This is a spectacular scenic walk of panoramic views, Second World War history, a massive beach and a shipwreck!
Having said goodbye to our Pembrokeshire holiday friends earlier in the day Chris and I drove from Saundersfoot to Rhossili Bay at the far end of the Gower Peninsular where we parked in the huge National Trust car park. As it was such a hot Saturday the car park was very busy and even though we arrived at lunchtime there was still plenty of space as we were able to park in an overflow field car park. We paid £6 for the full day by card.
We had planned to walk the ‘Rhossili loop’ which is about 5 miles and takes you up and over the undulating Downs (as shown on the right of the above photo), through sand dunes then back along the beach. In temperatures of 25 degrees we began with an ice cream from one of a handful of little shops which also sell drinks and sandwiches if you need them.
Using the OS maps app on my phone we located the start of the walk which was a short distance from the car park. The full details of the route can be found on the National Trust website.
This part of the walk is fairly steep although the terrain through the rugged shrubs isn’t difficult… not during the dry summer months.
Before long, panoramic views of the enormous beach of Rhossili Bay open up. In the above photo you can see Worm Head jutting out to sea. Worm Head is the most westerly point of the Gower Peninsula and you can walk across to it in low tide which it was when we took this picture.
At 193 meters the Beacon is the highest point on Gower. As mentioned in the National Trust site this is also the site of a Bronze-Age cairn built around four thousand years ago.
From the Beacon you can see the Bristol Channel on both sides and almost all of the Gower Peninsular stretching right up to the Beacon Beacons in the far distance. We were fortunate to have such a clear day.
The path had levelled out as we walked through the heather and shrubs across the Down. There was no shade and on this day there was no breeze either so it was hot as we walked along. Thankfully we had plenty of water with us.
About half way along we came to the remains of a Second World War radar station. A plaque at the site explains this was part of a chain of defence stations which covered the Bristol Channel. This one became operational in 1942 and was there to protect Swansea from German bomber planes.
We reached the final peak which overlooked the radar station before starting to descend.
This path was grassy and a fairly easy (although steeper in a couple of places) descent down towards sea level.
We saw a couple of choughs which landed in front of us; choughs can only be found in the west of the UK.
When reaching the campsite at the bottom of the Downs you need to ensure you take the correct path! We went wrong here and walked in the direction of the sea along the coast path. We had hoped we may find a route from there directly down to the beach but after half a mile or so we realised this wasn’t the case and had to back-track towards the campsite again!
When you reach the campsite you have to walk straight into it! This was handy as the campsite has a cafe so you are able to purchase drinks and snacks if you need them. We followed the footpath signs through the campsite and came to sand dunes which lead straight onto the beach.
At 3 miles long and especially when the tide is out Rhossili beach is vast! Even directly next to the large campsite, there was plenty of space for everyone.
We were both hot after walking for about 3 – 4 miles in the heat and there was no shade on the beach. We put our stuff down on the sand, not too far from the edge of the sea and had a drink and a snack. We both had a short dip in the sea to cool off and from here we could see the contours of the Downs we had just walked across.
Even though we didn’t spend long in the sea we had to move our stuff a couple of times as the tide rapidly started to come in. We then started to walk back along the beach towards Rhossili village. This was easy as we walked along the edge of the sea in the firm sand!
As we got closer towards the end of the beach we came across the remains of the Helvetia shipwreck, a Norwegian oak barge which came to her fate in 1888 after becoming caught in bad weather and hitting a sandbank.
By now it was 6:15 pm and from the shipwreck we walked across to start the climb back up the cliffs towards the car park.
We had a drink in the bar at the Worms Head Hotel where we were able to sit outside and look out towards the beach and Worms Head.
Following our pit stop, in the early evening we began to walk along the jagged cliffs of peninsular towards Worms Head.
By now the tide was in which cut off the causeway to Worms Head and turned it into an island. It is possible to walk right across to Worms Head but only within 2.5 hours each side of low tide.
We were hoping to see a sunset but were probably slightly too early and we still had to drive to our hotel in Swansea! We were fortunate to see some fairly dramatic skies surrounding Worms Head before heading back to the car park.
Including the Rhossili Bay walk and the extension towards Worms Head and back we did about 7 miles of walking today.
It took about 40 minutes to drive from Rhossili to Swansea where we had booked a night in Morgans Hotel, a historic boutique hotel in the heart of Swansea.
Having arrived late, following a quick shower we had dinner across the road in Wagamamas before finishing the final night of our Wales trip with a cocktail in the luxurious bar of the Morgans hotel.
Before heading home, on the Sunday morning in the beginning of an extreme UK heatwave we walked the short distance to have a look at Swansea Marina. This was our first trip to Swansea and we wanted to see what was beyond the hotel! This picturesque marina is lined with pubs, restaurants and a museum. Our first impressions of Swansea were positive 🙂