2020 is Year of the Outdoors in Wales and few places can rival the outstanding natural beauty of the Gower Peninsula. This 19-mile stretch of coastline, just a short drive from Swansea, is home to some of the most spectacular, unspoilt beaches and coastal hikes in the U.K.
I made my first visit to the Gower Peninsula in Spring, last year, and immediately vowed to make this our annual vacation spot. The scenery completely blew me away and the fact that this beautiful little corner of the U.K. is located less than 2 hours’ drive from Bristol is the cherry on top!
You could easily spend weeks exploring the idyllic coves, castles, and sandy bays of the Gower Peninsula but if you’re short on time, there are several easy hikes that will guarantee you some serious bang for your buck. Here are 3 of my favourite short hikes in Gower (and they’re all dog friendly, so you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind!)
Caswell Bay to Langland Bay
Caswell Bay to Langland Bay is one of the most popular hikes in Gower and it’s easy to see why. This beautiful trail combines two of the most picturesque beaches in Wales, with some seriously jaw-dropping cliffside views along the way.
The hike starts from Caswell Bay, a picture-perfect sandy beach surrounded by cliffs and lush green woodland. There’s a car-park (Foreshore Car Park) on Caswell Road, just across from the beach, which charges between £3-6 per day, depending on the season.
Caswell Bay is one of the few beaches in the area that operates a seasonal dog ban between the months of May and September, so we headed straight for the coastal path with our eager pup, Marnie, which is dog friendly all year-round. The trail starts to the left of the Surfside Cafe and is clearly marked, with a paved pathway leading up the cliff and around the bay.
The trail winds along the cliff edge with incredible views out to sea and the curving shoreline up ahead. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to spot seals in the water!
You’ll know you’ve reached Langland Bay as soon as you spot the famous green and white beach huts along the shore. The beach is also a popular surfing spot and you’ll be greeted with some cracking views of the wave-riders from the pathway leading down to the coast.
Located on the beach-front, is the popular Langland’s Brasserie – the perfect place to take a break with a cold beer after your hike. The restaurant has a lovely dog-friendly deck, too, so Marnie could enjoy the views!
Once you’re ready to tear yourself away from the beach bar, head back along the same trail, all the way to Caswell Bay. This hike can also be completed in reverse.
Parkmill to Three Cliffs Bay
Three Cliffs Bay is one of those places I wish I could keep all to myself. And sure enough, when we visited there was not another soul in sight! Part of the reason for this is that there’s no easy way to get to this spectacular beach – no car-park, no cafe, no toilets. In other words, pure tourist-free bliss! And the scenic hike to the bay makes the pay-off even more magical.
Start your hike from the Gower Heritage Centre. We didn’t have time to explore the centre itself but this rural life museum seemed like a great attraction, especially if you’re travelling with kids.
Just down the road from the centre, along Mill Lane, you’ll see a turning into some woodland opposite the Barham Centre. From here, the route to Three Cliffs Bay is well signposted and you can’t go wrong if you keep the stream to your right, which eventually meanders down to the beach.
After a short, shaded walk, the woodland opens out on to a grassy valley, surrounded by beautiful sand dunes. Look up and you’ll spot the ghostly ruins of Pennard Castle, high up on the hill. The castle dates back to the 12th century and is one of the most striking symbols of South Wales.
You’ll soon see the sandy bay stretched out in front of you, but before you can feel the sand between your toes, you’ll need to cross a stepping stone pathway over the river. Marnie was not a fan of this unexpected obstacle and needed to be carried across (all 70lbs of her!) But even her eyes lit up on seeing the empty beach before us, with its signature limestone cliffs.
Be sure to bring a blanket and make the most of your time on this wild and wonderful bay. If the tide is out, you can wander along the coastline and around the cliffs to Pobbles Beach – but don’t get caught out! You can check tide times here. Return the way you came, back through the woods to the Gower Heritage Centre.
Southgate to Pobbles Bay
Pobbles Bay is a hidden treasure along the South Wales coastline, tucked humbly behind its more famous sister, Three Cliffs Bay. Even the name Pobbles Bay has a certain ‘cwtch’ feeling to it and the beautiful cliff-top hike to this hidden cove makes it all the more appealing.
Start your hike at the National Trust Southgate car-park, located on top of the rugged Pennard cliffs. You’ll know you’re in the right place, as the car-park is full of friendly cows!
Setting off from the car-park, you’ll see a dirt-track running parallel with the cliffs. Follow it around, keeping the coast on your left. If you carry straight on, you can hike all the way to Pennard Castle and down to Three Cliffs Bay. But if you stay to the left, and follow the cliff-edge, you’ll be treated to spectacular coastal panoramas and views of Pobbles Bay and Three Cliffs Bay from above.
The path soon transforms into sweeping sand dunes, as you make your way down the cliffs, on to the secluded Pobbles Bay. Chances are you’ll have this stunning beach all to yourself, with the exception of some friendly locals and dog-walkers (and maybe even some horse-riders, to add to the wild and whimsical setting!)
Once you’re ready to head back, retrace your steps along the cliffs to the car-park. There’s a lovely little coffee shop opposite, called Three Cliffs Coffee – perfect for a well-deserved ice-cream break, after your hike!