The Gower is home to some of our favourite locations in the Uk (and even further afield), It has a mix of iconic landmarks, huge sandy bays and miles upon miles of cliff top walking along the Wales coast path. For this trip, we decided to further explore some of the more well known spots including Oxwich Bay and Rhosilli, which is home to the famous Worms Head. The forecast was looking fairly grim for this trip but the whole point of building Biggie Small was to get out in all weather and conditions rather than sitting at home.
For our first night we headed to Oxwich and utilised our Brit Stops membership for the first time. We called ahead to the Oxwich Bay hotel and confirmed we would be OK to park overnight in their car park, which also just so happens to be right on the beach and on the route of the Wales Coast path. We arrived late in the afternoon to grey and wet, but empty beach. We took Rory and Jeannie for a run around down towards Tor Bay, and further around to Three Cliffs Bay (which is accessible only at low tide) In total Oxwich beach is around 2 1/2 miles long and is backed by salt marshes, dunes and woodland. It’s this kind of varied terrain that makes the Gower so appealing to us.
After drying off and de sanding back at the van we made some lunch on the Thetford stove. We’re so glad we included this 3 burner hob and oven into our build as currently over winter it is getting used 2-3 times a day. For drying we have been utilising our shower cubicle which gets nice and warm with the heating on. We don’t know how we would have coped without the heating over the last few trips for drying all of our wet gear. For the task of heating and hot water, we have a Truma 4E combi installed.
After a couple of hours relaxing in the van we headed into the Oxwich Bay hotel bar for a couple of drinks. The bar was dog friendly so Rory and Jeannie could accompany us and they had really good Covid distancing measures in place.
The next morning we geared up in waterproofs and headed for the Wales coast path. We have walked miles of this route before but never this particular section which heads west from Oxwich around the cliffs towards Port Eynon. After a moderate up and down climb originating from sea level, the path eventually flattens out towards the headland. At this point, the path splits and you can either continue towards Port Eynon along the cliffs, or double back via a farm track which comes to an end near Oxwich castle. For our hikes we use the OS maps app on our phones, It’s incredibly useful for getting ‘unlost’ or finding good routes in new areas. If you plan ahead you can also download the routes to use offline when no phone signal becomes a thing (which is often in rural Wales). On returning from our walk in the dry, Jess decided to take a revitalizing swim whilst I watched from the beach with two shivering dogs.
We stayed overnight near Rhosilli and parked up in the National Trust car park during the day. For £6 a month it has been really beneficial to us having a membership. A single day's car parking in a van can be over £8 at their locations. As the sun came up over the headland Marcus headed out with the drone and camera whilst Jess remained in bed spooning two dogs.
After spending a while wandering around with the wild roaming horses we had breakfast and headed down to the beach. Rhosilli beach spans just under 3m (5km) and at lower tides, it is also really wide so there is always plenty of room. When the tide dropping you can also make out the wreckage of the Helvetia shipwreck on the south end of the beach. After spending, a few hours between the beach and the headland at the foot of Worms head we left the girls in the van and headed into the Bay Bistro for a vegan sausage bap and wedges before leaving for home.
What we have learned from this trip
1. The mix of warm and cold air can generate quite a lot of condensation on the windscreen overnight, even with the cab curtain closed. We are going to pick up a Silver Screen to fit externally to stop this from happening. We had one for our previous van and it was fantastic in winter for insulation/condensation, and in summer for keeping the cab cool.
2. Britstops / pub / hotel stopovers are definitely worth considering for a quiet, legal nights sleep. There are hundreds of stopovers throughout the UK and after our first experience in Oxwich, we would definitely use them in future.
3. Our 3000W inverter was a great addition to the van. Jess was able to use both the hair dryer and her hair straighteners off grid without any power issues.
4. Pack for all weathers. This is especially true in the UK, even more so in winter. We had walks in full waterproofs, insulated jackets and even stripped down to t-shirts all within 72 hours.