Being a couple of old romantics, Valerie and I like to celebrate our wedding anniversary as part of a holiday. This year, we decided to celebrate 31 years of happy marriage on the Gower Peninsula, Wales, UK, as it’s not too far and we hadn’t been before. Location map here. It’s just 102 miles (164km) to the Worm’s Head Hotel in Rhossili, where we stayed.
This series of posts will detail our various walks, with some photographs for your entertainment, and local details for those who’ve never been to this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and those others who’ll never make it.
We left our car parked in the National Trust car park, which serves the hotel, for the whole week, as we decided not to drive while there. So, although the whole Gower Peninsula is an AONB, we travelled only as far as our feet took us. Other visits will no doubt reveal more of the area’s attractions to us as time goes by.
On our first day, a Wednesday in late September, we took the M4 as far as Port Talbot and then the coast road through Swansea and beyond to our destination. Parts of the route, out of the city, takes you along narrow roads where you sometimes need to let oncoming traffic pass restricted parts before going on. The climate lived up to the forecast: sunshine and showers, with the emphasis on the wet. But weather rarely stops us walking or exploring.
Rhossili is a small village with a few eateries, a couple of shops (not for groceries), the hotel, which is also a pub, a church, and some holiday cottages, as well as the National Trust’s visitor centre. The public car park has well-maintained toilets with showers, as there’s a small camping area beside it.
Visitors using the hotel are best advised to park either near the entrance or about halfway along the wall, where an opening gives access to the road across which is the hotel entrance. The charge for parking was £5.00 for each 24 hours.
The Receptionist, Wendy, took our details and then showed us our room. You know how it is on arrival day: you’ve driven/ridden for miles, arrived needing to go to the loo, wanting nothing more than a cup of tea/coffee and a chance to stop moving. And, then, wow! Our initial reaction was of delight. The bedroom window showed Rhossili Bay, looking north, with Rhossili Down to the east and the small island of Burry Holmes clear at the northern end, with the wide River Loughor glinting under fitful sunshine beyond. It was a wonderful view.
Once unpacked, we wandered down to the visitor centre to pay our parking fee for the week. The woman who served us asked if we were members of the National Trust and advised that we could park free if we were. I joined there and then (£72.00 for the year, as a pensioner, meaning the real cost was £37.00; a bargain). She issued us with a ticket to stick in the car and we returned to the hotel for a late lunch in the dining room-cum-bar, where they serve a wide variety of pub meals and some more sophisticated food throughout the day until 21:00. There’s a separate dining room, away from the buzz of the bar, and that’s where we had our evening meals.
Once re-fuelled, we ventured out to explore our surroundings. There are many footpaths in the area, as well as a broad, flat expanse of firm sand running the width of the bay, some 3 miles (5km) from Kitchen Corner to Burry Holmes. The clifftop paths give excellent views of the bay, the Worm’s Head, and the Down.
We wandered away from Worm’s Head on this occasion, as we intended to visit that the following day and this walk was more to get our bearings. A set of wide steps goes to the beach, and a narrow road descends to the lower cliff that fronts the Down. We took that road, which leads to the sands.
The tide was out (it goes out about 550 yards at low water (500m)) and we were able to walk with ease across the surface. A few brave souls were taking surfing lessons among the waves. We strolled for a short while but turned back when we saw heavy rain rushing landward across the sea. No wish to get wet so soon after arriving! In any case, travel tends to tire us these days, so a rest was in order before we went down for our first evening meal.
The food was good, and the wine reasonably priced, so we enjoyed the dining experience, under the helpful attention of Veronica and Julian, especially as many tables give views across the sea, either of the bay or toward Worm’s Head.
More on that spot in the next post.