We were going to camp for a fortnight in Rhossili, in a field above the sweeping five-mile beach. Sidney and Dan had stayed there last year, coming back brown and swearing, full of stories of campers’ dances round the fire at midnight, and elderly girls from the training college who sun-bathed naked on ledges of rocks surrounded by laughing boys, and singing in bed that lasted until dawn. (Extraordinary Little Cough)
Dylan demonstrates his intimate knowledge of the area in a letter to Pamela Hansford Johnson in December 1933.
Gower is a very beautiful peninsular, some miles from this blowsy town, and so far the Tea-Shop philistines have not spoilt the more beautiful of its bays. I often go down in the mornings to the furthest point of Gower – the village of Rhossilli – and stay there until evening. The bay is the wildest, bleakest, and barrenest I know – four or five miles of yellow coldness going away into the distance of the sea. And The Worm… a seaworm of rock pointing into the channel… is the very promontory of depression. Nothing live on it but gulls and rats – the millionth generation of the winged and tailed families that screamed in the air and ran through the grass when the first sea thudded on the Rhossilli beach. There is one table of rock on the Worm’s back that is covered with long yellow grass, and, walking on it, one feels like something out of the Tales of Mystery and Imagination, treading, for a terrible eternity, on the long hairs of rats. Going over that grass is one of the strangest experiences; it gives under one’s feet; it makes little sucking noises, and smells – and this, to me, is the most grisly smell in the world – like the fur of rabbits after rain. When the tide comes in, the reef of needle rocks that leads to the base of The Worm, is covered under the water. I was trapped on The Worm once: I had gone on it early in the afternoon with a book and a bag of food and, going to the very, very end, had slept in the sun with the gulls crying like mad over me. And when I woke, the sun was going down… I ran over the rocks, over the abominable grass, and onto that ridge overlooking the little reef. The tide had come in. I stayed on that Worm from dusk till midnight, sitting on the top grass, frightened to go further in because of the rats and because of the things I am ashamed to be frightened of. Then the tips of the reef began to poke out of the water, and, perilously, I climbed along them onto the shore, with an eighteen mile walk in front of me. It was a dark, entirely silent, entirely empty road: I saw everything on that walk – from snails, lizards, glow-worms and hares to diaphanous young ladies in white who vanished as I approached them…
In 1953 when it seemed that Dylan might have to leave the Boathouse at Laugharne, he considered moving his family to a remote rectory at Rhossili. The move was ultimately unnecessary when their future at the Boathouse was resolved.
Following D.J’s retirement in 1937 Dylan’s parents left Cwmdonkin Drive and moved to the Gower village of Bishopston. Here they lived at 133 Bishopston Road in a semi-detached house known as ‘Marston’. Dylan and his family stayed here for periods during 1939, 1940 and 1941, before his parents relocated again when the German bombing of nearby Swansea encouraged a move to Blaen-cwm in rural Carmarthenshire. Dylan used the nearby Joiners Arms as his local during his stays in Bishopston.
cooped up here, in little boiling rooms, quite broke (Letter to John Davenport)
Dylan’s close friend Vernon Watkins lived in the Gower village of Pennard for much of his life. Dylan was a regular visitor to the Watkins’ family home, ‘Heatherslade’, where the two friends would discuss poetry and explore the cliffs and beaches. Later after marrying his wife Gwen, they moved into another house in the village,’The Garth’.