of the marshes near Llanmadoc – so perfect to walk and let your mind wander. The Llanridian Church looks like a perfect location for a Jane Austen novel. So lovely!

  2. That is quite a trek. I would appreciate the flatness however. There is something very appealing about a flat road stretching out in front of me. Nice photos and lots of interesting information included in this walk post.

  3. Mmmm….I think this is your best Gower Walk post yet. I really enjoyed the villages and all the greenery. Laughing at the bus driver–such a curmudgeon! Tip for video next time: if you want to do a panorama shot like the one you used here, just go slower. Way slower than you think you need to. It will be perfect!

    • Thank you Alli. I hadn’t intended to post that very ropey video clip and thank you for the tip about slow panning. I will definitely do that next time (and bring a tripod too).

      • If you turn slowly and you’re on fairly level ground you probably won’t need that tripod. A couple of bumps in a video don’t intrude too much; the important part is letting the viewer see what you are recording. If you just whiz by things, the viewer is left saying, what the heck was that? 30 years working in the television industry let me figure that out LOL!

  4. A very different landscape than you usually feature, Emma. 🙂 🙂 Cyclists can be a horror when you’re walking. I wish they still rang their bells. It makes you jump but at least you know they’re there.

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