GOWER Peninsula.......

Before you read some of our walking/general articles and titbits on Gower below, which we have collected for your enjoyment and use,  some useful Gower information can be found on the following weblinks (now read on!):





This is not an exhaustive list and there are other sites worth browsing.


A few strange or interesting things about Gower:

  • Well known faces who live in or have a holiday home in Gower (to name a few) are: Lord George Carey; The composer Karl Jenkins; Wales socces manager John Toshack; Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman and Judith Chalmers from BBC's Wish you were here both have family and friends living locally; a number of  other 'celebs' visit from time to time, and we even had Johnny Vegas come to stay at Middle Cottage (see other page). 
  • For some reason (not sure why!) but Gower folk prefer to refer to their locality as simply "Gower" and not "The Gower" 
  • Basking sharks are fairly regularly spotted off the coast of Gower, sightings being noted at Rhossili ledges, Elephant Head at Pennard, and in Swansea Bay. They are huge but dont worry, they only eat plankton!
  • Seals are spotted at certain places including Worms Head, Fall Bay (near Mewslade), Burry Holms Island, around Pennard Cliffs, and off Pwll Du Bay. Dolphins are sometimes spotted from clifftop vantage points off Gower too including Three cliffs Bay/Pennard Cliffs, from the cliffs overlooking Mewslade/Fall Bay and in Oxwich Bay. Dai Howells saw some in August 2007 off Pennard Cliffs whilst fishing for mackerel.
  • Designated as Britain’s first area of outstanding natural beauty – Gower has some of the most beautiful scenery you are ever likely to see. Just 18 miles long and less than 8 miles wide the area has nearly 400 miles of public rights of way, and 23 nature reserves. Gower offers a great variety of beaches and coves attracting everyone from surfers to the more relaxed dog walkers and sun worshippers.

A trip around Gower (Compiled by Dai and Hev Howells)

This is designed to give you a flavour of the journey if you want to walk Gower's coast. Don't try to do it all in a day!

  • Start by visit the old church and mill ponds at Llanrhidian and see the old celtic cross and whipping stone. This is classic 'Midsommer Murder'  territory. Have a pint in The Dolphin, or (posh) lunch at the Welcome to Town Bistro (former gaol and courthouse). Enjoy a walk from Llanrhidian via woods and marsh to Landimore, passing Weobley Castle on the way. (Return there later to buy salt marsh lamb). The Greyhound Inn at Oldwalls is well worth a visit for a coffee/tea, pub style curry, a steak or mixed grill, or local sea bass, if you dont mind a slight detour on your coastal walk, via Leason, but well before Landimore and Weobley Castle.
  • Samsons Jack is an ancient stone found behind Windmill Farm at Oldwalls/Leason, approx 15 mins walk from Weobley Castle.
  • Samphire Grass grows in abundance at Landimore marsh and Pill and across North Gower (every TV cooking show seems to use it these days - Rick Stein met Roland Pritchard of Weobley Castle and visited these marshes for his programme). By eating this plus a variety of other wild plants and herbs found on the salt marshes is why the Gower Saltmarsh lamb tastes so succullent, tasty and that bit different. Read more and buy some via http://www.gowersaltmarshlamb.co.uk/ If you pick your own be very careful to watch the tide and dont go onto the marches at all if the tide is above 6.5m on a Llanelli / Burry Port tidetable.
  • The village of Llanmadoc, 2 mins drive from Landimore, and 5 mins drive from Llanrhidian, is tucked at the north west extreme tip of Gower, (there is a twin village of Cheriton too), is walking distance to Llanmadoc beach, and can only be described as the quintessentially Welsh Gower village with its local Inn The Britannia Inn (offering A la carte pub food).
  • One of the most gorgeous wooded walks in Gower is found on the dune laden Whiteford sands and peninsula, a unique mix of woodland, pills, acres of quiet sandy beaches and dunes stratching from Cheriton Pill to the east, around the point past Whiteford Lighthouse, and then sweeping westwards for two miles to Broughton Bay and Blue Pool clifftop walks. The beaches at (1) Whiteford/Llanmadoc, and (2) Broughton are really different ends of the same sweeping bay, seperated only by cliff headlands (Cwm Ivy Tor, Hill Tor, & Prissens Tor) only at high tide.
  • This 'dog friendly' beach at Llanmadoc is perfect for collecting driftwood, or a long bracing walk. Llanmadoc Hill above the village itself is the second highest peak in Gower, with an Iron Age fort (a truly unblemished and rare example of concentric circles of ditches and ramparts, with flat village area in the middle) at its summit, great for picnics, and views to die for so bring the digi-camera. Less than a mile apart, the two historic churches of St Cadocs (Cheriton) and St Madocs (Llanmadoc) are well worth a visit, especially for Welsh language service on the first Tuesday of each month. It has been known for the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, to put in an appearance (he has a holiday bungalow in Gower). Not far from Llanmadoc, (5 or 6 mins by car across the down, via Burry Green and Kennextone) is Llangennith village the the Kings Head pub. Walk from Llanmadoc over to Llangennith via Llanmadoc Hill (a 30 - 40 mins walk).
  • The village of Llangennith is half way along the bay and about a mile inland. There is a campsite and caravan park set back from the beach with parking, a café and facilities – a good base if you want to enjoy the beach and popular with surfers. With only a pub and a surf shop the village of Llangennith remains untouched, but the pub fayre is fairly inexpensive with nice views over the bay complimented by a very tasty Gower Special pizza (cockles and bacon). Eddies cafe (Hillend Campsite) does a fantastic cooked English Breakfast for around £3 or £4.
  • Rhossili Bay is a wide beach with miles of golden sand, when even on a busy day it never feels crowded. At one end is Burry Holmes, an outcrop of land, with a tiny chapel. (Beyond the headland at Spaniard Rocks which are the rocks forming a causeway between Burry Holm and terra firma, is Broughton Bay on the way back north east [towards Llanmadoc] which has an abundance of sand dunes. At the south end of Rhossili Bay is Worms Head, [past Rhossili Village] which rears out of the sea with its impressive Blow Hole which you can explore at low tide, and up on the cliff top is the village of Rhossili where there are a few shops and cafes with some amazing views over the bay – watch out for the paragliders.
  • You can walk from Llangennith to Rhossili Village via the three mile long beach, the above fields seaside of Rhossili Down, (past the old Rectory), or indeed over the Rhossili Down itself (the huge hill overlooking Rhossili Bay). This walk can take 40-55 mins and you have to climb the cliffsteps below Rhossili - which itself takes 10-15 mins, but gets you fit!  (If you drive, it will take 20 mins via Burry Green (turn right here), then via Burry, Llandewi, turn right at Scurlage, and then via Pitton Cross/Pitton, and Middleton).
  • If you walk the clifftops from Rhossili Village via the coastguard station you pass a run of bays from Fall Bay, Mewslade, Ramsgrove, the Knave and Paviland  - famous for being the place where Britain's oldest human skeleton (The 'Red Lady' of Paviland) was found in the late 1800s.
  • Walking from Rhossili to Port Eynon would take the average person around 1hr 30 mins or maybe 2 hrs + depending how often you stop. Along the coast [east towards Mumbles direction] you come to Overton Mere and the larger village of Port Eynon a fairly quiet sandy beach which is very accessible and has parking close by (not to mention fish and chips and tea/coffee/pub). In the early 1980's the Prince Ivanhoe steamer ran aground at Horton nr., Port Eynon and 100's of tourist passengers were evacuated. The ship eventually broke up. (indeed one of Dai and Heather best friends, Dai Phillips, was on board at the time!).
  • Rather more sobering but the SS Agnes Jack ran aground on the Port Eynon Salthouse Point rocks in the late 1800s and through the night the fifty or so sailors each perished in front of the watching locals who had gathered to help, powerless to prevent the tragedy, such was the terrible storm. Not one survived and the rocket lines could not quite reach. The grave is found at the local church in Port Eynon. Soon after this, a lifeboat station was established at Horton.
  • Oxwich is the next bay along and probably the busiest of the beaches on Gower with good facilities. The Oxwich Bay Hotel offers bar meals as well as a restaurant and the beach itself has a water sports club where you can learn to sail or surf, wakeboard or take a doughnut ride - and if you don’t feel like driving to Oxwich you could travel by water taxi.
  • In 1990  a fibreoptic cable laying ship laid a rather long fibreoptic cable from United States to the UK, across the Atlantic ocean, arriving in Oxwich Bay, Gower, (and we think it went on to Cambridge University). 
  • During WWII Oxwich Bay dunes were lit to simulate Pembrey 'Munition works' and other sites of military interest around Llanelli thus attracting some heavy Luftwaffe bombing raids, hence the dunes are rather disjointed to this day.
  • At the other end of the Oxwich is first, Nicholastan (good campsite) and then Penmaen Beach, (walk down from S Gower Rd) and then as a continuation of the same sweep, to Pobbles Bay and Three Cliffs Bay (both are probably best accessed via Southgate and down past Pennard golf course) – Three Cliffs being one of the most photographed beauty spots on Gower. Here a river meets the sea, sheep graze on the grassy verges overlooking the beach, wild ponies room freely and the board walk winds it way up to Pennard Castle. There’s a lot to take in just one snapshot.
  • At the centre of the peninsula is the lofty moor land called Cefn Bryn, one of the highest points on Gower, and the burial ground of the legendary King Arthur. From here you can see as far as Devon to the south and the Black Mountains to the North on a clear day.  The village of Reynoldston is just across the green, home to the King Arthur hotel where some of the best pub fayre in the area can be found.  Jeremy Paxman has often been spotted in the King Arthur, sipping Double Dragon, or other fine ales, on occasion.  
  • From Pennard, take the footpath around Pennard Golf Course, drop down onto the board walk and here you will find one of the most spectacular views on Gower; straight ahead are the Norman ruins of Pennard Castle, where sheep graze on the hillside, and ponies room freely in the river valley. In the distance is the well photographed sight of Three Cliffs Bay. The beach is an easy walk away; Pobbles on one side, Three Cliffs on the other, and miles of golden sands stretching all the way along Oxwich Bay.
  • Pennard Golf Club welcomes visitors, as does the Southgate Club. The village has a Post Office, a hairdresser, a general store and a service garage. Follow the main road around and you come to Southgate where the tea room claims to have the best carrot cake in Gower. Park up if you want to take advantage of the cliff path walk that stretches all the way from Three Cliffs to Pwll Du. The clifftop walks are breathtaking and there is a coffee shop at the NT car park at Southgate. (Dai Howells and friends regularly fish Pennard Cliffs, for Bass and Mackerel (float fish with frozen sandeel) but you need to have the stomach to climb down the steep scree to make the ledges overlooking Oxwich). 
  • A short walk away through the woods and inland towards the South Gower Road, is Parkmill where you will find the Gower Heritage Centre with its many attractions for all the family including an 800 year old working water mill, and just a few yards away are 70 acres of peaceful Parc le Breos where you can take a quiet stroll, hire bikes or enjoy a day out on horseback. Also from Pennard you can also walk in the opposite direction, through the lanes to the South Gower Road where the Gower Inn serves excellent pub fayre at Parkmill. The Gower Heritage Centre, with it’s ancient working mill, is another five minutes walk, and is brimming with historic local artefacts, craft shops and a café. Or visit the country hunting lodge of Parc Le Breos, set in 70 acres of parkland, where you can book a whole day of pony trekkin
  • Heading East from Pennard along the coast, you come to Pwll Du Bay in Bishopston, (but only if you are looking for it - best access is via narrow lane, but also can walk down Bishopston Valley from Barland Quarry car park), and then the more accessible Caswell Bay and further along, to Langland Bay a typical Victorian british beach resort. These two bays are possibly the most useable beaches for a family in a car due to proximity to beach from car  park plus public toilets, cafes, lifeguards/flags, etc. They are certainly two of the most well known and beautiful bays in Gower with the usual candy floss and toffy apples, but also in the case of Langland some decent a la carte eating beachside.  It is possible to walk from Langland Bay to Mumbles, via the cliff paths past Limeslade and Bracelet Bays or more directly past Underhill Park and Newton Road or down Queens Drive.
  • Don't even think of visting Gower and not popping over to Mumbles, 20-25 mins by car from Llanmadoc, via Bishopston  - and simply brimming with over a dozen quality restaurants (e.g. Patrick's, Knights, PA's, 698, Castellamare, or any of three namely Chutneys, La Quila or  - at West Cross  - Mumbai Spice for fine Indian cuisine), plus two or three quality fish and chip shops/cafes (Covelli's, in Newton Road; Johnnies tucked behind Covellis in a side street; and Yallops on the seafront); art/craft shops, and bobbing fishing boats and yachts. Take a stroll on Mumbles Pier and Arcade. Take a cup of tea in Treasure, and buy fresh fish from Coakleys fishmonger next to the White Rose Pub (right in the middle of Mumbles).


C.600BC – C.100AD saw the Iron Age supersede the Bronze Age. There are thirty or more Iron Age sites scattered on the isolated Gower Peninsula, the hill fort at Cil Ifor being probably the finest. Two other sites have also been excavated extensively, The Knave at Rhossili and The Bulwark on Llanmadoc Hill. The Knave (between Pitton and Port Eynon) is a coastal promontory fort; two huts have been located there as well as pottery fragments from c.50BC – 50AD. The Bulwark at Llanmadoc is a more complex example of a large defended enclosure. Its prominently sited earthworks consist of well-preserved banks and ditches. The old red sandstone Llanmadoc Hill at 186m is one of the highest points on the Gower. Iron Age people defended themselves by building fortifications. But it would be misleading to think of them as being aggressive because of this, rather their structures were available to shelter a community in times of danger.

Special Feature : Walk Of The Month: The Gower

As published by Mark Rowe, Online edition of the Indepedent 

Date Published: 08/05/2006

Fifty years ago this month, the Gower was named the UK's first area of outstanding natural beauty. Walk along this stretch of the south Wales coast to see why, writes Mark Rowe

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Gower in south Wales as the UK's first area of outstanding natural beauty. And this walk along the north coast of the peninsula shows why it was among the first wave of areas to be so classified.

Flora and fauna are found in abundance; rarities include yellow whitlowgrass, silky wave moth, fen orchids and the Gower money spider, a species new to science when it was found near Rhosili in 1964. There is a huge variety of scenery, and cultural diversity, too. Cefn Bryn, a ridge of old red sandstone, splits the peninsula into broadly "English" and "Welsh" sections. The southern half is Anglicised, in part a legacy of the exports of limestone to North Devon and Somerset. The northern half has a much stronger Welsh flavour - you hear the language there.

The coastline, says Sian Musgrave, head warden for the National Trust on the Gower, has lots of "uppy-downy bits" - and ends in tiny little villages. "Even though a lot of people work in Swansea, all these villages have very strong communities," she says. "It's like living on an island."

Llanmadoc, where this walk begins, is typical: you will find it in the north-west corner of the peninsula. From the car park by the tiny Norman church of St Madoc (Note: The church is 50 yds from Middle Cottage and Wagtails Apartment), turn right downhill to the minuscule village of Cwm Ivy and bear right over a stile by a small Welsh Water outlet to enter Cwm Ivy woods, an ancient deciduous limestone woodland, full of birdsong and wild flowers. The path is shaded but, looking over your shoulder, you will see Cwm Ivy Tor, while ahead stands the rugged outline of North Hill Tor. Ignore a path up to the right and continue ahead, the wood on the right and heathland to the left.

Cross a stile to leave the wood and turn left through a gate to walk across the Groose, the western end of Llanrhidian marsh. The linear, elevated grassy path, striking out from the mainland, creates an ethereal atmosphere which many walkers compare to that of Lindisfarne. You are now entering Whiteford National Nature Reserve; strange pools lie to your right and you may well see white horses and ponies on the tidal flats or among the huge dunes. Where the Groose ends, bear right along the clear track.

You are aiming for Whiteford Point: several tracks lead there, either along the eastern edge of the spit, or through the pine forests. To reach Whiteford Point you can either walk around the beach at the headland or scamper up the dunes.

Out among the waves is the UK's only cast-iron lighthouse surrounded by sea. To your left the sweep of Whiteford Sands awaits. You will have few companions on this magnificent two-mile beach though these may include the occasional naturist.

Keep walking past Cwm Ivy Tor and Hills Tor to reach Prissen's Tor. According to the OS map, you should usually be able to pass around the tor, even at high tide, but, having squeezed between sea and tor an hour after high tide, I am not so sure: best to check tides before you go.

Continue along Broughton Bay, pass the stream that runs on to the beach and, where the higher part of the beach becomes pebbly, climb up over the dunes to pick up a sandy track running parallel to the beach. Look for a grassy track running at right angles that leads to a stile. It is a little fiddly, but clear enough if you look at the map: you need the path that runs though the cluster of houses that make up Delvid. The track goes right past a house, where you bear right through a gate with a yellow waymarker sign and uphill along a track to another gate. Then bear left uphill at a junction of paths, on what becomes a paved road.

The views to the right are wonderful, with Worm's Head, the signature landscape feature of the Gower, in the distance (the word is a corruption of the Old English "wurm", or serpent - at high tide the island looks like a Welsh version of the Loch Ness Monster), the huge expanse of Rhosili Downs a little nearer, and, closer to the sea, the concave dips and folds of Broughton Burrows. The road rises to a modest brow in the hamlet of Cockstreet, where you take the grassy track uphill to the left just by the 20mph sign. Keep climbing for a good half a mile, crossing one junction of paths and forking uphill at a second. Before long you come to a clear bridleway cutting across the path. Follow this, climbing uphill to the left as it winds up to the trig point on Llanmadoc Hill. At 186m it is among the highest points on the Gower and the views in all directions are truly outstanding: you can pretty much map out the walk you have just done.

From here, it is a gentle, brief descent back to Llanmadoc, either dropping down immediately, or extending the delight of this walk by heading along the ridge for the stone remains of the Bulwark.

TIME: Four hours.

DISTANCE: Eight miles. FURTHER INFORMATION: the nearest tourist information office is at The Methodist Church, Mumbles (01792 361302; swansea.gov.uk /aonb) which can provide advice, maps and walking leaflets. Useful websites include enjoygower.com and the website of the National Association for AONBs, aonb.org.uk. For tide times on the Gower, visit geography.swan.ac.uk /surf/tides.php

As published by Mark Rowe, Online edition of the Indepedent 

...and finally here's another great article with walking ideas....

Gower - Outstanding Natural Beauty

Richard Binns writes on the glories of Gower - and for other great articles on special landscapes around the world and areas of outstanding natural beauty

Outstanding Natural Beauty

Gower is glorious; the 14 x five mile peninsula is an exhilarating mix of limestone cliffs, varied seascapes, coves, bays, beaches galore, salt-marshes, tidal mudflats, sandy dunes, wooded valleys, rounded hills and a wildlife haven second to none. Not surprisingly Gower was the first in the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Day One

Start at a spectacular scenic splendour, the heart-stirring panorama from the 250ft-high clifftops at Rhossili. Ideally, visit the village three times: at both high and low tides, the latter essential if you explore Worms Head; and at dusk when the sunset is rated one of the world’s best.

First look north: at the three-mile long sandy arc of Rhossili Bay with line upon line of breakers flooding in with the tide; to the right the green shoulders of the 632ft-high Rhossili Down, its grassy slopes, atop old red sandstone, tumbling down to the beach. Below you is the ruined bow of the Helvetia; its timber cargo was salvaged and sold by the villagers in 1887.

Turn west: snaking away from the mainland is the undulating Worms Head promontory. The bumps resemble a Welsh dragon on guard (wurm: dragon); when viewed from Crabart rocks the worm has a sphinx-like outline.

To explore Worm Head walk south-west for 15 minutes to the Old Coastguard Lookout Visitor Centre (note the 999 coastguard phone, in case of problems). Examine the displays. Then descend to the rocky causeway; as you cross spot the 7ft anchor of The Samuel, a coal ship wrecked in 1902; its cargo was put to good use by the villagers. A vital caveat: the causeway is only passable for two hours on either side of low tide.

Crabart also provides rewarding rock-pool fishing, but only for fit, agile adults. My ‘fisherman’ was Colin Pressdee, who knows Gower inside-out; he caught two lobsters and several crabs during a two-hour spell (one hour on either side of low tide) in pools close to the sea. Some musts: wear suitable footwear; watch the time; don't take children; take a pole and net; don't net crabs which are breeding pairs or less then 5" across their shells.

O.S. map 159 is a must. On the map Gower is a patchwork of red threads, footpaths seemingly everywhere. Some of the most rewarding walks are in the nature reserves on the limestone cliffs between Rhossili and Port-Eynon - but please keep to the paths! One of the best is from Pitton (car park off the B4247) to Mewslade Bay; and those that climb up from the latter to the headlands overlooking the beach. Birds are plentiful; look out for peregrines. (The stone cottage opposite the car park is the home of Mark Button, a young photographer; he has a selection of Gower scenes for sale, tel: +44 (0)1792 390402.

At Port-Eynon note signs of other occupations in times past, rather then fishing and farming: at the Salt House sea salt was extracted by evaporation; old limestone quarries are nearby; and the oyster perches, marked by stones, where Bristol Channel oysters were stored before shipment.

Day Two

Soak up the pleasures of the utterly different north Gower coastline. Access to Whiteford National Nature Reserve is easiest from the car park north of Llanmadoc church. There's a wealth of wildlife on the extensive sands, partly-wooded burrows (mounds) and salt-marshes.

Spare time for two nearby churches. Both are locked; no wonder as thefts from property and vehicles are commonplace (leave nothing of value visible in your car). Llanmadoc's church has a 5th/6th century gravestone, a 7th/9th century boundary stone, a Celtic pillar cross and an altar carved by Revd David Davies (rector from 1860-1911). (Ask at the village shop where to find keyholder Sally.) Cheriton has more Davies carvings and a Norman font (key from cottage opposite church). Both have saddle-back towers.

Enjoy extensive views of the Llanrhidian salt-marsh and Loughor estuary from both Leason and the 14th century ruined Weobley Castle, once a fortified manor house. Drive the unfenced road from Llanrhidian to Crofty, alongside the marsh. The latter is renowned for cockles.

Cockles are just one of many Gower's culinary delicacies: others are laverbread (cooked seaweed; delicious with cockles and oatmeal) sewin (sea trout) mushrooms (ceps and blewits) salt-marsh lamb, gulls' eggs, marsh samphire and shellfish (both hotels make good use ofall of them).

Now to the 609ft high viewpoint on Cefn Bryn, an old red sandstone ridge at Gower's heart. Share the panorama with sheep, skylarks and wild horses; the latter are all over Gower. Finish with a walk to Arthur's Stone, a burial chamber with a 25 ton boulder atop smaller slabs.

Day Three: select from these options, as time allows, before heading for home.

Oxwich Bay is an eye-pleasing treat, overlooked by a 16th-century castle, in reality a Tudor manor house. From the beach car park explore both parts of the National Nature Reserve (ask at the hut for a leaflet). One starts opposite the hut: a rewarding mix of views, beach, dunes, burrows, freshwater and salt marshes, and hillside woods. The other is a woodland walk to Oxwich Point.

Next to the picnic site and observation table at the viewpoint above Penmaen. North Devon is on the horizon; below you are the three triangular crags at Threecliff Bay. Park and walk 1½ miles to the bay, using the stepping stones on the way.

Two further walks await. The first is easy, starting from the Gower Heritage Centre car park (A4118). Head north-west, through deciduous woods, to Park Wood; after one mile you’ll reach the Giant's Grave, a 70ft-long prehistoric burial site. The second walk is much more demanding; take stout shoes. Park opposite Kittle Post Office (B4436). Walk south, left at the cottage, and descend on a steep path. The map shows that for half-a-mile a river disappears underground. Near the bottom, behind a fence on the right, is a deep ‘daw-pit’, where the stream below caused the ground to collapse. Follow the old river rock bed for 200 yards downstream; you'll hear the ‘guzzle’, a cave to the right where the hidden river roars away.

Finish with a drive past picturesque Caswell and Langland bays to Mumbles, beside the impressively scenic Swansea Bay. Until 1914 Mumbles was an oyster fishing village. Make Vincent's your last port of call - a tapas and wine bar much loved by locals. Vincent Moreno, a Spaniard, has Wales flowing through his veins; he makes great use of Gower and Welsh produce. Open 3-11 p.m. Tel +44 (0)1792 368308.



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