Words: Stuart Gammon Pics: Stuart Gammon, Vinny Stelzer & Jeff Rey
Hi, I’m Stu, and a few years ago, I decided to change direction in life – I gave up my job as an alarm engineer and decided to follow my passion and love of SUP, and trained up as a SUP instructor – crazy or what!
It was definitely the right decision, and I haven’t looked back – I have had a fantastic time. It has created so many opportunities for me to travel, explore and paddle, including around the beautiful South Wales Gower coastline near to where I live. As a freelance SUP instructor, I have a tremendous amount of passion for teaching others how to SUP and have been fortunate enough to have had two full seasons of teaching.
Clients have been all ages and abilities, with most of them thinking that they would never in a million years be able to stand up on the board! However, with my knowledge, experience and skills, they all stood up on the board, and I believe that no matter how young or old you are, it’s never too early or late to try something new, like SUP. I get so much personal satisfaction teaching SUP to beginners and do it for the love of it.
I have organised numerous SUP tours around the Gower Peninsula including the ‘Three Cliffs River Paddle’ and ‘Rhossili Sunset Paddle’. Both paddles are amazing and provide a memorable experience. The Three Cliffs River Paddle attracts a lot of attention as it caters for beginners right through to experienced paddlers. The paddle begins in the river at the car park in the Gower Heritage Centre on a high tide. You start by paddling underneath the main road via a stone tunnel and involves having to lay face flat on your board using your arms to gently guide you through the river until you are clear of the tunnel. You can then kneel and steer your way through the winding river.
On a low tide, the river starts a little further downstream, so after a short walk through the woods, you can launch from the riverbank, paddling in complete peace, surrounded by woodland and trees. When the river gradually widens the most spectacular scenery greets you, and one of the first things you’ll see are the ruins of Pennard Castle in the distance overlooking the river.
As you make your way to the entrance of the sea, it’s at this point you’ll be able to hear the ocean, feel the water filling up the river as you paddle towards the sea and then you will see the Three Cliffs in the distance. As you continue and head towards the sea, the Three Cliffs tower above the ocean, which is a spectacular sight and this is the time to get your camera ready!
If it’s a summer evening paddle, you might be lucky enough to see the most incredible sunset, where both the sky and the ocean turn red, and you can choose to paddle out to the Cliffs to sit and watch the sunset. There have been opportunities to paddle through the tunnel underneath the three cliffs on a calm day.
There is a beautiful lagoon at the entrance to the sea to paddle around and a sandbank where you can sit and relax before your paddle back up the river. I have paddled this numerous times, and it is one of the most fantastic paddling experiences I’ve ever done and definitely in my top five.
Further along the Gower coastline is Rhossili Bay which is part of the National Trust and has the most incredible views of Worms Head and Rhossili Beach – the scenery is spectacular! The steep walk down to the beach offers views of the famous Worms Head, also known as the Sleeping Dragon and at low tide, you can see the exposed carcass of the wreck of Helvetia, a Norwegian oak barque that sank in October 1887.
Sunsets in Rhossili
The sunset in Rhossili is spectacular and very popular with paddleboarders, surfers, hand gliders and walkers, all wanting to take photos. With a seal colony at Worms Head, you may be lucky to get to see a seal or dolphin whilst out sitting on the ocean waiting for the sun to go down. When the sun finally sinks into the sea it is a magical sight with the sky and sea turning red, and it leaves you with such a calming feeling, knowing it is just you and nature – it’s so peaceful and can be very emotional.
After the sun has gone down the sky turns pink, and it is not long before darkness sets in and time to paddle back to the beach for the climb up the steep hill, to enjoy a social drink at the Worms Head hotel and bar at the top which has incredible views across the bay. It is an experience you will never forget.
My choice of a paddleboard is ‘Sea Lion Boards’, an eco-friendly company based in the UK and I am fortunate to be an ambassador promoting their brand.
Jeff Rey – Instagram @jeff_msc
Vinny Stelzer – @Tidevisuals
Stuart Gammon – https://adventurestu.com Instagram @supdude.stu
Top featured photo: The Three Sisters. Photo: Swansea Bay Tourism
Further info on visiting Swansea Bay please go to www.visitswanseabay.com