Special thanks to John Davies of BayTrans who shared the following stories with us. We’ve added a button at the end of each story in case you wanted to explore further. Enjoy!
One of the pleasures of my current role in life is working in Gower. For eight years I have been promoting visitor travel using public transport and the last four years managing the Sunday Explorer bus service.
In that time Gower has witnessed a phenomenal increase in the numbers of overseas visitors from all over the world and a good percentage of these come by bus, having no car available to them. The number one attraction is undoubtedly Rhossili, its famous beach and Worm’s Head which is known round the world.
It’s been great to engage with these visitors, who I find are unfailingly complimentary about Gower, its beauty and fascination and about the bus service which of course is there to get them where they want to be!
Over the last four years, I have spoken to Gower bus passengers from no fewer than 27 overseas countries – truly remarkable and a sign of the times! Here are some of my favourite anecdotes from the miles and miles of Gower roads I’ve explored!
The Gower Sunday Explorer bus service restarts on 3rd May 2015 until 4th October. Download it here.
En route by bus to Port Eynon to walk the coast path to Rhossili, I got into conversation with three visitors from Brazil; alighting at Port Eynon and having advised them there was more of general interest at Rhossili and that’s where they then travelled on to. Some four hours later, I staggered into Rhossili (this section of coast path is very challenging!) and immediately spotted two of the three ladies (the third was at the church seeking out Edgar Evans’ memorial) who thanked me for my advice and said they thought Rhossili was fabulous and saw a likeness of its beach to Rio’s Copa Cabana (without the crowds!) and Worm’s Head to its Sugar Loaf Mountain – well, Rhossili really is a world icon!
Occasionally, I’ve spent interesting Sunday mornings checking out the hourly departures to Gower at Swansea’s bus station, taking every opportunity to chat to those waiting. A couple from Missouri, USA, were intent on seeing our beautiful beaches and asked about the Mumbles buses. Now I’ve nothing against Mumbles but on Sundays, the buses don’t go as far as Langland, Caswell or Bracelet beaches so I suggested a trip to Gower where they could choose a beach and get a panoramic view of the coast from the bus. Turns out they were travel agents who were now going not only to extol the virtues of Gower but also the great young (me? I have a bus pass!) salesman who introduced them to the opportunity.
Being responsible for managing the Sunday buses on Gower saw me monitoring their performance from time to time. On one such Sunday at Pennard Cliffs, I observed a large group of visitors from India alighting… and alighting… and alighting… 22 in all, a number of families, off the 10 am bus from Swansea. So I asked them where they were headed and was surprised their itinerary was to take in Three Cliffs Bay then on to Rhossili by the next bus from Penmaen. I wished them well with advice to get to Penmaen no more than 2¼ hours later or there would be a 2 hour wait for the subsequent bus. Later that day, I saw the driver who would have been on the 12 noon from Swansea and asked if he had picked up a party of visitors from India: he had; with an already full bus, he couldn’t believe his eyes at the crowd waiting at the roadside in Penmaen but successfully got them all on, standing down the aisle!
A young Italian backpacker joined the 116 bus in Swansea, bought a ticket to ‘Gower’, had no idea where he was going except he needed a nice camp site by the sea. Fellow travellers bombarded him with advice which of course fazed him even more. Camp sites by the sea are harder to find on the north than on the south coast of Gower so I eventually persuaded him to stick with us for an hour and get off at Llangennith. The final irony; the bus stop at Llangennith is at least a mile from Hill End camp site but it’s at least by the sea and one of Europe’s best beaches; so I guess he was satisfied!
I’m sure there are many others who have done it, but this young lady joined the bus at Penclawdd and off at Llanmadoc to do stage umpteen of the Wales Coast Path. She had started somewhere in Flintshire about two weeks earlier and was 80% through her walk. Her method was to park her car at a suitable location, get the bus and walk back and was so relieved to find there was a bus in north Gower on a Sunday – apparently, on the previous Sunday in mid Wales there was no bus so she had had a ‘down day’ on her walk.
Those who have doubts that rural buses are not important for visitors – think again! There’s plenty of information on exploring Swansea Bay right here, what are you waiting for?