I’d never heard of the Gower Coast before, despite it being named as Britain’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With long sandy beaches, hidden coves and dragon-shaped islands, it was one of our first walks where we weren’t ‘roughing’ it. No knee buckling 10kg rucksacks, no wet tents and no digging for loo breaks. Maybe reaching 30 created the desire for more creature comforts in life. Or maybe I’m just soft after lockdown.
Day 1 – Swansea 4th July 2021
It was approximately a 200 mile drive from London to Swansea, stopping off at Dyrham Park along the way, we arrived in Swansea and checked into the IBIS Swansea situated just outside the city centre. Our plan was to carry as little as possible throughout the trek, we carried no more than an A4 sized backpack each with a change of clothes, pyjamas and snacks.
We meandered into the town centre for dinner, stopping off at the delicious Turkish Kitchen. Described as a ‘10 mezze’ set menu, Alex and I were presented with a feast of melt-in-the-mouth halloumi, a mountain of smooth and nutty hummus, baked crunchy falafels, aromatic Turkish sausages and calamari. The salad was beautifully tossed with seasoning and a light drizzle of oil that no longer made eating salad taste like eating salad. It was texture and taste heaven for under £10 each and one of the best Turkish meals I’ve had in a long time.
Day 2 – Llanrhidian to Rhossili Bay Beach 5th July 2021 12.8 miles / 1,347ft
We ventured down to the breakfast area of the IBIS which was very quiet during our visit. Breakfast was served to us almost immediately with a portion size that would polish off most grown-adult men.
The female staff member serving us brought over brown bags where my immediate thought was ‘gosh I bet everyone takes the food with them as it’s too much’. Instead, upon peeping in the brown bags, we were presented with juice, organic milk, fruit, yoghurt, cheese and pastries. I was dumbstruck but happy! For £54 per night, IBIS have effectively fed us breakfast and lunch. We left the 500ml cartons of milk untouched on the table, with the hope that they don’t just ‘throw it away’ if it’s unused.
It was a 30 minute walk into town where we boarded the bus at Swansea Town Centre to take us over to the Peninsula. The last stop was at Llanrhidian by an un-assuming petrol station. With a little help from Google, we traced the trail and navigated marshlands, farms and hidden river inlets. I was taken aback by how quiet the trails were, Alex and I bumped into very few walkers on the way.
We found the first section of the walk to be incredibly varied, we trekked passed dunes, forests, along cliff tops and we finished the walk down a 3 mile stretch of Rhosslli Beach. We strolled through the Whiteford Sands and its Nature Reserve, home to rare species of butterfly and wildflowers in the early summer. At the end of the walk, we saw the Helvetia shipwreck on the beach. It is almost completely submerged in heavy sand with the rotting timbers rising out of the beach like ribs. One last climb brought us out immediately in front of our hotel for the evening, the Worm’s Head Hotel.
Day 3 – Rhossili Bay Beach to Oxwich Bay 6th July 2021 11.22 miles / 977ft
Worms Head (Penrhyn Gwyr) is a tidal island just off the coast at Rhossili and it is often referred to as the “Land’s End” of Wales. With a bright blue sky, the views out to the rocky drama of Worm’s Head were outstanding. Even with the beautiful weather, we still encountered very few people on our days trek for the 2nd day.
Passing through Port Eynon approximately half way through, the skies opened and quickly changed from cobalt blue to tar-black. We counted our lucky stars as we had reached the first bit of ‘civilisation’ since leaving the hotel. Ordering a couple of hot drinks, we waited for the storm to pass before continuing our walk.
The sudden rainfall brought out just how muddy Welsh trails can get. After a few navigational errors near Horton Farm, we were led to a trail that was so overgrown that any bare inch of skin was left scratched or nettled. The trick is to keep your arms in front of your face, walk slowly and you’ll clear it! I think we deviated off the path here and crawling through bushes wouldn’t normally be a feature of the Gower Coast Walk.
We strolled into Oxwich and checked into our hotel for the evening, Oxwich Bay Hotel. Instead of opting for a traditional hotel room, we reserved a garden en-suite pod which was warm, cosy and inviting.
Day 4 – Oxwich Bay – The Mumbles 7th July 2021 11.91 miles / 1,817ft
The final stretch from Oxwich Bay to Mumbles started with a beach stroll. It was a stunning walk and as we strolled passed ancient, cragged rockpools and walked through Pennard, passing its ruined castle and along the high cliff tops to Bishopstone Pill.
Getting lost on golf courses seem to be a speciality of mine following a recent experience on the Cotswold Way walk. Whilst ascertaining the best way to go, a lady with grey hair and carrying just a water bottle walked up to us to ask where the trail was. We told her we were a little lost too, and we just went by the reasoning of ‘following the coastline’ to get to The Mumbles. We walked together for a few minutes only for Alex to suddenly realise that he knew who she was! Having attended the Walking in Madeira trip with Exodus, she was in the same group that Alex was back in 2016! I say it once and I’ll say it again, it is a small world to bump into an individual you know in a little corner of Wales.
We wanted to make the most of the beautiful and secluded beaches and decided to stop for an hour or so on Pwll Du Beach.
The last stretch of the walk passed around the exposed headland above Caswell Bay. It looked like the trail was recently renovated as the path all the way from Caswell Bay to Mumbles was on a pleasant surfaced path with rugged coastal scenery throughout.
We ended the walk in Mumbles and checked into our Air BnB for the evening – our favourite accommodation throughout the whole trip! We were in an attic room with 360 degree window views of the coastline. We were greeted warmly by Pauline and her golden retriever Barney, with a surprise bowl of cool strawberries and orange juice in a mini fridge in our room. Fresh fruit and a punchy juice after a long walk is the feeling of heaven!
Day 5 – The Mumbles Day 8th July 2021
We spent the day exploring the cosy but cosmopolitan seaside town of Mumbles, which was full of local character and charm. The town was voted as one of the Best Places to Live in the UK in 2018, The Sunday Times listed Mumbles as the best in Wales. I particularly enjoyed exploring the Western side of Mumbles where we found the Pier, RNLI, the famous lighthouse and two small rocky coves of Bracelet and Limeslade. We chatted to a local volunteer of the RNLI who proudly showed his photo together with Joanna Lumley taken just a few days ago. In the afternoon, I queued at the famous Gower Seafood Hut to sample their popcorn cockles and tiger prawns, all served from a rustic shack! We rounded up our evening with an early dinner at Pierre Bistro. The next morning, we walked from The Mumbles back along Swansea bay and we were reunited with our car back at the IBIS Swansea Hotel where we first started.
- We found navigation quite straight forward throughout the walk, I would recommend having a data-enabled phone to bring up maps where required.
- I would describe the walk as accessible to beginners/moderate. The ascents and descents are manageable, the terrain is good for walking and the mileage is between 10 to 13 miles a day.
- I arranged the walk and the hotels with an average nightly cost of £67 per night (£33.50 per person). We stayed at some very beautiful locations and with a bit of planning it shows that UK Travel doesn’t always break the bank.
- You are very welcome to copy my walk plans on this link here.
- I thought early July was a wonderful time to go, the trails were really quiet and the UK weather is as good as it can be
- We brought our swimming things with us, but there were so many large, washed up jellyfish I got a bit scared of going for a dip!
- If you have any questions, you are very welcome to comment here and I will be happy to help