This page contains all of the Hill House You Tube videos and some other videos, from other sources, that you might find interesting
During the wedding of Katy and Lewys on the 28th March 2014 I noticed Bart Simpson peeping out at me from inside Llanrhidian church. Lisa and Maggie are also hiding in the image.
Llanrhidian is a village located in the Gower peninsula about 10 miles from Swansea. Swansea is a city in Wales and the Gower peninsula is a prominent feature of Wales’s southern coastline. The Gower peninsula was designated as the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty (ANOB) in 1956 and this has prevented the area from being overdeveloped and over commercialized. It has a beautiful and unspoiled coastline with numerous beaches and bays. Many of the more popular bays have seaside awards and one or two have been voted as Britain’s best beach. These include Caswell, Port Eynon and Three Cliffs. Rhossili Bay is frequently awarded Britain’s best beach award, it regularly appears in the top 3 beaches in Europe and in the top 10 beaches in the World.
The church in Llanrhidian is dedicated to St Rhydian and St Illtyd and the building is of Norman origin.
You can see the high definition version of the Bart Simpson image on our YouTube page – http://youtu.be/grorbJBiYHc
Swansea Jack was a black retriever with a longish coat similar in appearance to a modern Flat-Coated Retriever. However, at the time, he was instead identified as a Newfoundland dog, despite being considerably smaller and lighter in build than the typical modern Newfoundland dog. This was possibly due to the fact that he was reported to have been born in Newfoundland. He lived in the North Dock / River Tawe area of Swansea with his master, William Thomas. Jack would always respond to cries for help from the water, diving into the water and pulling whoever was in difficulty to safety at the dockside.
His first rescue, in June 1931, when he saved a 12-year-old boy, went unreported. A few weeks later, this time in front of a crowd, Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks. His photograph appeared in the local paper and the local council awarded him a silver collar. In 1936, he had the prestigious ‘Bravest Dog of the Year’ award bestowed upon him by the London Star newspaper.
He received a silver cup from the Lord Mayor of London and he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals (‘the canine V.C.’) by the National Canine Defence League (now known as Dogs Trust). Legend has it that in his lifetime he saved 27 people from the Docks / River Tawe. Swansea Jack died in October 1937 after eating rat poison.
His burial monument paid for by public subscription, is located on the Promenade near St. Helen’s Rugby Ground. Swansea Jack was named ‘Dog of the Century’ in 2000 by NewFound Friends of Bristol who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques.
In conclusion, a pub on Oystermouth road, close to Swansea jail, is named Swansea Jack, in honour of the dog.
The nickname for natives of Swansea is “Swansea Jacks”.The nickname for Swansea City AFC, the only premiership football club in Wales, is “The Swans”. However, their official website is called the Jack Mag and their supporters are known as the Jack army.
It is believed that this name stems from the famous dog. A noteworthy claim is that it derives from the nickname given to Swansea’s skilled and dependable sailors. Another theory is that the coal miners of nearby coalfields called the miners from Swansea “Jacks” because their lunch-boxes were uniquely made of Swansea tin and called Jacks.
The smuggling of contraband has been a way of life for many people living close to the sea and shipping routes. The height of smuggling on the Gower peninsula was at its peak during the 18th and 19th centuries. Taxes were high and there was a shortage of many common commodities especially during the Napoleonic wars. It was more lucrative for farm workers to become full-time Gower Smugglers than working the land. This resulted in a shortage of farm labourers and lead to an increase in farm labourers’ wages.
The plethora of secluded bays and sandy inlets along the sparsely populated southern coast of the Gower peninsula was the ideal area for unloading contraband away from prying eyes and the revenue men. At the height of the industrial revolution Swansea was the third largest coal exporting port in Britain and it attracted shipping from all over the world. The crew of the coal ships returning from Ireland, Europe and further afield could supplement their income by loading up with comestibles in foreign ports and offload the goods to the smugglers before docking in Swansea.
The boat of choice for the smugglers was the Bristol Channel pilot cutter. A specialist design of the single-masted boat that was developed for the needs of speeding maritime pilots to large ships entering and leaving the Bristol Channel. The design has been described as the best sailing boat design ever, for being both high speed and highly manoeuvrable and yet easy to handle by just two crew. It has a flat bottom that makes it ideal for sailing close to the shore to unload the contraband loaded, further offshore, from the ships returning to Swansea.
The extent of the smuggling operations and the activities of the smugglers are well documented in the revenue collector’s archives. It appears that the government’s failure to adequately fund the local revenue service lead to an escalation of smuggling activities and the smugglers could operate with impunity. In the 1720s Swansea smugglers were so influential that they had the port’s customs officers summoned for jury service on a day when they landed a large cargo in the harbour.
The activities of smugglers in the Pwll Du area are well documented and it is claimed that more contraband was landed here than anywhere else in the Bristol Channel. The headland at the sheltered bay is 300 feet high and provides an ideal vantage point for guiding the smugglers in and observing the activities of the revenue men. The trail inland from the beach is through the wooded Bishopston valley that provided plenty of cover for the smuggling activities.
The house that now stands behind the shingle bank at Pwll Du was the Beaufort Inn and it, together with the farms at Highway, were the used as staging posts by the smuggling gangs. Most of these gangs were controlled by William Arthur of Great Highway Farm and John Griffiths of Little Highway.
Another infamous smuggling centre was Port Eynon where the Lucas family ran operations from the Salt House. The Lucas family has a long and distinguished history — Sir Charles Lucas fought for the King in the Civil War and was executed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell. John, the black sheep of the family, who after a spell abroad, fortified the Salt House and started his smuggling dynasty. He had a reputation for violence but it is reported that he used the spoils of smuggling to support the Gower poor. Culver hole, a medieval pigeon loft built into a cliffside cave at Port Eynon and Port Eynon church are both reputed to have been used to store contraband goods at the time of the battle of Trafalgar.
It is said Rhossili Bay was ideal for smugglers due to its remote location; one well-known smuggler was William Stote, Innkeeper of Middleton, who imprisoned a revenue officer in his stable. Contraband was hidden all over western Gower and it is reported that especially dug cellars were located on Rhossili Down, Landimore and elsewhere. Some smugglers resorted to deliberately wrecking ships as the booty gained from shipwrecks was a great ‘prize’. The wreckers of Rhossili may have been responsible for some of the shipwrecked in and around the bay. False lanterns set along the coast lured ships to their fate. The infamous ‘Dollar Ship’ was wrecked in Rhossili Bay in the 17th century. Spanish silver dollars depicting Phillip IV dated to 1625 and 1639 were recovered from the wreck over a hundred years later in 1807. It is reported that further finds were made throughout the years, the last being in 1833. Other known shipwrecks in the bay include; City of Bristol 1840, Tocopilla 1878, Mary Stenhouse 1879, Verani 1894, Ann of Bridgewater 1899, Notre Dame de Lourdes 1910, Pansy 161 1941 and the Cleveland 1957. Remains of Helvetia wrecked in 1887 and of Vennerne wrecked in 1894, can still be seen in Rhossili Bay. Some of these ships may have been the victims of the wreckers of Rhossili.
Customs interventions were common and on one occasion 101 casks of brandy, rum and wine were left stranded on Rhossili beach. There are many accounts of clashes between smugglers and revenue men at Pwll Du, Oxwich Port Eynon and Rhossili. At the beginning of the 19th century the revenue men were gaining the upper hand over the smugglers but smaller scale smuggling operations continued.
Two notable appropriately named landmarks are a testament to the smuggling heritage of the Gower coast. These are;
Brandy cove, a small secluded sand inlet between Caswell bay ad Pwll Du.
It is claimed that the Brandy house at Landimore was specifically built for smuggling purposes.
Evidence of the Norman invasion of Wales and their influence on Gower can be seen in the many castles that they built in the peninsula. Oxwich, Oystermouth, Weobley and Penrice are well preserved but the others, at Swansea, Penard, Penmaen, Landimore, Scurlage and Llougher (built on the site of the Roman fort) are in poor condition and some are completely overgrown. Gower peninsula castles that are managed by CADW include Oxwich, Weobley and Swansea castle. Oystermouth Castle is managed by the City of Swansea. All are open to the public and links that give directions, opening times and entry charges are given below. Penrice castle is privately owned and is not open to the public
Just 1.5 miles from Hill House along the coastal footpath Weobley castle is one of the few surviving fortified manor houses in Wales
Visit the website
Oxwich is a grand Tudor house, built in the courtyard style, on a wooded headland above Oxwich Bay.
Visit the website
Swansea Castle 01443 336000The ruins of Swansea castle are on the edge of Castle Square in the centre of Swansea shopping district. The castle can only be viewed from the outside.
Visit the website
Built on a hill at the center of Oystermouth village this castle has a commanding view over Swansea bay and the Mumbles.
Visit the website
The ruins of Pennard Castle are situated on the hill overlooking the valley leading down to Three Cliffs bay and is freely accessible to one and all. The castle dates to the 12th century but ruin probably dates to the 13th and 14th century when the castle was rebuilt. It seems to have been located in a perfect defensive position but by the end of the 14th century, it was abandoned due to the encroaching sand.
Landimore Castle is thought to have been built during the 15th century. Its ruins are overgrown and located on private property, not accessible to the general public, at Bovehill Farm, Landimore.
Gower Surf Schools
Surfing compares with similar sports like snowboarding/skiing in that the very basic skills can be learned in a day but more tuition time is needed to learn control and intermediate skills. The lessons provided by the following schools give an accelerated introduction into a very difficult sport by the use of ‘beach teaching’ the skills required by qualified instructors able to assess individuals ability and surfing conditions. As a measure of the success of the local Surf Schools, the majority of people achieve stand up surfing in their first day. Tuition is also available for surfers who want to improve or learn new skills.
The Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School
The Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School is based in Llangennith. It is a non-profit organisation, the governing body for surfing in Wales, and raises funds to promote surfing in Wales. The School’s role is to teach new surfers the safe, enjoyable use of the sea and to promote environmental awareness. It operates from spring to autumn, full time during the summer months and at weekends and by arrangement early and late in the season. It is the original Llangennith Surf School, the only school based in Llangennith, and has provided surf lessons since 1981. All instructors are Surfing GB or International Surfing Association coaches, Beach Lifeguards and have been CRB/DBS checked. There are female and male instructors and lessons can be conducted in Welsh.
British Surf School
Operates all year round at Caswell Bay and during the summer months at Rhossili Bay. We provide all the surfing equipment you will need for free and we cater for everyone. Our surf coaches have a wide range of experience in coaching people and young people from all walks of life from premier league football players/British Lion rugby players to young people on a pathways project. Surfing is a great way to break barriers, build confidence and get fit. Surf GSD is a member of the GB Surfing school scheme and also on the Approved Outdoor activity providers list for the City and County of Swansea. All surf coaches are qualified lifeguards, BSA surf coaches along with having CRB enhanced checks. Choose from a group or private lessons at Rhossili or Caswell beaches.
Lloyd Cole Surf Academy
Three times Welsh Champion Lloyd Cole is so passionate about Welsh surfing that he has opened a Surf Academy. His aim is to promote Wales as a first-class surf destination whilst helping to develop and nurture Welsh surfing talent. The Academy offers coaching for the complete beginner through to the Elite surfer and Pro weekends with world-class guest coaches. Lloyd Cole Surf Academy prides itself on having the best equipment, coaching facilities and the very best coaches in Wales! If your goals are to experience surfing for the first time, fine tune your current surfing abilities or even competing against the best in the country Lloyd Cole surf academy can help you achieve it and more!
Llangennith Gower Surfing School
Llangennith Surf School run surf lessons and surf courses from Llangennith Beach. The aim of the surf school is to teach individuals how to surf, from absolute beginners through to intermediate level. We have fully qualified BSA and GB Lifeguards Certificate Instructors with the highest quality of coaching, ensuring you have a fantastic experience.
Other Surf Schools
View South Wales Surf Lessons fwebsite
View website Adventure Wales website
Surfing equipment shops
PJ’s Surf Shop
Family run business by enthusiasts who have been surfing for over 40 years, This is the place to find out about surfing, bodyboarding and windsurfing, in South Wales and especially around Llangennith. In our shop, we sell surfboards, wetsuits and many brands of surf clothing. As part of our complete service to surfers and others, we offer surf reports, surfboard hire and repairs as well as giving visitors to Llangennith information about where to stay and what’s going on.
On Board Surf and Snow
Onboard surf and snow have Wale’s largest Boardroom with over fifty surfboards on display, so if you are just starting out, surfing for fun or are surfing on the competition circuit we will have a board to suit your style and technique.
Hot Dog Surf Shop
Hot Dog Surf Shop in Kittle, Gower is located just a couple of miles from the area’s best breaks in the region. The store has an extensive selection of fashion, wetsuits and hardware! Hot Dog offers a relaxed shopping environment away from the crowds on the high street and with free parking, friendly and helpful staff a visit to us is a must!
Big Drop Surf Shop
Big Drop Surf Shop opened in Swansea in 1995 and is one of Wales longest established surf shops. After 18 years in Swansea city centre, we have just moved (2013) to a great new shop situated right on the shore of the estuary in Penclawdd. With a lot more room we will now have space for all those essentials needed for the beach and we have our own customer car park with free parking.
Gower Surf Company
Shops supplying surf boards, wetsuits, clothing, leashes, wax, deck pads, fins, DVDs and anything you might need to go surfing. For surf hire, wetsuit hire, boots, hats, gloves, leashes and anything else you may need to go surfing. A range of surfboard hire is usually available, whether you want to rent a SUP, body board, mini-mal or shortboard.
For over twenty years the Gower Folk Festival has been held at the Greyhound Inn, Oldwalls, Llanrhidian. However, this year the festival has moved to a new home, just a mile or so down the road to Weobley Castle Farm.
It is organised by the Halfpenny Folk club that meets on the first Sunday of every month at The Greyhound Inn.
The festival is unique in that both performers and audiences become members of an exclusive musical party. Ticket sales are limited (350 – 400) so each and every music lover attending is certain to feel the close atmosphere generated throughout the 3-day event. Camping facilities are available on site making for an easy transition from sleeping bag to festival activities, be they workshops or live performances from top folk artists.
The artist’s performance area is in a marquee that can accommodate all ticket holders and the folk music workshops are held in separate tents.
The wonderful, fourteenth century, ruined Weobley Castle stands proudly in the middle of the fully-working sheep farm on the edge of the tidal salt marshes of North Gower.
The catering and full bar will, as always, be provided by Chris, lately of the Greyhound Inn and now the proud proprietor of The Rake & Riddle, Penclawdd. The welcoming and friendly staff will be serving a selection of real ales from its very own award-winning Gower Brewery including the famous Gower Gold as well as a well-stocked bar. There will be hot food available all day including two festival specials every evening. The food is home cooked and locally sourced whenever possible. Don’t forget to try our Gower salt marsh lamb!
The Gower Folk festival & Weobley together offer on-site camping, good food and drink and of course the excellent music!
The festival also can’t happen without a wide variety of people helping out, so if you have been to the festival before, know the area and fancy volunteering, please get in touch
The festival consists of 22 events that are described in the rides programme and route map. In these documents the colours green, blue and red are used to indicate the difficulty of the rides, ranging from gentle (green), through moderate (blue) to relatively challenging (red). These gradings are based on a combination of hilliness and length, thus a 40 mile flat ride may be blue and a 30 mile hilly ride red. Ther evening ‘ride’ on the Friday (No. 19) is not a ride but a social evening at the Dunvant RFC. The remaining 21 rides are all led.
The rides visit many of the Gower peninsula attractions and these are described here clockwise round the Peninsula. In addition to the specific sites mentioned there is a wealth of interest in the Gower ranging from its flowers and bird life through its geology and caves to prehistoric hill forts.
At the southern end of Swansea bay are the villages of Mumbles, Southend and Oystermouth. This is a well established holiday destination with lots of pubs, cafés, independent shops and Oystermouth castle. You get the first glimpse of the rugged Gower coast from Mumbles Head . Rides 2 and 11 take you through this area.
Three Cliffs Bay.
This gem on the South Gower Coast is famous for its three limestone outcrops with the arch under them (pictured). On Ride/walk 18 we cross the stepping stones with views up to Pennard Castle and the three cliffs which crown this arch.
King Arthur’s Stone.
This is a megalithic tomb. Marvel how the stone got where it is! It is located on the Cefn Bryn ridge above Reynoldston. Ride 5visits it. (Climbing it is a challenge!)
The Penrice Yew.
The old yew tree in the graveyard by the 12th Century church is worth a visit on Ride 11. You can try and find the grave of Mary, who was murdered in 1829 and on whose gravestone is a blank space for the murderer’s name. It is on the left near the church entrance
Rhossili Down and Beach.
The highest point in the Gower (193m) is on Rhossili Down. Hang gliding started here The beach is well known for its surfing and Ride 11 follows a path above this beach.
Bridge Pottery, Cheriton.
In this small ‘cottage industry’ salt glazed wear is produced. We visit it on Ride 8 when you will be shown the high temperature wood burning stove used to fire the pots and you may be treated to a pot making demonstration. The sophistication of the process and the skill required is an eye opener.
Weobley Castle and Llanrhidian Marsh.
This 14th century castle is situated on the North Gower coast with a commanding view over tLlanrhidian marsh. Rides 5, 8 and 11 pass close by.
A recent plus for Swansea has been Swansea University’s success in winning a competition for setting up a bike hire scheme. This is on the lines of London’s ‘Boris’ bikes and is expected to be up and running by this year’s Festival. It is sponsored by Santander. You should have a chance to try out one of their bikes on Ride 1 (See programme.); also we have changed the Sail Bridge alternative starting point to the nearby Waterfront Museum where there will be a docking station. This means that for some of our rides you will be able to pick up a hire bike here.
About the cycling
In fairness to the others only take part in a ride if you expect to be able to cope with it. If you have some medical condition which might prove a problem inform the leader.
No special kit is needed for cycling; wear whatever you find comfortable. Bright clothing to make you visible is however recommended for safety reasons, and do bring rainwear.
For the bike [E] = essential; [R] = recommended.
- Bike lock [E]
- Bike pump [E]
- Spare inner tube [E]
- Tools (tyrelevers, spanners, alunkeys) [E]
- Puncture repair kit [R]
- A bell or pinger [R]
- Lights [E foreveningrides]
Electric bike riders are welcome.
On the rides
Before you start check that your bike is road worthy: brakes adjusted, tyres inflated, etc. Keep a safe distance from the person in front and avoid sharp braking (unless you have to). Keep behind the leader and if you decide to leave the ride let him or her know.
Many of the Gower lanes are narrow with blind corners, so take particular care here. Also look out for horses, cattle, sheep and the Gower wild ponies . On the cycle paths look out for oncoming cyclists. Make pedestrians aware of your approach and give children and dogs a wide berth.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Gower Walking Festival is an annual celebration of Gower. Most of all, it’s aim is to encourage participants from all backgrounds to enjoy a unique landscape and a rich heritage. It achieves this by offering an organised, diverse and sustainable programme of events, with minimum environmental impact, to educate, encourage and sometimes challenge those who take part.
Gower Walking Festival – 2018 Saturday 2nd to Sunday 10 June.
We grade the walks as easy, moderate or strenuous and three to four walks are arranged for each day. The walks range from a short ramble to a strenuous 17 miles, so something for everyone’s tastes and abilities. There are lots of different types of walks. You can choose an investigation of Gower churches, a tour of Townhill’s nature corridor, the geology of Gower, sea and poems, a doggy walk, Welsh wildlife, an introduction to navigation. There are too many to list here. The full programme will be posted on our website so keep visiting our website regularly to check.
There is a nominal charge to participate and this may vary slightly for specialist walks. Previously, competitions have been organised for participating photographers and artists so don’t forget your camera or sketch pad.
In addition, there are a few other activities to try out such as Tai Chi, Parkour and mountain boarding for kids. In conclusion, to celebrate the end of the Festival, there is a good old-fashioned Twmpath.
Help or join the Gower Walking Festival team
The Gower Walking Festival is a not for profit organisation run entirely by volunteers. The funds raised pay for the annual festival brochure, posters, flyers and website. Without volunteers there would be no festival, so we hope that as you enjoy your walk or activity you may wish to consider joining us. We are always looking for people to help so If you would like to find out more please get in touch via the Gower Walking Festivals website, their Facebook page or send them an email.
Some of the walks will undoubtedly lead you close to some of Gower’s castles and smugglers haunts. You can read up the articles on our information pages for Gower peninsula castles and Gower smugglers.
There are a number of local rambler groups in the area and all welcome newcomers.
There are five golf clubs located on the Gower peninsula Pennard, Langland Bay, Fairwood Park, Clyne and the Gower Golf and Country Club. All of these golf clubs are all within easy reach of Hill House and are all within 5 miles of each other. There are many more golf clubs just off the peninsula and they are all within easy reach of Hill House.
The Langland Bay golf club is especially suitable if you have non-playing members in your party. They can relax and sun themselves on the beach at Langland or Caswell bay while you complete a leisurely round.
There is also a driving range and 9 hole course at Gowerton.
The Ashley Road pitch and putt course, alongside the promenade, between the university and Blackpill has been converted into the UK’s first FootGolf course. It is a combination of football and golf and you must use your football skills to get the football into the 18 large holes. Nearby is the boating lake at Singleton, with its very own crazy golf course, and the Lido at Blackpill that provides relaxing entertainment for the non-playing members of your party.
Langland Bay Golf Club
Pennard Golf Club
Fairwood Park Golf Club
The Gower Golf Club
Clyne Golf Club
Gowerton Golf Range
Ashleigh Road FootGolf