The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Paviland Cave

Cave / Rock Shelter


Visited 18.4.14

Being such an iconic site, Paviland Cave is a place I have been desperate to visit for a number of years. My ‘close but no cigar’ visit of last year had only made me even more determined to finally gain access to the cave.

The opportunity for a re-visit was both unexpected and very welcome.

It was a beautiful spring day but I had been earmarked for painting duties! Sophie was out for the day and before long Karen could see I had itchy-feet and was less than happy at the thought of being stuck inside on such a lovely day. Karen then asked if there was anywhere I fancied going for the afternoon? I checked the tide times and found that low tide on the Gower was approximately 3pm. Now was my chance.

Karen knew about my previous failed visit and also knew how much I wanted to visit the cave. By 12.30 we had all piled into the car (Owen came with us in Sophie’s absence) and we were soon on our way – I was so excited!

I was a bit concerned about the traffic we would hit on a sunny bank holiday and sure enough the first bottle-neck was at (the less than delightful) Port Talbot. Once through that we again ground to a halt in Swansea. Clearly we weren’t the only people intending to visit the Swansea area today. The shop car parks we passed were full to over flowing – haven’t people got better things to do on a beautiful bank holiday than go shopping? It seems not.

I kept checking my watch and remembered how I had misjudged the tide last time. But what can you do when stuck in a traffic jam? After what seemed like an age we got through Swansea and onto the quieter roads of the Gower itself. To be fair to Karen she drove a quickly as she could (within speed limits of course) and we eventually arrived at Pilton Green.

Myself and Owen jumped out of the car (Dafydd wanted to come with us but I didn’t think it would be safe for him - given the sharp rocks I knew we had to cross) so Karen and Dafydd drove on to the car park / café / shop in Rhossili.

We jogged through the fields and down towards the rocky gorge. With great relief I saw that the tide was still out – hurrah!

We slowly and carefully made our way across the sharp rocks down onto the flatter part of the beach. I looked back to realise that the last time I visited and sat on the rocks (and was tempted to try to wade out to the cave) the depth of water would have been way over my head – so I am glad I didn’t try it!
We walked around to the right and there it was, up in the cliff face – Paviland Cave!

From the beach the cave didn’t look as big as I was expecting and we wasted no time in clambering up the rocks to get to the cave entrance. Outside the cave the sun shone in a dark blue cloudless sky and it felt like summer. Inside the cave it was much cooler which was welcomed after our jog and clamber.

I went straight to the back of the cave to take in the famous view of the teardrop shaped cave entrance looking out onto the (for today anyway) clam blue sea. I looked all around the cave and was appalled to see that someone had scoured the words ‘Myke and Christie’ onto the cave wall – I hope they are very proud of themselves? :(

I then tried to climb up to the high 'upper chamber' on the right. I was in two minds about attempting this as the cave wall is vertical and I didn’t want to fall and injure myself in here! However, there were very tempting natural hand-holes so I went for it! I managed to get up to the edge of the cave but I couldn’t find a final place to hold to get up into it. I did however get high enough to see that the cave sloped upwards to the left and that there was light coming in from the end of the cave – another entrance perhaps?

I then spotted the sanded over section towards the front of the main cave, presumably where the skeleton was found? The sand covered a Hessian sheet which I assume is to protect an archaeological dig?

We sat and pondered and I was explaining to Owen the importance of this cave and why I wanted to visit it so much. I also explained how the view out of the cave would have been very different to what we saw today! He found this fascinating – as did I.

At this point another family arrived, two adults and a boy of about 11. We said ‘hello’ and I had a quick chat to the lady. It was clear that she was the main reason they were visiting today! Myself and Owen went outside to explore the many rock pools and sea anemones and to leave the family have their turn alone in the cave.

The tide began to turn and we all made our way back up the rocks to the safety of the gorge. It wasn’t long before flat part of the beach became submerged and the cave once again cut off. I felt both elated and relived to have completed my ‘pilgrimage’.

We walked back up to the road (about 1 mile) and I ‘phoned Karen to pick us up.
One problem – there was no signal in Rhossili.
Only one thing for it – a 4 mile walk along narrow country lanes, in the blazing sun, to Rhossili. To say that Owen was unimpressed would be putting it mildly!

It goes without saying that this is a ‘must see’ site for all those able to do so.

A few tips when planning your visit to Paviland:

1. Despite my initial reservations it appears to be ok to park alongside the farm track opposite the public footpath sign in Pilton Green. There were several cars parked there and as long as it isn’t too muddy you should be ok.

2. The walk from the road to the cave is easy, through a couple of fields / kissing gates. However, once you get to the gorge the rocks are very sharp and quite difficult to cross safely. It is only suitable for those who are mobile and fairly agile. The rocks from the beach to the cave present the same problems.

3. There is no ‘phone signal in the area around the cave and I would advise you take someone with you. I would dread to think of the consequences if you had a fall and injured yourself / knocked yourself out when the tide turned.

4. It is obviously vital you check the tide times and make sure you don’t get cut off.
Posted by CARL
22nd April 2014ce

Comments (3)

Well done Carl, second time's the charm. You're more intrepid than me about the upper cave. Interesting about the sheet though, I didn't see that and I don't recall Gladman mentioning it either. Some new work being done? You did check to make sure there wasn't a body under it? :) thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
22nd April 2014ce
Cheers TSC.
I did try to pull the edge of it up to have a peek underneath but the weight of the sand on top made it too heavy!
This is a place I will definitely return to one day.
Perhaps when Dafydd is a little older and able to safely come with me?
Posted by CARL
23rd April 2014ce
If at first you don't succeed......

Love the enthusiasm, Carl.
24th April 2014ce
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