Gower Way- Part 1- 15miles – Penlle’r Castell to Gowerton
You’ve decided to take on the challenge (great!) and you’ve found yourself atop Mynnydd Y Betws and stood beside Penlle’r Castell and marker No.50. What will smack you round the face like a soggy moss is the contrast between the historical nostalgia of the13th century defensive fortification and a vision of the future provided by the immense wind turbines that adorn the hillside to the west. These turbines, not unlike their architectural predecessors, have their enemies. Understandably, there is a strong lobby that objects to the turbines and their expansion and it’s not the last battle being waged by the local communities against the introduction of renewable energy projects that you’ll witness along this route.
Besides the politics, it’s a place that takes your breath away. If you’re shrouded in mist then the ominous feeling of isolation and exposure from the moorland around can make you feel that you’re truly in a wilderness. If you’re lucky enough to be here on a clear day then then you’ll see the Black Mountain to the North and to the south you can see the south and north coasts of your ultimate goal- The Gower Peninsula.
Having given your first marker a friendly pat, head east for 400m to the road and then SSW on a well marked and worn trail, if you start to go steeply down, hill as many have, then you’re heading too far east, follow the trail!
This leads to a mountain road, be sure to shout ‘Allez! Allez!’ to the hardcore cyclists who use this as a training ground.
As the forestry on the right approaches you’ll be glad to get off the tarmac and reconnnect with the land again, follow your nose and don’t be distracted by track junctions in the woods. Soon enough you’ll be rewarded by a view of the Upper Lliw resevoiralt . This was opened in 1892 to provide water for Swansea and will provide you with a place for a well earned break and a cup of coffee watching the bird life. If you’re travelling light and not carrying a flask don’t worry, a cafe on the lower resevoir might be open!
Cross the dam and follow the valley southwards and as you get the first glimpse of the lower LLiw resevoir (opened in 1863) don’t miss your opportunity to descend to a lower lakeside path, via a style, instead of following the access road. At the southern end of the this lovely lake is the cafe and toilets- which may come as some relief.
Cross the damn and descend through pleasant countryside and fields into the village of Felindre which has the http://www.shepherdsinn.co.uk/ if you’re in need of some liquid refreshment or a light bite. About 1km of road walking follows before turning off SE towards Gelli-wern Isaf farm and (at the time of writing) numerous signs against a proposed renewable energy project. These couple of kilometres can be tricky to navigate due to a lack of signs and a never ending number of fence lines that seem to be set to confuse, the best hint we have for you is to keep the stream to your right and not too far away and as soon as you see buildings, head towards them, they’ll take you onto the road and into Pontlliw via the road and on towards Gorseinon and Gowerton.
Ok, Its honesty time. We’re not fans of the next section but we can see that some may be endeared to its dubious merits. The down sides? Road walking, built up areas, traffic, litter and the post industrial landcsape. Merits? The post industrial landscape from the tin plate, steel processing and mining eras also the sense of continuity as you cross the River Lliw a couple of times toward the end of the section in Gowerton PLUS the excitement of entering one of the ‘Gateways to Gower’! Other than these, we cannot get inspired to tell you more sorry but feelfree to research via these wikipedia links;
Relatively simple map work and signposting should soon see you getting onto the cycle path where this first section of the Gower Way ends, well done you!! If you’re anything like us then you’ll feel quite urbanised by this point and needing a fix a more rural natural environment. This should be your inspiration for starting the next section which we’llcover very soon.