46. Rhossili, Wales, U.K.

Wales had always intrigued me for a number of reasons: the unpronounceable words, the sheep, and the green rolling hills that my parents have talked about since going there themselves a couple decades ago. So Ruth and I had planned to go for the day after our day in Bath, and she picked Rhossili as our destination.

While I haven’t seen the rest of the country, I can’t imagine picking a better introduction than this one. I’ve seen a lot of beaches–and hilly ones, too–but Rhossili was absolutely something else.

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Overview:
Rhossili is located on the southwestern tip of the Gower Peninsula, and its bay is home to–stealing this from the U.K. National Trust–serpents, seascapes and shipwrecks.

How I got there:
Ruth drove us from Bath, which took about 2 hours and change. On the way back, she dropped me at the train station in Cardiff, where I caught the next train back to London.

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Some of the drive, around Swansea, was traffic-y and a little difficult to navigate. But after we got through the city, the road to Rhossili was green and gorgeous. There’s something exciting about knowing that you’re driving to the very edge of a land mass; anticipation builds each time you round a curve in the road, wondering whether you’ll finally see the water emerge on the other side.

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What I did:
First thing: marvel. I’ll let the photos do the talking. (Warning: There are a lot of sheep in this section.)

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The “serpents” part of the Rhossili equation is Worm’s Head, a small, dragon-shaped tidal island that juts into the bay. We walked down in that direction, but unfortunately, we had already missed the daily window when the tide is low enough to cross over to the island and back.  Instead, we walked down to some volcanic rocks, climbing around and checking out the myriad mollusks that clung to them.

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As anyone who’s been to the U.K. knows, weather changes quickly, so when we felt the rain start to come down, we headed back up to wait it out next to the rangers’ outpost. The beach, just a few minutes’ walk away, saw sun the whole time.

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Later, we walked down to the beach itself to explore the shipwreck–which before long was lost to the tide–and walk down the coast.

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There were kids playing in the water, but my calculations, it was WAY too cold for swimming. I guess with the unpredictable weather there, you have to take what you can get, but I was pretty content to hang out on the sand.

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Where I ate:
We got lunch at the Worm’s Head Hotel, mostly because of that. view.

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Later, the signage at Joe’s convinced us to come in for ice cream. After all, we couldn’t risk missing an “absolute must.”

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Joe’s lived up to its billing, and in addition to ice cream, I picked up a package of Welsh cakes, which are flat, griddle-baked breads with fruit (raisins, in my case). They had the consistency of the best scones ever, but they were somehow even more dense and amazing. Way to go, Joe’s.

What I missed:
The rest of Wales. Can’t wait to get back to this incredible corner of the world.

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