Gower Peninsula: A Welsh Coast Walking Itinerary

16 March 2022

The Gower Peninsula in the southwest of Wales is often overlooked in favour of Snowdonia National Park, the North Wales coast and Pembrokeshire. Yet, this pocket of land just west of Swansea was the first place in the UK to be christened as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Outstanding it is, with limestone cliffs, salt marsh, castles, and nature reserves. It’s certainly beautiful, too, if the wintering water birds, wild orchids, sunflowers, are anything to go by.

This four to five-day walking itinerary centres on the Gower coastal path, a 39-mile stretch between Mumbles and Crofty. So, pick and choose from the route or sling your tent on your back and camp your way around. Dry weather is preferred, especially since there are steep slopes and salt marsh on your passage.

What to expect on your Gower journey? Perhaps catching swells, rock climbing, swimming, or dining on local specialties such as cockles, laverbread, and freshly hooked seafood in coastal saloons.

Day 1: Mumbles to Three Cliffs Bay

Technically speaking, not all of cosy Mumbles falls in the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, fuel for the road (or the coastal path, in this case) is essential. Joe’s ice cream, a Welsh household name in café form, will provide plenty of petrol.

The coastal path crosses past the peaceful Mumbles beach, Mumbles Hill Local Nature Reserve, a Victorian pier, and onto Bracelet Bay’s rock pools. Past Limeslade Bay is Rams Tor, where rock climbers can access Gower’s first sports crag and a route aptly named the Funky Wave.

If you’re not well-versed in the art of scaling crags just yet, Langland Bay is 20 minutes’ walk further. Arm yourself with a board from the surf school and line up with the surf brigade out back. There are cafés onshore to refuel before you complete the remaining two to three hours’ walk to Three Cliffs Bay.

Day 2: Three Cliffs Bay to Culver Hole

If there is any ideal place for a picnic and photographs on your walking itinerary, Three Cliffs Bay is it. Three limestone cliffs come together to form a tall arch, golden sand, salt marsh and rock pools, backed by a river valley.

The tide is in charge here. Duck under the cliff archway and skip over the river using the stepping stones to peaceful Pobbles Beach, but don’t get caught out. At high tide, the gateway back is submerged again.

You may want to climb the limestone crags if you’re experienced. If not, settle with scaling the sand dunes, then climbing to Pennard Castle on the highland.

There’s a Neolithic burial chamber in the valley and Cathole Cave, occupied in the prehistoric times.

Further inland, a detour will take you to the Gower Heritage Centre, a 12th-century working mill and functioning blacksmiths where visitors on foot get 50% off.  Just be sure to leave two to three hours’ walk for the stretch to Culver Hole, which passes by Oxwich Bay and Oxwich Castle.

Day 3: Culver Hole to Rhossili Bay/Broughton Bay

It takes some light rock scrambling to reach Culver Hole at Culver Cove. It may surprise you to find a 60-foot stone wall and Scheduled Ancient Monument.

With at least thirty tiers of nesting boxes used by medieval pigeons, medieval folk would have frequented the location for meat and eggs.

In the 18th century, smugglers brought their cargo to the shore here too. Many hid inside the salt mine passages at Culver Hole, which you can follow for 10 minutes to Port Eynon. The remaining hike to Rhossili Bay takes three to four hours, so the village pub’s sea fare may come in handy.

Day 4: Rhossili Bay/Broughton Bay to Crofty

With clifftop sunflower fields primed for picking in the summer and cliffs carpeted with gorse and meadow, Rhossili Bay is multi-faceted. The headland, accessed by a collapsed sea cave named Devil’s Bridge, is frequented by razorbills and puffins (and daring adventurers, like yourself).

A steep path leads to the bay itself, where confident surfers might want to tackle the swell.  If you time your visit right, pick your way over the causeway at Worm’s Head to rummage through rockpools and spot passing birds and seals if you’re lucky.

Broughton Bay’s Blue Pool, a natural swimming hole carved out of rock, waits at the other end of the bay. As you make your way from there to your final destination in Crofty, expect a three to four hour’s walk, and Whiteford’s dunes, pines, cast-iron lighthouse and diverse birdlife en route.

Endings may be bittersweet, but in Crofty, you get to choose how bitter or how sweet your potion will be at the Gower Brewery. There are many eateries, inns, and cafés to settle your appetite before you bid goodbye to the Gower.