My latest trip to discover the beauty of the United Kingdom was to take some time exploring South Wales. Through these three stunning walks in the Gower Peninsula, I sampled a few award winners. Here, I give you both the best beach in the world & the best view in Britain. What better way to fall in love with this spectacular part of the world than to explore these wonders along the Wales Coast Path? I hope I inspire you to do the same.”
Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, Wales
But something drew me to Wales & my original plan was to spend a few days on the Gower Peninsula, followed by Pembrokeshire & finishing in the Brecon Beacons. After my recent trip to the Peak District in England, I was fired up to spend most of my time walking & had heard amazing things about the Wales Coast Path.
I can report that it did not disappoint! Unfortunately, I can’t comment or compare the Brecon Beacons as my trip there was rudely interrupted by injury. But I can tell you all about the Wales Coast Path, & how I fell in love with the Gower Peninsula over the course of 3 days & 3 walks.
What is the Wales Coast Path?
In 2012, they finally linked up the full 870 miles of walking trails around the coast of Wales & you can now walk the full length of this stunning coastline.
To tackle all of it could take you a couple of months but during my time I chose to walk several ½ day hikes around the Gower Peninsula & Pembrokeshire sections. They say that the walks in the Gower are among the most beautiful.”
The Gower Peninsula is a 15-mile thumb of land which lies on the doorstep of Swansea in Wales. Back in 1956, they designated it an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was the first area of the UK to receive the accolade. It’s easy to see why once you experience its miles of beautiful beaches, backed by cliffs & sand dunes. It is home to the best surfing in Wales outside of Pembrokeshire. In contrast are the upland areas of moorland, peppered with sheep & wild ponies. The National Trust owns ¾ of the coastline & you can walk its entire length along the Wales Coast Path.
I chose to use my time here to do exactly that. In these 3 walks in the Gower, I fell in love with my new version of Wales, beyond the jugs, satanic pictures & sandcastles in the rain!”
3 Amazing Walks in the Gower Peninsula – Discovering South Wales
1. Rhossili Bay
For the first of my Gower Peninsula walks, I headed to what is claimed to be the best beach in the UK & some say the world, Rhossili Bay. Rhossili sits at the very end of the Gower Peninsula & offers 3 miles of golden sand, facing the very bottom of Ireland.
It is one of Britain’s best & most popular surfing beaches. In addition, at one end lie the ghostly ribs of an old Norwegian barque wrecked in a storm in 1887.”
At the southern extremity of the beach is picturesque Worm’s Head. In high tide, it becomes an island but at low tide, time it right & you can walk to the end. It takes its name from the old English word “WURM”, meaning dragon as it looks like a snaking Loch Ness monster in profile. Seals bask on the rocks & the cliffs are popular with razorbills, guillemots & puffins during nesting season.
Parking is easy, especially arriving early as there is a National Trust car park. If you are a member you can park for free, if not it’s £3 for 2 hours & £6 for more. Believe me that you will probably need more than 2 hours! If you are interested in becoming a National Trust member then check out all the details HERE. There is also a public toilet at the car park which I would advise you to take advantage of before setting off.
Rhossili Beach Walk
Distance: 6.5 miles (10.5km)
Time: 2 ½ – 3 hours
The hike is straightforward, thankfully. If you have read my track record of getting lost on walks you will know why this is a relief! See the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador & Mam Tor in the Peak District for all the evidence you need. But this one is well marked with the starting point just beside the church in the village.
From there it’s the main climb of the route, uphill through the ferns, heather & moorland until you get to the top of the hill. Here are excellent views down onto the beach, along with picturesque Worms Head & if the tide is out, the skeletal remains of the wreck will appear beneath you.
Then the trail leads you along the flat moorland to enjoy the views as you go. You may be lucky to find some Neolithic remains scattered across the area or even some wild Welsh ponies. Stay safely close to the edge of the cliff to make sure you are also on the path to see the ruins of a World War II radar station.
Rhossili Beach is a great place to learn to surf & once you hit the sand dunes you will see plenty of lessons on offer. Enjoy the walk from here along the flat, huge expanse of pristine 3 miles of beach all the way back.
Before you tackle the final climb up to the car park, you will reach the remains of atmospheric Helvetia, a Norwegian barque shipwrecked here during a storm in the 1880’s.”
Worms Head Walk (either extend or do this part separately)
Distance: 3 miles (5km)
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (rocks may be slippery)
It is possible to walk along to the end, but essential that you get your timings right. It is only achievable to take the walk 2 ½ hours on either side of low tide. There is a board with the details you need outside the Old Coastguard Lookout before you start. Do not get stuck! The waters are unforgiving & there are many horror stories of walkers who didn’t make it back.
I chose to take the walk around the top of the peninsula past Worms Head & then headed back to the car park through the fields known as The Vile.
They may not look like much, but this is an ancient landscape, treasured for its cultural significance. They have laid out the patchwork of fields to mirror the strip farming system used in medieval times. It’s one of the biggest habitat creation projects in Wales.”
After a good walk, I chose the Worms Head Pub & Hotel for some lunch. The food & service weren’t the best I’ve ever had, but the views from the terrace are unbeatable.
The next day walking in the Gower, brought me to the gorgeous Three Cliffs Bay hike. It is called Three Cliffs Bay after the signature triplet of limestone cliffs jutting out from the water. It has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain, made even more special when you are viewing it from the ruins of 13th century Pennard Castle. From the castle, you can also see the picturesque stream of Pennard Pill which empties into the sea below.
Once again, there is a National Trust car park, handily located at the top of the cliffs in the village of Southgate. Parking here again is free to members, but non-members pay £2.50 for two hours or £5 for more.
Three Cliffs Bay Walk
Distance: 3 miles (5km)
Time: 2 hours
Starting from the car park, take the path right, along the top of the cliffs until you hit the sand dunes. There the Three Cliffs emerge in to view & you start to understand why this has been voted one of the best views in Britain. Take your time to explore the dunes, walk out across the peaks & make the most of the spectacular vista in front of you. The full force of the wind may meet you as it bowls in off the Atlantic so be prepared to brace for impact!
Next step is to dip down through the sand & down into the valley. I chose to head back up towards Pennard Castle instead of out to walk along the beach. Bear in mind that walking on the sand dunes can be hard work.”
Arriving at Pennard Castle the view is jaw-dropping. Beneath you are the gorgeous sandy beach, to the left the famous Three Cliffs & the right offers gorgeous Pennard Pill stream. All of these while standing in the ruins of a 13th-century castle. It’s certainly a unique outlook.
You can choose to head along the beach, retrace your steps through the sand dunes or follow my path over the golf course. Pennard Golf Course is just behind the castle & be warned, while I was exploring the remains, a ball came straight through, past me & out through one of the windows! As you cross the golf course there are bells that you need to ring to alert the golfers to your presence.
Once out of the course, it’s an easy walk back through the village to the car park. Congratulate yourself with a drink or lunch at The Lookout Three Cliffs.
3. Langland Bay to Caswell Bay & The Mumbles
My final walk in the Gower was along the Wales Coast Path from Langland Bay to Caswell Bay, back over the cliff & then off in the other direction to The Mumbles. This one is a little different as the path here is concrete all the way along the coast, so a more defined route. As a result, it is easier & the perfect choice if you are looking for an easy stroll past beautiful bays.
The Mumbles sits at the south end of Swansea Bay & the gateway to the Gower Peninsula. In 1807 they opened the first passenger railway service in the world to transport Swansea residents out for a seaside retreat. The train is no longer in operation.
The area made its name when famous daughter Catherine Zeta-Jones built a £2 million home in Limeslade but I didn’t manage to spot it on my walkthrough!”
I paid £6 at Langland Bay car park for the full day as unfortunately, there was no National Trust car park for this one.
Langland Bay to Caswell Bay
Distance: 2.6 miles (4km) return
Time: 1 hour
The walk is less than 2 km so takes about half an hour along a well-paved pathway right along the coast. It’s an easy & very pleasant walk. From Caswell, you could choose to carry on for another half a kilometre to the secluded bay at Barley Cove. There are two routes. At low tide, you can walk along the beach, but when the tide is up, you need to take the road. Quiet Caswell is a beautiful family-friendly beach patrolled by lifeguards & another good place to learn to surf.
When I returned, I took the cliff path which is well signposted close to Caswell Beach. The path here is a bit more ambiguous & at points very overgrown. At the top of the cliff is a golf course with magnificent views out to sea.
I would avoid it if it has been wet as the route is muddier, rockier & could easily be slippery underfoot.”
When you return to Langland Bay I would recommend a stop at Langlands Brasserie to refresh before the next leg to The Mumbles.
Distance: 1.9 miles (3km) one way
Time: 40 minutes
Back out from Langland Bay in the opposite direction is a similar easy paved path along the coastline through more residential parts. It gets increasingly picturesque as you approach The Mumbles. The theory is that the unusual name came from French sailors who saw the two mounds emerging from the water. They nicknamed the area “les mamelles”, meaning “the breasts”. In Wales, this then led to adopting the name The Mumbles.
When you see the two mounds and the Lighthouse, it means you’re very close to the pier. If I’m honest, the pier itself has clearly seen better days. It was built in 1898 & currently undergoing renovations. At the end is an impressive new facility for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). Beyond the pier is a mile-long promenade of painted houses, pubs & restaurants. Take your pick if you need refreshments but there was a long queue at Verdi’s.
While you’re there, don’t leave The Mumbles without a stop for ice cream at local institution Joe’s Ice Cream Parlour.”
Where to stay on the Gower Peninsula
For my time in the Gower Peninsula, I stayed centrally at Hills Court B&B in Reynoldstone. For The Mumbles, try Tides Reach Guest House or Patricks with Rooms. Alternatively, check the search box below.
Finally, to eat, I recommend 2 excellent pubs for food while you are exploring the Gower Peninsula walks. I enjoyed King Arthur Hotel in Reynoldstone so much, I ate there twice during my stay. Make sure you book as this is a very popular spot. In addition, I would also recommend the Britannia Inn, LLanmadoc for excellent food.
I hope you can see why taking these three walks in the Gower are a fantastic addition to any Welsh itinerary & that you fall in love with the area like I did. There is certainly a lot more that this beautiful country has to offer than scary artwork, dusty jugs & sandcastles in the rain!
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