A couple of weekends ago, Vicky and I took a trip up to the Gower Peninsula, a short drive from Swansea City Centre, located in Swansea Bay. We had heard that it was a little like Cornwall, with its limestone cliffs and beautiful, sandy beaches and we were absolutely blown away by how gorgeous this part of the country really is. Set in the South of Wales, this is an area of natural beauty, which begins at the cute seaside town, Mumbles and extends westwards. With a top 3 beach in the UK on Trip Advisor and some of the best ice cream I have ever had, this place is well worth seeing for yourselves. I have a good friend who lives in the Mumbles and was able to give advice about where to go and what to do but we also used the awesome Visit Swansea Bay website to plan our trip.
The Kings Head Inn, Llangennith, was our accommodation for both nights. This traditional 17th Century pub, with its beams exposed, has so much charm and a lovely, warm atmosphere. It is situated in the quaint village of Llangennith, just 5 miles from Llangenith beach, right opposite the largest church on the Gower.
Our room was actually located in a separate building, across from the main pub. On arrival, we were greeted by the friendly staff and checked into our room. It was wonderfully spacious inside, both in the bedroom and the bathroom, with a large double bed, TV and the usual facilities. The room just has this calm, light and cosy feel to it – we had a really great night’s sleep.
On our first night, we dined in the pub. The World Cup was on so the bar area was pretty busy with a good atmosphere and there was a good choice of local ales on tap (most made in the Gower Brewery). We had a table reserved in the restaurant, which was also quite busy, ordering a starter of whitebait to share. For mains, Vicky had the chilli con carne and I had the King’s Head gourmet stack burger. All of the food was fresh and tasted great.
There was a fantastic choice of food for breakfast as well- fruits, yoghurts, pastries, toast, cereals, croissants, unlimited teas and coffees, plus a hot breakfast choice too. As we were in Wales, we both opted for the Welsh Breakfast. This included the traditionally Welsh ‘laverbread’ – seaweed (laver) is boiled for several hours, then minced or pureed. It was strange having seaweed in a fry-up, however, it really complimented the bacon and fried bread too. The second morning, we chose the avocado and poached eggs on toast which again was served fresh and was really good.
Mumbles Coastal Walk
For our first full day, we decided to drive to the seaside, fishing ‘village’ of Mumbles (it is a very large village) on the western edge of Swansea Bay. To get our bearings and to get to know the place a little more, we began the day with a walk along the water’s edge on the Western side of Mumbles, then along the Welsh coastal path to Langland Bay; a sandy beach, very popular with tourists. The views from this path were awesome. Although busy, the village seemed much quieter than anywhere in Cornwall, considering it was such a warm and sunny day.
After our 45 minute circular walk, we headed back to the main area of Mumbles, and to the Oystermouth Castle. This 14th Century majestic building stands on a hill, with the most amazing views of Swansea Bay. Although in ruins, it is definitely worth checking out. We had good fun tackling the medieval maze of staircases, hidden doorways and vaults. There were lots of information boards about it too, so we really got a sense of the history of the castle. I didn’t really expect that much from this castle to be honest, however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.
Mumbles has some amazing galleries, displaying and even selling work by local artists. Our favourites had to be the Lovespoon Gallery and the Gower Gallery. The former was filled with a large selection of some beautifully hand carved, Welsh love spoons, each representing something different, such as home, wedding and christening. The gallery continues the local custom of giving love spoons as a token of affection, which started in the 16th Century. The Gower Gallery was a lovely place to visit too. They clearly love Welsh Art and images of Gower and Mumbles, and features a large selection of work by Welsh artists. Not only are there paintings, but there is a good collection of sculptures, pottery and cards too.
We had booked a 12:30pm Kyaking session with 360 Beach and Watersports, so popped back in the car and drove towards Swansea. Located just 1 mile from the City Centre, the beach side café and watersports centre is a hub for sport and activity. We managed to find free parking about 250 metres away, in the Recreation ground across the road. For lunch, we popped in the 360 Café Bar. Aside from coffees, soft drinks and alcohol, they had a really good selection of food on the menu from burgers to sandwiches and salads, plus some locally sourced ice cream. It was really nice to chill inside for lunch before embarking on our kayaking experience. The place had a cool, beach vibe with friendly staff whose service was really good.
After donning our wetsuits, Vicky and I headed next door to get kitted out for the kayaking – the staff at the centre were really ‘hot’ on the health and safety of everyone. It was a good couple of hours with a small group of people, led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. After going through the basics of kayaking such as technique, we headed out on to the water. It was such a glorious day, the sea was super flat and the beach not too busy. The 360 Beach and Watersports offer a variety of activities such as volleyball, stand up paddle boarding and Nordic walking and are perfect for beginners in these types of activities. The instruction is clear and fun, and although both Vicky and I have lots of experience on the types of water sports they run, it was still nice to be out on the water kayaking and actually be very confident doing it.
Food and Drink
That afternoon, England were playing against Sweden and we definitely couldn’t miss such a momentous occasion, especially as this was a chance for England to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. There are a good variety of pubs in Mumbles, and we finally chose a very local pub called the Park Inn, where our friend, who lives and studies in Mumbles, works.
This hidden gem is absolutely awesome. They don’t sell food as they focus on selling the most amazing selection of ales, including some of my favourites from Rebel Brewery. With its broad range of patrons and traditional pub décor, it was a great place to watch the football, even the Welsh were joining in with the support for England! The atmosphere was brilliant all afternoon.
Once the football had finished (Sweden 0- 2 England!!!!) we walked back down to the main street, ending up at Verdi’s where we had a dinner reservation. I really love this restaurant. It is situated right by the sea and as it was such a warm evening, we sat outside in the sunshine. As this is known for its authentic Italian cuisine – the menu boasts 11 different pizzas and 7 pasta dishes – it was difficult to choose what to have. In the end, we both decided on pizzas; Vicky went for a Quattro Stagioni (meat feast) and I chose Marinara (seafood). Although it was busy, our food came out quickly. Both were really good and the perfect size for dinner too.
In Mumbles, Verdi’s is famous for its traditional ice cream (they have a parlour at the side of the restaurant too), so we just had to try some. I was overwhelmed by the ice cream choices on the menu – Up to 30 different flavours. On recommendation by the friendly owner, I had a Hazelnut Basket and Vicky had the Toffee Crunch. I cannot tell you how good the ice cream was, but I really think it was some of the best ice cream I have had in a very long time!
Once we had finished, we headed out for a stroll in the evening sunshine, to the Mumbles Pier. Opened in 1898, this Victorian structure is a prominent feature along the Mumbles promenade. At one end is an amusement arcade, cafes and shops, and at the other end, the new RNLI Lifeboat house. The pier is currently being renovated, so we couldn’t walk along the full length of the pier. We did, however, enjoy the amusements in the arcade. With a variety of fun games, such as 2p and 10p machines, mini horse racing and gambling machines, it was a great way to spend some of the evening.
The next morning, we left the Kings Head Inn and drove 5 minutes towards Blue Pool Bay. You cannot reach this beach by car, so once parked at a nearby caravan park, we walked around the coastal path to find it. The views across the estuary are spectacular. As it isn’t the easiest to get to, especially at high tide, this is one of the quieter beaches in the Gower.
After walking down the steep, sandy path, the beach came in to view. It is stunning – crystal clear water and a white sandy beach. We scrambled over the rocks and down towards the most amazing rock pool. This is Blue Pool itself- an immense rock pool which legend says is bottomless. There were already a small group of people stood around the edge of the pool, taking turns to jump in. It looked epic, so we headed down to it, to have a go ourselves.
There were a variety of different height ledges to jump from, some very close to the water, giving those who were not so brave the chance to join in too. The beach itself is gorgeous and I went for a swim all the way along the beach. The surrounding cliff arches of Three Chimneys really add to the drama and beauty of this bay. As the morning went on, more and more locals arrived to check out the pool, so we made our way back up to the top of the cliff, along the path and hopped in the car.
Award Winning beach
There are no quick driving routes along the cliff, so after driving in-land, we headed back to the coast to our final destination of our trip- Rhossili Beach. This beach has been awarded the UK’s 3rd best beach on Trip Advisor, however, it was surprisingly quiet. It is truly gorgeous with spectacular views, dramatic cliff tops, excellent surf, clear waters and a golden sandy beach.
Before visiting the beach, we stopped for lunch at the Worm’s Head Hotel and although really hot and sunny, we managed to get a table on the balcony, overlooking the beach and coastline. The food was really tasty. Vicky had the fish and chips (well recommended by the staff) and I chose a burger.
Sat there on our last day, looking out at such a lovely view, made me realise just how gorgeous Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula really is. Once lunch was done, and we had been down to the beach, we went for a stroll towards Worm’s Head. It was named by Viking invaders due to the prominent rocks that look like a serpent. The rocky causeway, which leads out to the ‘Worm’, is only exposed for two and a half hours before and after low tide. Sadly, on our visit, the tide was in, so we could only stand and look from the cliff top at the Worm.
Overall, Swansea Bay has really impressed me. Not only does it have some amazing coastline, comparable to Cornwall, but the countryside we drove through during the trip is just beautiful. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Everyone we met was so friendly and helpful and there is so much to do in the area, we will definitely be back again as I feel we have only just scratched the surface. We had such a fantastic time there and we cannot wait to visit again!