Did you know, back in 1956, UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was Gower Peninsula?
Gower is a protected landscape. Expect breathtaking beaches from The Mumbles to Rhossili along with spectacular coastal paths. Gower’s beaches range from small secluded ones to family-friendly ones. The Gower Coast Path is part of the Wales Coast Path network, which circumnavigates Wales.
Here are some of the places we covered in our 3 day trip to Swansea Bay.
The Peninsula begins at The Mumbles. It is a popular destination and idyllic too. The village has something for everyone from boutique shops to quirky independents to great cafes to a Victorian Pier. Follow the coastal walk that takes you all the way to the lighthouse and back. The tide normally starts coming in at noon so you need to start your walks early. You can either walk on the pathways or on the pebbly beach.
- Visit Mumbles Pier: The pier is home to Mumbles RNLI station. Currently, there is the old one and the new RNLI station which is very interesting. Walk to the end of the pier for great views of the bay. There is also an Arcade at the Mumbles Pier where you can try your luck at many games. They have a cafe there too so you can stay dry.
- Oystermouth Castle: The castle dates back to 1140 and sits on a hilltop. This is where you can get breathtaking views of Swansea Bay. The chapel that was built in the castle is beautiful. You can have a tour around it in one hour and it is worth it. Clive was our tour guide and we learnt so much. It was only around 10 years ago, the castle got funding to become an attraction to visit from the inside. Prior to that, it was unused. A great asset to the village. It is believed that King Edward I stayed there in 1287. Entry is very reasonable and booking a tour is as little as £1.50.
- Mumbles has a lot to offer in terms of shopping. They have a great selection of independents. Check out the Love Spoon Gallery, the Gower Gallery, the boutique shops or even the charity shops. Love spoons were given as a token of love and affection and each one has a different story. They are good decorative pieces of art and can symbolise different things. They range from £4 to £800.
- If you are staying in self serviced accommodation, check out the local delis, fish mongers and butchers. The local businesses use them too.
- If all you want to do is take in views of the bay, there are several eateries around. There are also some rooftops where you can sip on gin and cocktails whilst watching the world go by. Gin & Juice is one we went to. It is almost like a secret garden with a covered rooftop. I was amazed at the number of gins they had and the ambiance was just brilliant. I tried their honeycomb mojito and it hit the spot.
- Mumbles is known for fine ice cream and one of the spots you can find this is at Verdi’s. The family-owned Italian restaurant is on the seafront and has a glass frontage. We enjoyed some penne arrabbiata and authentic pork sausage soup. We could not miss a sweet treat. Kev had their Cookie Crunch sundae and I enjoyed their Rustica cake which was a tiramisu cake. The service was excellent and the meal was enjoyable. I can imagine it gets very busy in the summer. The restaurant was full and it was October.
Accommodation at The Mumbles
There is a range of accommodation in the bay however as the destination is popular with tourists, everywhere gets booked up quickly, especially in peak season. We stayed at The Oyster House Mumbles. Newly opened contemporary boutique hotel. Located on the seafront on Oyster Wharf, you cannot go wrong. The boutique hotel has 16 rooms which makes it a more personal and enjoyable experience. The staff know their guests and are there to ensure they have a great time.
There are 8 Seaview rooms and 8 facing the back and start at £90. We stayed at No 8 and I highly recommend it. The room had a balcony too and was a perfect spot to read a book or enjoy a coffee while watching the sunrise. The room had all the normal amenities with sustainability in mind. Coffee pods for the machine were recyclable, there were bigger bottles of body wash and shampoo and there was regulated heating too. We had a beautiful night’s sleep too.
The Oyster House offers all-day dining and we enjoyed a lovely dinner there along with breakfast. They have a bar and rooftop too and it is a perfect spot to catch your breath whilst walking down the seafront. They source their ingredients locally.
I enjoyed mussels with a white wine and parsley cream for starters and a chicken supreme for mains which was wrapped in Serrano Ham and filled with Taleggio and sun-blushed tomato and basil. The flavours were delicious, especially with the carrot purée and vegetables. Kev had duck croquettes which were crispy on the outside and served with pickled enoki mushrooms and truffle mayonnaise for starters. For mains, he enjoyed pan-fried Chalk Stream Trout on a bed of curried mussels, leeks and some new potatoes. For dessert, we shared a chocolate and salted caramel tart served with caramel sauce. It sure was luxurious and had the perfect texture.
Breakfast at the Oyster House was great. There was a selection of items on the menu to choose from. On the first morning, we had granola which was a very generous portion. Granola topped with yoghurt, berry compote and seeds. The crunch was perfect and the compote added a bit of sweetness to the breakfast. The next day I had smashed avocado on toast with chopped cherry tomatoes and dukkah and Kev had eggs florentine with a great hollandaise sauce and perfectly poached eggs.
Rhosili Bay is located on the southwest tip of Gower with golden sand across the beach with grassy banks. It is often voted as one of the UK’s best beaches. Park at the National Trust Car park that overlooks the beach then get ready to explore via the rugged Coastal walks. The Times nominated Rhossili as ‘The UK’s No.1 dog-friendly beach.
The National Trust has a shop and light bites and hot drinks are available from there too. The staff are really helpful and have information on the tide times and what the best routes for the time you have there are. Pop in there before you set off for information.
We did the walk to Worms Head. Named after Wurm Wurm’ is old Norse for ‘dragon’ – as the promontory was said to resemble a sleeping ‘wurm’. It has a prominent shape too. We were not lucky enough to spot seals but you can at times.
If you have more time at the bay you can go for longer walks, some of which are challenging. The more you walk the more you are wowed. To get further into the sea, early morning walks are the best.
Visit Gower Gin Company to have a tasting session of the (booking required). Gower Gin Company, an award-winning Welsh gin distillery, is owned and run by Siân and Andrew Brooks. Their ethos is great, their business plan is well thought out and as a result, they are a growing brand. They started out in their bike shed which you can still see. Oh, and as for their Gin – it’s fabulous. Kev tried their rum too and enjoyed that. They are branching out to vodka and constantly thinking of ways to make their brand better. Sustainability governs all the decisions they make and they are constantly reviewing their processes, including moving to recycled bottles and eco pouches.
They won Sustainable Business of the year in the Food and Drinks Awards Wales 2022. They forage in Pory Eynon and get most of their botanicals including gorse and pine from there. My favourite was the GŴYR Pinwydd and the Rhamata, oh and the sloe gin. You just have to try them to realise what quality gin should be.
Enjoy lunch, coffee and cake or sundown dinner at The Lookout. They have homemade cakes, comforting jacket potatoes, stone-backed pizzas and a lot more on offer. It is all about local produce and the relaxing atmosphere. If the weather is on your side, you can sit outside too and enjoy views of the bay. We enjoyed a deluxe hot chocolate, pumpkin spiced latte, cheese and beans jacket potato and a stone-baked pizza. Fair to say we put all the calories we walked off earlier back on but it was worth it.
Walking around the Swansea Marina is always nice. There are cafes and restaurants dotted around and on a sunny day the vibe is brilliant. You can explore Wales’ oldest and newest museums which are 5 minutes walk apart.
The Swansea Museum has historic artefacts including dinosaurs bones and mummies. The National Waterfront Museum is where you can explore the interactive and high-tech approach to Wales’ history including how the coal industry was. It is a nice spot to get an aerial view of the marina too.
Enjoy Waterfront dinner at El Pescador. El Pescador uses locally sourced and sustainable produce. Expect a fusion of authentic Spanish delicacies.
They specialise in seafood and it is delicious. They also have the best type of garlic bread – I have never had it like that in any restaurant.. confit garlic and chilli served with bread for you to spread on and enjoy.
I enjoyed a giant prawn with Thermidor sauce for starters and swordfish for mains. The waiter recommended this to me and it was amazing. I have never had swordfish- every mouthful did just melt away.
Kev enjoyed scallops with chorizo for starters and a fillet steak with prawns (Surf and Turf ) for the main. The scallops came in a tomato-based sauce and they were cooked perfectly. The steak was medium rare as requested and was of good quality. To finish off an excellent meal we shared churros which were served with chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream.
Enjoy lunch or a drink at The Green Room, in Swansea’s new COPR Bay area. The Green Room serves breakfast, brunch and lunch during the day, and transforms into a pre-gig venue by night Their menus are curated by their talented chefs, all dishes are prepared fresh daily and all produce is sourced locally.
Sustainability is at the heart of their ethos, and they aim to reduce their carbon footprint. I enjoyed a tasty Rarebit on toast with Gower Gold rarebit, grilled streaky bacon & chilli jam on toasted sourdough, washed down with a good cappuccino. Kev had a deluxe hot chocolate with a homemade buttermilk stack of pancakes which came with crispy bacon and maple syrup. The pancakes were moist and it sure was a perfect lunch.
Three Cliff Bay
A popular spot on the peninsula and known for its iconic three limestone peaks and beautiful sunsets.
Park at Southgate National Trust Car Park facing the bay. I would recommend having your toilet break before taking the coastal walk because I did not see any facilities en route. Turn right and keep walking on the Pennard Cliff coastal path towards Pobbles Bay.
We got there a bit later in the day when the tide had come in. I would try and visit earlier to walk a bit further out to get closer to the three limestone cliffs and enjoy the sandy beach.
Rotherslade & Langland Bay
A 20-minute walk from The Mumbles and you get to waters where you can have a dip in the water or surf. They both often meet the European Blue Flag award for quality and the Seaside Awards.
I was amazed some people did not have wetsuits when in the water. Definitely must be the Welsh blood.
Walk from one bay to another and enjoy the sounds of the sea along with taking in the views of the beach. There are a lot of beach huts, all the same colour, in both bays which add to the character.
The Langland Bay has more facilities compared to Rotherslade which is smaller and has one ice cream shop.
Penllergare Valley Victoria Woodland Walks
There is a lot of untouched beauty and hidden spots around Swansea bay. On our way home we stopped for a walk in Penllergare Valley. 250 acres of ancient woodlands with lakes, waterfalls and exotic trees. Getting all that fresh air in the woodland walks definitely is a great way to destress and connect with nature. There are several trails you can follow in the 7 miles of footpaths. There is a community-run coffee shop on site too. Parking for the whole day is £2 in the main car park by the cafe. SA4 9GS
As a foodie, I can confirm The Gower Peninsula has an epic food scene. Great independents use locally sourced ingredients to create the finest of dishes at competitive prices. Some may have heard it was a popular celebrity destination ( Catherine Zeta-Jones owns a house in Mumbles). As a whole it was nice to see so many independents thriving and how there is a sense of community. There is something for everyone to do. From taking a gentle stroll down the bays to an intense surf class to a day shopping, drinking and eating.
For more information Visit Swansea Bay website on where to stay, explore, eat and more.
Disclaimer [AD]: My brunches were free at these locations, however, all opinions and photos are my own.