Dylan Thomas - Mumbles and Gower Trail
Plaque for Vernon Watkins
Pennard is included on this trail as the home of the poet of Gower and perhaps Dylan’s closest literary friend – Vernon Watkins.
Vernon’s family originally lived in Redcliffe, a fine house overlooking Caswell Beach but then moved to Heatherslade in Pennard, just along to the right from the car park. It is now a care home. It was here that Dylan visited and joined Vernon on short cliff walks and long games of croquet on the lawns. When Vernon married he came to live further along the coastal path to the right in a quaint wooden bungalow ‘The Garth’. The gate into the garden is still there, but the house has been rebuilt. Vernon lived there with his wife Gwen and their five children for the rest of his life. By day he worked as a bank clerk in Swansea, and by night (and by day) he thought about and composed poems.
The closeness of their friendship and the manner in which they influenced each other is clear from the letters that Dylan sent to Vernon. The originals are in the British Library but Vernon published them in 1965 with a very apposite commentary.
Vernon himself published many volumes of poetry.
He was admired by T S Eliot and published by Faber. When he retired he began to teach and lecture. He died suddenly playing tennis in Seattle in 1967, where he had gone to take up a lectureship at the University of Washington.
17 The Garth
Vernon loved the cliffs and beaches of Gower and set into the cliff-face above Hunt’s Cove, about half a mile along the cliff path – to the left this time – is a commemmorative plaque, and another memorial is in nearby Pennard Church, which you will pass on your way to our final destination.
Travel back along the Pennard road for about two miles to a crossroads where you will see a concrete shelter on your right and the rather hidden Pennard Church on your left, take the left turn – Vennaway Lane. This takes you to a ‘T’ junction with the A4118, the South Gower Road. Turn left and head out towards the tip of the Gower, through the villages of Parkmill, Penmaen, Nicholaston and Knelston. After about nine miles you will go through the village of Scurlage. Turn next right onto the B4247 and follow the signs for our final destination – Rhossili.
'We were going to camp for a fortnight in Rhossili..........'