The Gower Peninsula is a rural, rugged landscape that helps shape the South Coast of Wales. It was unsurprisingly the first designated area in Britain to be given an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) status. This scenic stretch of coastline is a rich haven for a great variety of birds and wildlife, and is home of many historic ruins, which are scattered across its vast and ever-changing landscape.
The Gower is a popular spot for walking enthusiasts and tourists alike; with many scenic paths available, it is the coastal equivalent to the Lake District further north. Depending on your level of experience, some mountainous areas can prove quite challenging, so perhaps rambling through a few of the quaint rural villages may be an alternative preference for some.
Llanmadoc Hill is the second highest point in the Gower, standing at 186 meters. The summit can be reached from several directions, depending on time and tide. Overlooking the small village of Cwm Ivy and the nature reserve, the walk to the top is gradual and winding, but steeper options are available by choice at certain points. Rhossili Down is visible from the other side of the hill, with panoramic views to the surrounding bays, hills and valleys, making the climb well worth the effort.
Cefn Bryn is a good place to start with few steep inclines, and it’s where I began my own Gower journey. It takes you along the cliffs and over exposed moorland before a descent back to country roads of level gravel terrain. Note: from personal experience, I would recommend that caution should be taken along parts of the route due to high winds. This word of advice applies to any highly exposed terrain, but particularly if you’re walking near cliff areas or those with considerable drops. The highlight of this route is surely the heightened view overlooking Three Cliffs Bay.
Rhossili (and Mewslade Bay) is a recommended route around the coast and is considered one of the top ten coastal paths in the UK. A circular route that covers a lot of cliff-top terrain, it offers terrific views of Fall and Mewslade Bay, which at high-tide are completely cut off. Nearby Worm’s Head is one of the highlights of this route, consisting of three outstretched headlands. However, due to tidal elements you are advised to notify the coastguard before setting off. This path takes you through an array of fields and farmland, crossing through several villages that settle amongst the surrounding hills. A personal highlight is the picturesque view over Rhossili Bay after the steep incline to the trig point.
If you’re not so eager to trek into the hills, nearby Swansea Bay offers a grand promenade walk, and is home to the world’s first passenger railway. Stroll the length of the promenade, offering wide views over the Bay towards the lighthouse at Mumbles Head – here it is essential to try some award winning Welsh-Italian Ice-Cream from Verdi’s Ice-Cream Parlour, or why not take a walk along the pier while you’re around?
No matter what your fitness level or what sort of area you’re looking to explore, it’s pretty safe to say that the Gower offers quite an array of wonders for both the perennial and experimental walker. Regardless of experience and weather, the timeless beauty of The Gower Peninsula will always remain a favourite for those who have visited.