Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Beware the tides

Worm's Head will hold you hostage

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Sometimes, timing is everything. This is particularly true for those who wish to hike to Worm's Head, a famous promontory on the most westerly tip of the Gower Peninsula in Wales.

The serpent-shaped land mass known as Worm's Head is joined to the mainland by a rocky causeway that is only exposed for 21/2 hours before and after low tide. Many inexperienced hikers have found themselves trapped on the Worm when they miscalculated the tides.

Legend has it that Wales' most famous poet, Dylan Thomas, got trapped on the windswept island more than once. The first time was an accident, but the second time he was accompanied by a young lady and some thought his miscalculation of the tides to be a little too convenient.

The Gower Peninsula is one of the most stunning coastlines in the United Kingdom and Dylan Thomas is not the only poet to find his muse while wandering along its windy cliffs. So famed is this coastline that the Royal Mint created a silver £5 coin depicting Worm's Head to commemorate the London 2012 Olympics and the places, people and history of the nation.

The old rectory that sits along the peninsula is the most popular holiday cottage operated by the National Trust and a visit to the cottage makes it easy to imagine this coastline during the era of Dylan Thomas.

Outside the front gate of the rectory is a commanding view of Rhossili Bay with its expansive sandy beach. At low tide you can see the remains of Helvita, a ship that wrecked in 1887. A paved path leads along the grassy cliff top to a lookout where you can take in a view that encompasses much of this wild coastline. If you follow it far enough and if you arrive at low tide, the path will take you to the rocky causeway that leads to Worm's Head.

As I stood at the lookout on the peninsula, I realized my timing was a little off. If I had come a few hours earlier, I might have been able to hike all the way to Worm's Head. As it was, I had to settle for a walk along the cliff tops and a view of the Worm from the old lookout.

It's easy to see why this peninsula and its beautiful coast are so beloved. As I gazed across the submerged causeway at the famous Worm's Head, I promised myself to return one day at low tide and complete the hike.

-- Postmedia News

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 3, 2013 E9

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