A weekend hiking on the Gower Peninsula

Tucked away on the south coast of Wales lies a land of golden beaches, winding coastal paths and shady forests. Having just signed up for a trek to Nepal in November, I decided it was time to venture out of the South East and explore new hiking territory in the Gower Peninsula – one of the most remote and un-spoilt corners of the UK.

Close up of hikers on Oxwich Beach, Gower Peninsula

Hiking across Oxwich beach in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Setting off from work at 2.00pm on a clammy Friday afternoon, we arrived in Port Eynon, a record eight hours later.  In the same time, we could have flown to Dallas. (Book a fully day off work if you’re planning to escape the Great Metropolis on a Friday.)

Port Eynon to Rhossilli Beach walk

Our accommodation for the weekend was the Borfa House hostel, located in the pretty village of Oxwich, a mere two-minute stroll from the beach and the dog-friendly pub.  Energised after a hearty bowl of porridge, we set off early the next day for Rhossili Bay.

A brief stop while hiking from Port Eynon to Rhossili Beach on the Gower Peninsula

Hiking from Port Eynon to Rhossili Beach, Gower Peninsula

Winding along the narrow rocky coastal path, we meander up and down the coastline encountering only the odd solitary dog walker.  After London, it’s such a relief to be free of people and I’m amazed by the long expanses of deserted beach – eat your heart out Brighton.

close up of the stones at Port Eynon, Gower Peninsula

Long view from Port Eynon Beach, Gower Peninsula

The path is fairly easy with none of the roller coaster dips of the Jurassic Coast or Seven Sisters but what it lacks in physical challenge is more than compensated for by the sudden glimpses of glittering secret coves and sweeping panoramic views over to Cornwall.  One of the locals quips that on a hazy day, it’s just like looking across to Koh Samui.  While I wouldn’t quite go that far but its true to say that the Gower Peninsula certainly stirs the imagination.

Worm’s Head promontory

Half way along the path, the famous Worm’s head promontory swings into view.  “Worm” derives from the Viking word for dragon which brings considerably more gravitas to the serpent-shaped island.

View to Worm's head promontory from the Gower Peninsula

View from the mainland to Worm’s Head promontory

Worm’s head is joined to the mainland via a perilously rocky causeway which is only exposed for two and a half hours between low and high tide. Many have been caught out and left stranded, including the writer, Dylan Thomas, who ended up marooned for an evening, “fearful of rats and things I am ashamed to be frightened of”.

Gower Peninsula coastline in South Wales

Coastline of the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Our visit did not coincide with low tide so we could only gaze wistfully across to the mysterious lsle.  If you are lucky enough to arrive in time for low tide, make sure you wear sturdy walking boots as the causeway is lined with sharp rocks.

After a pit-stop lunch by the Worm, we continued on to our end destination Rhossilli Beach.  Rated Europe’s top beach, Rhossilli does not disappoint.  A vast expanse of deserted golden sand stretches as far as the eye can see, punctuated only by the dark silhouette of a shipwreck.

Rhossili Beach in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Wide view, Rhossili, Gower Peninsula, Wales

To add a bit more challenge to this walk, we decide to walk through the village and climb up to the next set of cliffs.  At the top, the silence is broken by the occasional swish of the paragliders who gracefully sail and swoop only a few feet from our heads.

close up of paragliders above Rhossili Beach on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Paragliders above Rhossili Beach, South Wales

 

After a steep descent (poles recommended), we end up at the far end of the beach where we embrace the warm sunshine by taking off our boots and dipping our feet in the sea.   Heaving ourselves back up the cliff face to Rhossili village, we reward ourselves with a restorative pint of Gower Power as we toast a fabulous weekend’s walking far from the madding crowds.

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