Gower Folk Festival, June 2012

This was the third occasion that the club has attended this small yet very popular festival. The first time I had visions of Glastonbury, tens of thousands of people, mud, noise and head banging acts; it is none of these.

The music is based in the Parkmill Heritage Centre and caters for a maximum of about four hundred people with the campsite at Three Cliffs Bay about half a mile away.

The added attractions of the weekend include rock climbing (of which more later), very attractive coastal walking, and views across the Bristol Channel to Exmoor to the south, and the Black Mountains to the north. At low tide there are miles of white sandy beaches.

A slight problem experienced this year was that on arrival, the wind, which comes straight off the Atlantic was blowing quite strongly, and putting the tents up became a co-operative effort with four or five people controlling the flapping fabric while others drove in pegs and rigged the guy lines. Eventually everything was sorted and secured.

Friday night is dance night at the festival, and most, if not all, members had at least one turn on the floor. French-style tunes were much in evidence with the Bourree and Schottische proving very popular.

On Saturday the wind had dropped, the sun came out, and with the tide high some decided on a walk to the ruined castle while others attended dancing, singing, and musical instrument workshops at the centre. The walk encountered a slight hitch in that with a high tide the stepping stones across the river were under eighteen inches of water and a diversion up stream to find an alternate crossing point took us three quarters of a mile inland to the road bridge and then via the local golf course. The Castle just consisted of part of the curtain wall, but a pleasant stroll nevertheless. By early afternoon the tide had begun to ebb, so a small band gathered up their ropes and gear and headed for the climbing area. This is accessed via a natural arch through the cliff, which only becomes passable as the water recedes. Three routes were ascended, of varying difficulty, but very enjoyable climbing. It does however pay to keep an eye on the sea behind you as it can rise quite quickly.

Tide and time wait for no man however, and mobile phone instructions to get yourself back to the tent and start preparing dinner, curtailed the expedition as the festival would be kicking off quite early this evening.

The headlining act was a French Canadian group called Le Vent du Nord, which they informed us translates into English as Le Vent du Nord. A top quality band. I have to say that I was very impressed with the fiddle player who tapped out the rhythm of every number with both feet while seated and playing his instrument.

Those returning home on Sunday got their tents packed early and then either went for a short walk or attended workshops, meeting up for a bit of lunch and then the drive home. Torrential rain on the M4 and M25 made for a less than pleasant journey but the weekend was thoroughly enjoyed by all and I am sure we will be back next year.


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