‘Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light’.
Extract from one of Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’.
14th May 2016 marks International Dylan Thomas Day to commemorate one of the 20th century’s most legendary poets renowned for his visionary musical verse and notorious private life. Thomas grew up in Swansea and during our recent visit to Wales we ventured to the Dylan Thomas Centre to learn more about the poet’s tumultuous life and explore the beautiful and rugged region where he was born, lived for many years and from where much of his poetry and writing was inspired by.
Our visit to Swansea was part of a wider trip to Wales to attend Traverse; the UK’s largest blogger conference, which took place in Cardiff this year. On the Sunday, Visit Wales arranged a host of post-conference day-trips and we were lucky enough to get a spot on a tour of the Gower Peninsular with See Wales.
Following our visit to the Dylan Thomas Centre we headed further west along the coastline and deeper into the heart of the Welsh countryside. We arrived at the beautiful Langland Bay and the fresh sea air greeted us (nearly knocked us off our feet) as we stepped out of the bus. We began an enjoyable coastal walk along the cliffs with dramatic views of the sea and secluded inlets sheltered by the surrounding hills.
After nearly being blown away the trail began to descended to Caswell Bay, just round the headland, where a warming cup of hot chocolate awaited us. It is a sheltered spot and families and dogs were playing on the sand, recreating some of Wales’ castles and enjoying the April sunshine. As much as I would have loved to go for a dip in the sea, it wasn’t quite warm enough just yet, not for humans anyway!
Next, we travelled inland and after trundling down winding country lanes and pulling into tiny passing places, we arrived at a gate leading into a park, which didn’t look anything particularly special at first glance. We had arrived at Parc Le Breos; a former medieval deer park. As we walked along the grassy path, surrounded by deep woods on either side, the air rich with the smell of wild garlic, our eyes were drawn to what looked like a pile of stones. Although it didn’t look like much, our guide Adrian went on to explain that it was in fact a Neolithic burial cairn and over 6,000 years old! Historians have discovered roughly what it was but there is still a real sense of mystery shrouding this ancient relic.
A trip to the Gower Peninsula wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Rhossili Beach, a three-mile stretch of coast on the most westerly part of the Peninsula. It is not only consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Wales andhas also won awards for being one of the top ten beaches in the entire world – we could see why! The golden sand stretches out for miles and retains its wild charm as the Atlantic ocean’s giant waves creep up, making it a haven for surfers.
Overlooking the beach is one of the Gower’s most famous landmarks; Worm’s Head, a rock formation shaped like a giant sea serpent or dragon.
Dylan Thomas used to regularly visit Worm’s Head and in his short story, ‘Who Do You Wish Was With Us?’, he wrote:
‘… Laughing on the cliff above the very long golden beach, we pointed out to each other, as though the other were blind, the great rock of the Worm’s Head. The sea was out. We crossed over on slipping stones and stood, at last, triumphantly on the windy top. There was monstrous, thick grass there that made us spring-heeled and we laughed and bounced on it, scaring the sheep who ran up and down the battered sides like goats. Even on this calmest day a wind blew on the Worm.’
Wales has over 400 castles and so it was fitting that our final stop on the tour was Weobley Castle in the north of the Gower Peninsula. It is a 14th century fortified manor house and stands on a hilltop overlooking overlooking the salt marshes of Llanrhidian and the Loughor Estuary. It is very well preserved and definitely worth a visit for some excellent views over the Gower Peninsula.
We thoroughly enjoyed our sneak preview of all of the history, myths and rugged landscapes that Wales has to offer. The Gower Peninsula definitely lived up to its reputation and we will definitely be back to spend a bit more time exploring the dramatic coastline and doing some hiking and hopefully swimming!
Tan y tro nesaf cymru (Until next time Wales)