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Bamburgh

Coastal Walking...

Reaching out into the Bristol Channel from the south Welsh coast is the 70 square mile peninsula of Gower. It is a haven containing an almost unbelievable diversity of habitats and landscapes, from the cliffs of the south to woodlands and tracts of open moor.

It is easily accessible from Swansea and although it is more famous among surfers for its endless beaches, there are plenty of opportunities for those heading out for a walk, especially if you’re looking for a paddle in the sea at lunch.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast 2012

The whole of the Gower coastline is open to walkers and has paths running the full length. The southern edge is well known for its sea cliffs and caves, most notably Paviland cave, where some of the oldest ceremonially-buried human remains in Wales have been found, dating back over 30,000 years. On the high points along this southern edge, several fort remains and burial chambers can be seen; the easily defensible location and the lush countryside providing an attractive living for as long as humans have been around this part of the world.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast 2012

Outside the beautiful Oxwich Bay on the south coast, the west coast hosts the longest beaches, and you could walk for hours along the spectacular Rhossili Bay and Whiteford Sands, or gaze out at the giant tangled rocky mass of the Worm’s Head, the most westerly point of the peninsula and compared by the Vikings to the head of a massive sea serpent. You can even walk the length of the Worm’s Head, but your timings have to be accurate, as during high tide the causeway floods and it becomes an island.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast

The northern edge of Gower is a vast area of marsh, followed by tidal mud and sand flats on either side of the River Loughor. The unnervingly flat Llanrhidian Marsh gives way in the west to the dune system and nature reserve of Whiteford Burrows, and to the east it runs all the way to Gowerton and the mainland.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast

The Gower Peninsula was the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designated in the UK, back in the 50s, in recognition of it’s unique beauty. It also contains several nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific interest, meaning that there is truly nowhere quite like Gower in the UK, and that it’ll be protected for generations to come both for it’s scenery and its wildlife. As well as natural beauty, the ancient sites that dot the coast and interior are complemented by Roman ruins, and six castles.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast

As well as the famous coastal path, there is also a long distance footpath, The Gower Way, which runs through the centre of the peninsula, allowing you to explore the land beyond the sea cliffs. There are also several hills, mostly topping out at around 180 metres, giving great views over the rest of Gower, out to sea and back towards the rest of Wales.

Guided Walking weekend exploring the gower coast

The Gower Peninsula may not have the high peaks that many walkers come to Wales to see, but its rugged coastline and near-perfect beaches are some of the best in Britain. The excellent network of public rights of way means that the hills and interior are also easy to explore, and the inquisitive will always be rewarded by visits to the dune systems, salt marshes and woodlands that all lie within easy reach of each other.

Author: Alex Kendall

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