Beach & Surfing

Another local favourite and hidden gem (at least at high tide).

The beautifully named Pobbles has everything that the seclusion seeker, hiker and adventurer could want. How can one bay cater for all of these? Simple! This is a cove, beach and super bay all in one and all in 6 hours.............Unique is the only word for it and there certainly isn't another like it on Gower. 

Actually, there may be one similar but you'll have to wait for a much later blog to discover the other one!

So here is Pobbles in all its schizophrenic glory.



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 As classic a cove as you could find, steep dune backdrop, easy angled cliffs, pebble ridge at the top and golden sand to the sea. This is the time for the seclusion seeker and sunbather as this stage of tide provides you with the most shelter from the prevailing south westerly sea breeze. For anyone who likes fishing, then this is the time to head to the top of the cliffs in summer months for good mackerel fishing.




 At mid tide, the bay reveals exploring opportunites aplenty with easy scrambling and a number of small and interestingly formed sea caves to the east end. It also becomes possible to reach the bottom of the first graded rock climbs in the area at the west end of the beach. As the sand drys then you can claim exclusive use of your very own minicove where the kids will find sandy pools that get ever warmer as the sun works its magic!



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And there she is! On bigger low tides the 'super bay' that is Pobbles, Threecliffs and Oxwich Bay is born.( If you want to know more about terms likes 'big low tides and 'small high tides' then look out for a future blog that explains all). 

At low tide, the climbing areas of Shirecombe to the East and the classic Three Cliffs become the climbers oyster. . The walker can enjoy a seemingly never ending stretch of soft, yellow sand. 

There's great spear fishing below Shirecombe and.......Shhhhhhh! don't tell anyone we told you but there's also good bass fishing in the bay as the tide pushes back over the sand.


Is there any surf at Pobbles at any stage of tide? Well, the bay gets plenty of swell but it rarely shows any quality of shape or power. You can have some fun but nothing here for the serious surfer  sorry!

How do you get there at high tide?

Park in Southgate and walk down the side of the golf course or park in Parkmill and walk up and over the dunes from Three Cliffs side.












Aaaah Foxhole! (If its Rock Climbing you want go to the bottom of this post)

 alt"Looks like the tide's in."  

"There's no beach here"

"There are better beaches just over ......[there]"

"What are RipnRock on about?"

All fair comments but those who are in the know cherish this little cove, its inaccessibility, temporary qualities and very, VERY quiet nature. When you go at low tide(only), this little bay shows off the charms that are so magnetic to the locals.

 Fox Hole

 The sand is always wet, comfortable spaces are few. BUT its' a short walk from the National Trust car park in the village of Southgate and will give you an up close and personal experience of the tremendous rock formations that you wouldn't see from the cliff top.

Kids will love the adventure too. A steep but smooth walk down will open up a safe rock scramble on to the sand and immediately on to ever-changing rockpool heaven - Don't forget the nets!

Once you've found a favoured spot here, which will change every time you visit, you'll soon be drawn to all its crooks and nannys and the overpowering wish to explore them. Having said that, on a hot Summer afternoon, don't feel guilt if you just want to smuggly sunbathe knowing that you are in a select crowd who have found this little piece of heaven that will only last for a couple of hours.

The highlight of exploration around here would have to be the cave of Minchin Hole alt, to the East, which has an immense prehistoric relevance This description highlights the extinct and rare fauna of the area and where else will you find the evidence of caveman, Roman era and Dark ages folk making their home during times of trouble and plenty. We would ask you to tread carefully though and stick to already worn routes, these things can never be replaced. This, of course, is why we won't give an exact description of its location- seek and yee shall find.

Further away is Bacon Hole and the  video here will give you an idea of how such an important place in history can soon be upset by too much human traffic Pretty cool though eh?!

This area is a stronghold of the previously at risk Chough  alt, a relative of the crow, with impressive red legs and curved bill. Once you tune in to their distinctive call and appearence you'll think they must be commonplace but please be "chuffed" if you see or hear them because their future is still in jeopardy due to intensive farming practises.

 So; something for the chill out merchant, family, geologist, historian and birder but what about the adventure enthusiast?

This is THE place for sport (with bolts in-situ) climbing on Gower. The crag that bears the same name as the bay is likely to be the most visited sports crag on Gower, it boasts routes from 3+ to the hardest climb on Gower (at the time of writing) at 8b. Its got easy access and a non-tidal position. The only Topo we could find doesn't include the easiest climbs to the west but buying the will help you locate them for sure. Bon chance rock monkeys!!

We hope you enjoyed our post on this special place, please like us on Facebook, follow on Twitter or enjoy our images on Instagram



A serious subject that we feel its our duty to inform you about. On Sunday 27th October 2014 at Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall three people lost their lives in a rip current (sometimes misleadingly called a riptide).

There are at least 8 definitions of the word 'Rip' in the dictionary but we're only concerned with the definitions that relate to the incident and to us here at RipnRock.

rip 1(raltp)

v. rippedrip·pingrips
1. To cut, tear apart, or tear away roughly : to rip a wave apart with amazing turns on a surfboard

rip 2(raltp)

1. A stretch of water in a river, estuary, or tidal channel made rough by waves meeting an opposing current.
2. A rip current.

So that's the origins of our name cleared up but the second definition doesn't help you to know exactly what a rip current is or, more importantly, how to recognise or escape from one should you be unfortunate enough not to spot it before you get in the water.

A Picture paints a thousand words;



Signs of rips can be ; Brown water, foam on the surface, debris floating, water surface is different from the rest of the beach (e.g flat when everywhere else has waves, rippled when everywhere else is flat)


So, what is a rip current?

Rip currents are generally caused by water leaving the beach (maybe after a big wave or after the tide has pushed the water up and over a sand bank) and its trying to get back to sea level by the easiest way possible i.e the easiest way down the slope, similar to way a river acts. This action of heading back down the slope causes a current in a direction that may not be predicted by the unaware.

The problem is that these slopes on the beach are very subtle and often not visible in the sand by the naked eye but the volume of water that finds their path down them is so great that their effect can be like a river running out to sea. Not many people can swim or paddle their boards against a river/rip current for long without getting exhausted and that's why they are so dangerous.

How do I know if I'm caught in a rip?

Whenever you are in the sea you should keep a constant check on where you are in relation to the beach. If you find that you are paddling or swimming in one direction but not seeming to get anywhere then you may be in a rip current and you need to make a new plan before you don't have any energy left.

What are my options if I'm in a rip current?

As always in an emergency situation, you MUST STAY CALM.

Panic wastes energy, loss of energy leads to poor swimming/paddling technique and not making the right decisions.

Once you understand that you are in a rip current then the following graphic explains your options. Hover over for text.


 Swim sideways to the current, the strength of the rip current often weakens further from the shore.

The main points are, STAY CALM, don't try to fight against the rip current, take time to reasses, save energy and do something different than swimming/paddling directly against it.

How often do rip currents occur?

Rips can be present permanently or for medium or very short times on any beach. ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR POSITION RELATIVE TO THE SHORE.

What causes a permenant rip?

A river mouth is an example of a permanent rip current. Its got a slope that channels water out to sea! 

Structures such as rock projections, groynes, drainage pipes or piers often have channels to their sides that provide an easy escape route for water off the beach. These structures are easy to spot and so the rip currents should be easy to avoid if you're aware.

How do I spot a short term rip?

Short term rips (Flash Rips) are more likely in stormy, heavy surf with long sets of waves that increase the volume of water above sea level. This, by nature, increases the volume of water that could suddenly flow down a slope on the beach therefore creating a rip.

If you're in the water at the time it happens, you may not be able spot it forming. Sorry to sound like a broken record but......ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR POSITION RELATIVE TO THE SHORE and if you realise that you are not getting to where you are trying to get to then you may be in a rip. Stay calm and swim/paddle sideways to the current.

Where can I get more information?

Coastguard, lifeguards, local surfers, surf schools, outdoor activity companies and many more, if you're not sure then its better to ask. If you still aren't sure then its wise to give it a miss altogether.

The ocean is a wonderful playground that gives us fantastic experiences and we want to encourage everyone to get in there as often as possible. Its a sad fact however that people get killed in it every year as it can be an extremely hazardous environment. 


Whats not to like about this secluded, beautiful bay? With its rich mixture of history, remnants of an industrial past, remote nature and stunning scenery it has to be one of the unsung  jewels of the Gower coast. (If you're here for surfing then go to the end)

The natural harbour and south east aspect makes it one of the safest places to bathe but carrying much more than your swimming cozzie will require some effort as the nearest access is a walk from Pyle Corner in Bishopston (approx 30mins walk). As you walk around the corner on the approach track and get your first glimpse, you'll first be impressed by the lush green of the trees contrasting with the steep grey limestone cliffs quarried more than a century and a half ago. Before long, you'll take in the small, crescent, natural  harbour mirrored by the  expansive half-moon of the bay with its impressive pebble ridge. This ridge holds back the waters that have travelled under and overground through the Bishopston Valley to form PwllDu (the black pool) that gives the beach its name.

There are two houses on the beach which were both once Inns, one for the quarrymen and one for the sailors, necessary at the time as a communal drinking hole would only have resulted in violence!

Nowadays many of us gaze upon these residences and dream of living there or simply wonder about the practicalities of making our home in such isolation. Luckily, for those who have the inclination, you can delve into the residents' way of life and absorb the atmosphere of this wonderful hidden corner of the Gower Peninsula. Ship cottage has a self contained annex for rent . You won't find more amiable hosts than Bob and Kath to help you on your way with exploring this less-trodden treasure.

This beach gets waves on a big storm swell, sheltered from SW winds but strong rips and unpredictable banks means its a local secret that you're not likely to catch unless you're "On It" !

Brandy Cove is situated at the end of a valley that runs down from Bishopston, Swansea.(If you're looking for surfing then go to the end)

It is a quiet and secluded rocky cove with some strips of sand at low tide, twenty minutes walk from Pyle Corner, Bishopston. Alternatively you can walk around the coastal path from Caswell, great care should be taken on this route as the path clings to the edge of steep cliffs. 

Due to its rocky nature, it tends to be more popular with locals escaping the summer crowds or famiies who love exploring caves, scrambling on the rocks and rock-pooling. Many a stubbed toe has been suffered by those brave enough to swim here!

It really distinguishes itself from other Swansea and Gower beaches by its spooky tales. Old Moll, the Witch of the caves who spread illness, pestilance and misfortune everywhere she went. The haunting screams of the murdered Mamie Stuart. The clunks and clicks of rowing brandy smugglers through the sea mist. The history of the Roman lead mines. 

On reflection, maybe the best time to visit Brandy Cove is on a still and moonlit night.....if you dare!!!

(Surfing- Sheltered from SW winds (ish) depending on the tide and sand levels, you may find a surf able wave here on mid-low-mid tide (ish!)  maybe) Big wave surfers will find a wave off the VERY shallow reef west of caswell on the biggest swells. 

Know your flags

It is really important to know your flags on a beach as they are telling your different things!

Big Orange Windsock - this indicated the wind direction and the wind speed! If the wind sock if flying when you are at the beach, you should NOT use inflatable's.

Red Fag - This flag indicated danger, never enter the water when a red flag is flying.

Black and white chequered flag - this indicated an area made by the beach lifeguards that is for surfers and kayakers only.

Red and Yellow flags - these are the flags you want to be looking out for, they indicate an area on the beach where is safe to swim and enjoy yourself while being watched by a beach lifeguard.


Remember enjoy your summer safely. 



Rubber rings and Lilo's are all to familiar to all of us. But in the sea they could be your worst enemy.

Inflatable's are likely to get caught by any wind and this could lead to your getting swept out to sea. Many beaches will display an orange flag when there is an off-shore wind - this is when they are an absolute no-no. Many lifeguard stations advise against even using them in the sea, though if they are used, is must be between the red and yellow flags.

Never use inflatables in choppy sea conditions. 



Waves and Tides

Fun Facts

Did you know that ocean tides are created by a combination of the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun combined with the rotation of the earth!

Most places have two high tides and low tides per day

There are times during the earth's rotation that the moon and the sun are on the same side and this causes larger tides, these are known as Spring Tides.

The important stuff..

Whenever you head to the beach always check the tides, you may get to the beach and it will be a high tide and the beach will not be accessible. 

Always be cautious about when the tide is going out or coming in, be careful not to get cut off by the tide.

Waves are not safe environments to play in, the sea is very unpredictable and what looks like fun could end in tragedy with bigger waves taking you out to sea.

 Coming up next - Coasteering


What are Rip Tides? Rips are strong currents flowing out to sea, the typical speed of a rip is 0.5meters per second but can reach speeds up to 2.5meters per second - which is faster than any human swimmer! They are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures such as piers. Rip Tides are so strong that if you try swimming agaisnt it, you will just tire youself out.

So what does a Rip Tide look like? Some things to look out for are - foam on the waters surface, rippled patch on the sea where the sea is generally calm and sandy coloured water cause by sand being stirred up from the sea bed.

What happens if you get caught in a Rip Tide? The most important thing to do is to remain calm! Just float with the Rip Tide and get the attention of others who can raise the alarm for help. If you are comfortable in the situation and a good swimmer, you can try swimming parallel to the shore line to escape the Rip Tide. But most importantly remain calm and raise the alarm! Rip Tides are stronger when the sea is rough or on a low tide.

Rip Tides are the cause or about 80% of beach lifeguard rescues. Stay safe and stay in the know. 

Our next #beachsafety blog entry is all about Waves and Tides.

Stay safe on the beaches across Gower this summer with these helpful tips from the RNLI. Where ever possible swim at a beach with a lifeguard on visit to find the beach closest to you with a lifeguard.

Always read and obey the safety signs, they will often be informing you of any dangers that could occur. On lifeguard manned beaches swim between the yellow and red flags as these are the safest areas to be swimming in.

Avoid swimming alone If you see someone getting into difficulty, do not try help them unless you are trained as they could push you uner the surface in a panic, alert the beach lifeguard or if there is no lifeguard call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

More tips to follow in the next blog entry - All about Rip Tides

surfs up

Post 03 March 2013 By Sally Haines In Beach & Surfing

surfs up

Post 03 March 2013 By Sally Haines In Beach & Surfing

Swell due in on Wednesday, yey! Time to surf!

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