Our camping trip to the Gower Peninsula was a game of two halves, if you’ll pardon the sporting pun. Gower is in south Wales and holds the honour of being the first ever area in Britain to be given that charming title: “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, which is why we chose to camp on the Gower coastline for a summer weekend in Britain.
I can confirm it lives up to its reputation. The beaches are stunning – broad, smooth and clean with backdrops of cliff and dune.
We explored Three Cliffs, Tor Bay, Rhossili and Oxwich Bay with walking, rock climbing, horse riding, paddling and lazing in the warm sun all on the agenda.
The eponymous Three Cliffs made a great setting for everyone to try some rock climbing although Mr Wandering Kiwi got sunburnt belaying people from the top.
Next morning nature had taken a turn for the worse. Cloudy skies and driving rain had some of our crew opting for the challenge of packing up wet tents and heading for home. But if I have learned anything about camping in Britain it is that you have to be prepared for all weathers.
Fortunately most of us had the forethought to take the appropriate camping gear that saved the day, or at least breakfast, as we cook the porridge in the shelter of the tent porch. There was even a pot of coffee on the go!
Having survived the wet camping experience, those of us hardy souls who had stuck around were rewarded by the afternoon clearing and a wonderful walk on the Worm’s Head. The path crosses rock pools exposed by the tide, meanders along the razorback of the promontory and offers the chance to say hello to local wildlife – like this friendly Grey Seal:
Yes the wind was blowing but we soon warmed up and even got to take off our waterproofs! Worm’s Head is a tidal islet of Worm’s Head, with the name originating from the Viking words “wurme” meaning “serpent” and “holmr” meaning “island.”
The name is enough to take you back to when the Viking Dragon ships pulled into Rhossili Bay in 986, signalling the slaughter of many people and the destruction of the local priory. The Viking King, Sweyne Forkbeard is said to be buried near the top of Rhossili Downs, marked by the twin stone tombs known today as the Sweyne Howes.
Afterwards it was time to repair to The Worms Head Hotel. The views from here are justly famous – out to sea, across to the Worms Head and down to the wide expanse of Rhossili Bay and an intriguing shipwreck half buried in the sand.
The bare ribs of the ‘Helvetia’ – an oak barque wrecked here in 1887 – can be seen and another carcass just at the base of Rhossili Cliffs is that of the ‘Vennerne’ (wrecked here in 1894) .
The hotel has a reasonable selection of ales and traditional pub food. We watched the sun set over this spectacular corner of the British Isles from the terrace (well wrapped up because the summer had turned cold again).
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been to the Gower Peninsula? What else would you recommend to do there?