A walk through time, beauty, and fascination, we take a journey along Gower Coastal Path
Gower Coastal Path is a 38 mile long portion of the Wales Coast Path - the first pathway to wraparound an entire country - stretching from Mumbles to Crofty, with the bustling Swansea seaside in the middle. It is home to a National Park, some awe-inspiring views, surprisingly lush woodland, and a number of award winning beaches. If you’re a committed walker and want to take on the whole path, you’ll need at least two days. It will come as no surprise that 33% of the Gower Peninsula area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest or part of a National Nature Reserve.
For history lovers, when it comes to spotting historical archeological sites - of which there are over 1200, including 73 sites of national importance and 124 listed buildings - you will be spoilt for choice whichever path you choose to take.
You can travel back in time to whatever period you are particularly interested in, as highlights include prehistoric standing stones, megalithic burial tombs, Iron Age forts, medieval castles and an open field system, and 19th century parks, along with caves and churches galore. But our favourite has to be the Whiteford Point Lighthouse! Built in 1865, it is one of just two cast-iron, wave-washed lighthouses still standing in the entire world. All of this contributes to the area’s much deserved inclusion in the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales, and for those interested in changing land use and occupation over time, the area will take you from the prehistoric to the industrial ages.
The Welsh coastal paths you see today have been developed and are maintained by Natural Resources Wales, in partnership with coastal local authorities and the Welsh Government.
Due to the dramatic and diverse scenery, Gower is home to varied habitats, and consequently some of the richest wildlife in both the country, and in the UK. Most notably, it houses populations of birds and marine mammals of international importance, as
well as swathes of wild flowers, all of which are cared for and conserved by the Wildlife Trust Wales. To the north are saltmarshes and dunes, and the Burry Inlet is overflowing with wildfowl and waders from autumn to spring, including shelducks and dunlins, leading to the area being protected as a Ramsar site of international importance. Whilst there is a lot here for bird-watchers, personally we’re a big fan of the ponies on Gower Commons! They live in herds and have run free and grazed here for hundreds of years, though word has it they make some of the best riding ponies in the world.
If you’re a walker, you couldn’t pick a better holiday destination than the Gower Peninsula.
If you want to walk the coastal path, you can either take a few days to take in the whole thing, or choose from a range of popular shorter walks.
These are our favourite three:
1. Llanmadoc to Rhossili Bay - a little under 7 miles, this walk spans the western edge of Gower, past Broughton Bay, taking in Llanmadoc Church, Burry Holmes Island and ending at the stunning Rhossili Bay, which has been voted the number one place to visit in the Gower Peninsula. In low tides, the causeway is uncovered and you can walk a little further on to Worm’s Head, where you will be rewarded with impressive views of the bay.
2. Rhossili to Port Eynon - the best choice for wildlife lovers, this rugged and wild 7.5 mile walk will take you hrough National Trust heartland, with changing and dramatic scenery, and a host of wildlife to spot. The walk ends at Port Eynon, which in 2011 was voted the best beach in Britain.
3. Mumbles to Swansea - just under 6 miles, this walk takes you from a quaint village to a bustling city,which you enter via the famous Swansea promenade. In Mumbles, do check out the lifeboat station, you’ll be amazed at all the hard work done by the RNLI. You can choose to end your walk on foot or, if your feet can’t take it, by rail, hopping onto the Land Rider passenger train - the world’s very first passenger railway!
Gower is unique in that its complex geology and evidence of past ice-ages have produced a dramatically varied landscape over a relatively small area. In total, the coastal path lays claim to 32 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 24 Wildlife Trust reserves, 10 nature reserves and 5 Special Areas of Conservation. Overall, the Gower Peninsula was the UK’s very first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so as for the ‘best spots’, they really are all around you! Also fascinating is its mythic and magical allure; the area has a rich history in folklore, and is considered by many to be a sacred place - the best place to drink up the atmosphere, swap ghost stories and fairy tales at twilight, has to be the Three Cliffs.
This is an area of such contrast; the coastal path encompasses busy seaside resorts, remote beaches, wild moors and marshes, dramatic scenery and areas of idyllic tranquillity, so there really is something for everyone. No one could fail to be struck by and in awe of the outstanding natural beauty this area has to offer, and the fresh sea air will do you the world of good, whether you are a city dweller or a committed country bumpkin!
Whichever path you choose to traverse, remember to take waterproofs and wellies, in case you encounter any of our famous Welsh rain!