Carry on Camping

Three Cliffs Bay

Three Cliffs Bay

After we’d been camping in Tenby in July, Ryan bought a tent and was determined to use it before camping season ended. So he booked a two night stay in Three Cliffs Bay in the Gower for himself and our mates Rich and Hannah. We weren’t going to go because Cat had her knee operation on August 28th and we weren’t sure if her knee could withstand camping four weeks after the op. Then we heard the forecast was for rain. Camping in the rain wouldn’t bother us, but being stuck in a tent with nothing to do would drive us insane, especially when we knew there were castles to explore. This week we’d finally made up our minds to go. And the forecast improved. We discovered that two of the castles nearby were haunted so we arranged for Neen, the newest member of Calamityvile to join us at Oystermouth. Forget camping, this was Calamping.

Ryan went straight to the Gower after work so we joined him later in the evening, doing some beast spotting as we travelled through country lanes. We’re not experts in cryptozoology but we debunked some beast sightings as sheep and wild ponies. By the time we got to the campsite, the daylight was dying, so we assembled Ryan’s tent by headlights and luck. Rich & Hannah got lost so didn’t arrive for another hour. We spent the evening playing the card game Avalon, which always descends into wild accusations of treachery and passionate pleas of innocence and causes you to manipulate and yell at your friends. It’s a lot of fun.

Pennard Castle

Pennard Castle

Saturday morning we were all set for exploring Three Cliffs Bay and Pennard Castle. Pennard is supposedly haunted by a Gwrach y Rhibyn, a Welsh banshee. She’s hideous with black leathery bat wings, waxy skin, rotting teeth and straggly hair. She usually haunts moats and crossroads and on a rainy night, will rise from the depths and call the name of the person doomed to die, like a terrifying game show host. Once she’s called your name, she returns for you and knocks on your bedroom window before dragging your soul to Hell, without giving you the chance to claim the star prize. She features in one of our stories in Deadly Reflections so we had to see if we could find her. There is also a rumour that if you spend the night in Pennard Castle, the Gwrach y Rhibyn causes you to go mad. We were tempted.

We tried to find a way to the beach from our campsite. Us and Rich were all for hacking our way through the brambles and steep drop that bordered our campsite but Ryan and Hannah talked us out of it. After failing to find a way down, we asked the owner. Having to ask how to get to our locations kind of ruined the adventure feel we’d set out with. We walked to the beach and crossed the serpentine estuary via stepping stones onto sand dunes. They soon gave way to marshland, where we determined grooves gouged into the ground were the drag marks of beast victims. We spotted paw prints with claws, which we were certain were beast prints. We considered warning other tourists as they seemed oblivious to the danger, but then we decided against it. The beast would need to eat and we refused to be on the menu. With the castle lurking on the cliff above us, we could believe we were in an epic fantasy, as part of an invading army marching to storm the castle. Well, if you can have an army of five armed only with crutches, shortbread and determination.

Pennard Castle

this way to the castle

After marching across a wooden walkway beside the estuary, we saw the way to the castle – a steep sandy slope. We decided to rest at the bottom and eat a bag of Sainsbury’s ready salted crisps before attempting to tackle it. By the time we got to the top we were too exhausted to storm it so just stumbled up to it, trying to catch our breaths. It was hardly the ferocious siege we’d envisioned. We beat the other three to the top and had already explored it by the time they joined us. Turns out, Pennard is basically two walls. It the hardest we’ve ever worked to get to a castle and we had to cross a field of murderous cows to reach Old Beaupre. Behind the castle was a golf course, which totally ruined our imaginations of this epic fantasy setting. You wouldn’t wander out of Winterfell onto the eighteenth hole.

Pennard Castle

Hannah, Rich, Ryan & creepy guy

Whilst we were exploring, we saw a guy walking through the grounds. We avoided him and hid through one of the arches. He stopped to talk to the others. After a while, we wandered over to join them and within seconds, our spidey senses were tingling. This guy gave off a vibe so wrong it almost made our K2 light up. After he told us we’d look good in films, we scarpered. And his teeth were unnaturally white and straight. They really didn’t fit with his face. Our first thought was the police might have his teeth impressions on file after a dastardly case of cannibalism and he’d replaced them with dentures to avoid detection. After he’d gone, Rich and Hannah both said they’d been creeped out by him. Luckily Rich had one of Cat’s crutches, so if the guy had tried anything, Rich could have whacked him off the mountain with the crutch. Rich even pulled Hannah away from the guy and got the crutch ready should the creepy teeth man attempt anything murderous.

Then there was another bizarre incident. A woman was cradling some cloth then sat beside our group and opened the cloth. Inside were 6 or 7 enormous mushrooms. She kept watching us as she examined the mushrooms, like she was paranoid we were going to take them. We half expected her to snarl ‘my precioussss’ whilst glowering. She then gathered them up in the cloth and walked away.

We decided to rest and enjoy the view – we could see General Pinkinton perched on the top of the slope even from this distance, like a glowing pink beacon of hope – before heading back when a dog started barking. We could see it in the ferns not far from us. Then we heard a bag rustling in the bushes, along with a quiet voice telling the dog to shush. The dog wouldn’t stop barking. Every now and again, its owner tried to stop it barking, but she didn’t leave the bush or raise her voice. After thinking back on the events at the castle, Rich came up with a theory – everyone we’d met at the castle had been driven mad by the Gwrach y Rhibyn. Then we heard a strange musical whistling. After standing there, confused and wondering if we were all hallucinating, Hannah worked out what it was – the wind blowing through the holes in Cat’s crutches and turning them into musical instruments. After the experiences we’d had, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the music came from fairies trying to lead us into the perpetual dance.

The trip back to the campsite was a mad rush because we’d arranged to meet Neen at 3 p.m. at Oystermouth and it was already 2:25 p.m. By the time we got back to the campsite, it was about 3 p.m. After guzzling some cake and Red Bull, we were ready to go. Cat was back on her crutches on the way back and had slapped an ice pack on her knee. The rest of our group were too exhausted to come, so we headed out alone.

And got utterly, horribly lost.

Oystermouth Castle

Oystermouth Castle

First off, the AA route planner forgot to mention a T junction then the next instructions were to drive for 4 miles and we’d arrive on Newton Road. We were on the phone to Neen, who was trying to find us on her 3G. She was on Newton Road and according to the road sign, so were we. But we weren’t in the same place. We were wondering whether there was some weird parallel universe thing happening. Turns out, we were above Newton Road, on some sort of fake Newton Road. We had to take a windy downhill road to join Newton Road. Neen was parked opposite the police station. We drove through Oystermouth. No police station. We drove back through Oystermouth. Still no police station. And so began another Calamityville meltdown. Most of that journey will have to be bleeped out. We turned around again and found Neen waiting for us in a junction. We sheepishly followed her to the car park. By this time it was 4:15 p.m. and the castle closed at 5 p.m.

Oystermouth Castle

The prison at Oystermouth

The worker who greeted us was lovely and gave us a map of the castle and told us a bit about it. He was concerned about Cat, as she was on her crutches, but she assured him she’d be fine and we set off. Oystermouth is reputedly haunted by a white lady, with bloodied lashes on her back. The legend is that she was whipped to death and has been seen wandering the grounds, crying. Unfortunately, our tour of the castle was a bit rushed and we only had time to do one EVP session in the prison. The worker told us about other ghosts that had been spotted there – 36 in total. We only wish we’d had more time to explore it properly. As he was ringing the bell for chucking out time, we snuck off for comedy photos with cutout heads.

St Illtyd's churchyard

St Illtyd’s churchyard

Then it was on to St Illtyd’s church in Oxwich, which is supposedly haunted by a Ceffyl Dwr – a water horse. We found no traces of it but the graveyard was stunning, partially set in woods and surrounding a beautiful old church. The horse has been seen by a well in the graveyard. There was no well. Turns out we’re as bad at hunting mythological beasts as we are at hunting ghosts. So we returned to the campsite for a game of Cyclades and more finger pointing rounds of Avalon. Loud music blared out – a band were filming a music video on the beach, complete with floodlights. And they were staying a few tents away from us. They were really good and had a Thirty Seconds to Mars sound to them. After that we were asked by two different people if we were in the band. For some reason, “are you in a band?” is one of the most common questions we’re asked. Guess camping in our best Gothic clothes makes us stand out. Unfortunately, we have the musical talents of an octopus.

Weobley Castle

Weobley Castle

The next morning we packed up, hung out at the campsite for a bit then we headed for Weobley castle while Ryan, Rich and Hannah headed home. We only got lost twice. Once we ended up driving through what appeared to be moors, with ponies and cows guarding the road. We knew we’d gone wrong when the turning right in 0.7 miles didn’t exist over 2 miles later. We turned around and ventured off down country lanes, once again taking another wrong turn before some ramblers pointed us in the right direction. Weobley castle was lovely. We closed the gate behind us, declared the castle ours and kicked out the peasants. At one point we were the only people there. A sign warned visitors to take care to avoid accidents. Cat nearly had two, going over on her ankle which resulted in her nearly falling off the wall we were climbing on. Then she tripped.

Then we tried to get home. With no AA route planner and only an Atlas and our dodgy memories to help us. We figured we’d just retrace our route back to the campsite. It seemed easy. Bad move. We put a call into NASA to see if their satellites could find us and even they shrugged their shoulders and wished us luck. Miles and miles of country lanes and moor type lands later, we found houses and pulled over to stare at the map, trying to look like we knew what we were doing. We clearly weren’t fooling anyone as a nice pensioner came over to offer assistance. He soon pointed us in the right way. So we set off, full of hope.

And promptly got lost.

Weobley Castle

Taking over Weobley Castle

7 Comments

  1. Sounded like a hoot – although the man with the perfect teeth sounded a bit strange …

    • It was so much fun. We were discussing the guy back at the tent and Ryan was completely oblivious to how creepy the guy or how unnerved the rest of us were by him 😀

  2. Maybe the GUY with the teeth was the witch thingy!! In disguise…and Ryan got suckered! Oh boy…watch him carefully for a fortnight….

    • ooh we didn’t think of that. Ryan has come down with a bad cold…

      • well that might be more because he forgot his pj’s, but you never know 😉

  3. LOLOL @ “You wouldn’t wander out of Winterfell onto the eighteenth hole.”

    It wouldn’t be Calamping without getting lost at least once so I’d count that as a stellar trip 😉

    Glad Cat didn’t fall. Poor thing!

    • After walking through the dunes, crossing a river and marshland then hiking up a sandy slope to get to the castle, finding a golf course right beside really killed the Game of Thrones feel we’d had.
      The Oystermouth episode has a double meltdown because it was just us in the car with nobody to calm us down. We might have to bleep most of it 😀


Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s