Big Family Gathering on Gower

We spent most of my childhood holidays on Gower (not THE Gower, apparently…) enjoying the world-class beaches and benign microclimate, whilst blissfully unaware of the wealth of climbing available under our noses (not that I had any interest in climbing at that age, except for an inate love of scrambling).

Fast forward forty years and we’re planning a BFG (Big Family Gathering), so where better for a trip down memory lane with a bit of climbing thrown in? We managed to squeeze seventeen of us (plus Bodie and Jasper, the four-legged contingent) into an old farmhouse and a couple of campervans in Pitton Cross, an idyllic spot near Rhossili (a candidate for Best Beach in Britain and perhaps the focal point of the Gower sportsclimbing scene).

Tash, Jake, Leah and I headed down early on Friday in time to bag a couple of routes before the rest of the tribe arrived that evening. With low tide around 4pm that was actually pretty convenient, and we managed nab the Top 50 Fist Full of Tenners, 4c in the very brief interlude when it wasn’t under water (it’s at the very far right hand side of the crag and only dry for an hour or so each low tide.)

Meanwhile Tash courageously took a dip to complete a week of outdoor swimming every day

Then we headed up the beach to Shipwreck Cove, the centrepiece of Rhossili climbing, and Jake and I did Where has Stu Gone?, 6c+ (tougher than it looks!)

and Jake did the Top 50 One Tonne Depot, 7b+

Fab spot!

… and the perfect way to work up an appetite for dinner at The Wormshead Hotel…

Saturday started with a bit of a sea fret, but any thoughts of a lie-in were rudely interrupted by a knock on the van door just after 8am – clearly Just and John hadn’t realised that the talk of a run the previous evening had been beer-fuelled banter. A bit of bro-suasion had me up and dressed in 5 minutes, ready for a short jog.

That allowed the mist to burn off revealing a stupendous day. Back to Rhossili for sand castles,

Boogie boarding (or Bodie boarding)

Rounders,

… and swimming (they even got me in!)

All of which could be comfortably accommodated before the sea revealed the crag around 3ish.

The place was absolutely rammed – perhaps not surprising for bank holiday Saturday, and exacerbated by the limited time slot and available dry land. Jake did Marine Layer, 7a+

and made a pretty good stab at Vennerne, 8a. Leah did Border Control and Pure Cino.

Sunday morning was pretty grim, which resulted in a mammoth (and VERY competitive) game of Monopoly – I’ve never seen so many houses and hotels!

… by which time it had perked up enough for a late-afternoon jaunt to Three Cliffs Bay (another contender for Britain’s Best Beach)

Iconic landmark of the region, the eponymous cliffs not only provide some excellent, well-featured slab climbing but also a great backdrop for a hard-fought game of French Cricket (you can just about make out Jake and Leah in the background on Perseverance)

Monday finished with a wander along another favourite haunt – Horton Beach (and another swim for Tash)

… followed by a quick couple of routes on Lewes Castle above the more secluded Mewslade Bay.

Jake and I did Lazy Sunday Afternoon, E2 5b

and Seth, E1 5c

Both excellent, with stiff but short and well-protected cruxes.

Brilliant weekend and a clear demonstration that this has to be amongst the most family-friendly cragging destinations in the country. Sand castles, swimming and sends – it’s got the lot!

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