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UK escapes: what to do in Wales's Gower Peninsula

With dramatic landscapes, historic forts and fine local fare, the Gower Peninsula is Wales at its rural, rugged best.

Published 30 Nov 2019, 06:00 GMT
The Gower Peninsula is home to some of Europe’s most majestic stretches of coast.
The Gower Peninsula is home to some of Europe’s most majestic stretches of coast.
Photograph by Getty

Jutting out westward from the southern Welsh coast, the Gower Peninsula covers a mere 70sq miles, yet is home to some of Europe’s most majestic stretches of coast. Bays like the spectacular Three Cliffs and the alluring Rhossili draw surfers, bathers, hikers and campers from far and wide. Back in 1956, the Gower was designated the UK’s very first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s hard to imagine it’s any less stunning today than it was then.

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What to do

This is one of the country’s best spots for coastal walking. While it’s possible to traverse the entire shoreline as part of the Wales Coast Path, hiking the full 43 miles of the Gower Coast Path from Mumbles to Penclawdd, the less ambitious can break this down into an almost infinite number of smaller walks, where cliff paths, hidden coves, shipwrecks and seabirds are among the many highlights. The three-mile path connecting Langland Bay and its neighbour Caswell Bay is a great option for those wanting a gentle introduction. 

Where to eat

Sat on the horseshoe-shaped bay of the same name, the Oxwich Bay Hotel offers a scenic spot to fuel up. Take a pew in the main restaurant (with sea views) or a table in the rustic Chestnut Room, and enjoy local specials such as mussels, Welsh lamb and Welsh cake trifle.

Cliff paths, hidden coves, shipwrecks and seabirds are among the many highlights walking the coast of the Gower.
Photograph by Alamy

Where to stay

The glorious King Arthur Hotel does a great job of channelling the Gower experience, whether through local ales, its surrounding pastureland or its excellent restaurant, where the local laverbread paired with cockles, cheese and bacon is a must-try. Guests can choose between en suite rooms or the self-catering cottages within its courtyard. The hotel is also a short walk from Arthur’s Stone — a 5,000-year-old Neolithic burial tomb located at the top of Cefn Bryn, the second-highest point in the Gower. Rooms from £85, B&B.

We like

Surfing. While Llangennith Bay is the poster boy for surfing in the Gower, Rhossili is more sheltered, offering great waves for beginners, including children — the Gower Activity Centre’s instructors will have you riding the waves in no time. Afterwards, get better acquainted with the bay’s tiny marine inhabitants on a seashore safari, take in the wooden skeleton of the wrecked ship Helvetia, then retire to the cliffside Bay Bistro for a well-deserved treat.

Don't miss

Mumbles, the pretty seaside town with a Victorian pier, 225-year-old lighthouse and 12th-century Oystermouth Castle, spruced up with the addition of a 30ft-high glass bridge that offers breathtaking views out to sea.

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Published in the December 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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