The Gower Peninsula rests on Wales’ south west coast and holds the distinction of being the very first region in the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
A mere sixteen miles by seven, the Gower Peninsula boasts a rich variety of natural environments with grassland, heath, dunes and oak woodland, and fresh and saltwater marsh all noted.
Just five miles from the vibrant city of Swansea, Gower is of course known for its serene, tranquil coastline. Despite being relatively diminutive in length and breadth, five blue flag beaches - Langland Bay, Caswell Bay, Bracelet Bay, Port Eynon and Swansea Marina - reside along this stretch with a further five commended for their ‘natural, unspoiled environment’.
Happily devoid of seaside tat, Gower’s golden sands comprise classic surfing beaches, family-friendly rocky coves and bays, and stunning, peaceful coastal walks.
Most famous of them all is Rhossili – arguably the most celebrated beach in the UK. The breathtaking view from Worm’s Head at Rhossili Bay is reputed to be the 9th most-photographed sunset in the world. Despite being popular with surfers, hang-gliders and walkers, Rhossili’s perfectly unspoilt splendour is preserved.
Gower’s handful of residents inhabit the tiny, rustic villages which dot the peninsula, the most lively of which would have to be the gloriously-named Mumbles. This charming seaside village is the old stomping ground of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who grew up here, and indeed now owns a home in Mumbles with her A-list husband Michael Douglas.
Once noted for its extremely high concentration of pubs, the ‘Mumbles Mile’ has long been popular with drinkers – most notably poet and local legend Dylan Thomas, who was said to have enjoyed many an ale at The Mermaid. Although the number of pubs has halved in recent years, its popularity with drinkers endures.
The area’s biodiversity of course lends itself to a healthy variety of wildlife. Unsurprisingly, given the area’s AONB status, the region is awash with Nature Reserves and is a goldmine for wildlife enthusiasts. Indeed, Gower offers something for all outdoor types.
The Ryder Cup
Golf’s epic biennial event, The Ryder Cup, comes to Wales in 2010 when it will be held at Celtic Manor, in Newport. Around an hour’s drive away, Gower is an ideal location for anyone planning a trip to see Europe’s golfers battle their American counterparts.
Back on the peninsula, there are several quality courses - including Championship course Fairwood Park, host to a couple of Welsh PGA Championships in the 90s.
The Gower Peninsula is the Ian Woosnam of UK holiday destinations – small, but great. It’s hard to envisage anywhere else in the UK that crams so much isolated idyll and aesthetic beauty into such a relatively small area. With a unique charm all of its own, it really is a place to cherish and an essential UK holiday destination.
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