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The beautiful Gower Peninsula is the United Kingdom's first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Located in South Wales, it falls under the administration of the city of Swansea.
This article covers the rural areas of Swansea. It has been given the title 'Gower' as the Gower Peninsula constitutes the largest portion of Swansea's rural area and is the district of most interest to tourists. However, the article also includes the highland areas of Pontardulais and Mawr. On the peninsular itself, the article covers all points west of Bishopston, Pwll Du Bay and Fairwood Common. Detailed information of the urban area east of this line is documented in the Swansea article.
Due to strict zoning laws, the rural areas of Swansea have not succumbed to urban sprawl. However, there are a few traditional villages in the area:
- Oxwich - nestled in the curve of Oxwich Bay and with its thatched rooved cottages and castle, Oxwich is perhaps the Gower's most picturesque village. Just past the Oxwich Bay Hotel, there is a wonderful Saxon church built on the headland of the bay.
- Rhossili - located on a ridge offering spectacular views over Rhossili Bay and Worms Head. The tea shops and pubs in the village are of mediocre quality, but there is a great National Trust shop at the beginning of the cliff path.
The Gower Peninsular is one of the UK's most beautiful areas, offering spectacular coastal scenery, golden beaches, medieval castles and quaint villages.
The people of South Gower are traditionally English speaking and cannot speak Welsh. However, north Gower and the district of mawr has a high percentage of Welsh speakers.
- Buses departing from Swansea's Quadrant Bus Station cover the whole area.
- Gower Heritage Centre 1 (http://www.gowerheritagecentre.co.uk/), Parkmill, Gower, Swansea. Tel:371206 - a rural life museum based around a working water mill - gift shop and cafe on site.
- Rhossili Bay and Worm's Head is absolutely breathtaking at sunset, and the vista is widely considered to be one of Europe's most spectacular coastal scenes. An excellent National Trustgift (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/) shop marks the beginning of the cliff top path, while the picturesque village of Rhossili provides an ideal setting for enjoying cream teas in the summer or for relaxing and taking a contemplative stroll at any time of the year. In addition, the conditions at Rhossili are excellent for handgliding and surfing; historians may also be interested to note that there is evidence of a stone-age settlement here.
- Three Cliffs Bay - a great place to take a stroll through woods and watch the wild ponies galloping on the beach. The ruins of Pennard Castle guard the area from a hill to the left (when facing the sea). Note, however that the strong undercurrent at this bay make it unsuitable for swimming. The beach is entered from a path across from Shepard's village store and cafe.
- (King) Arthur's Stone 2 (http://members.aol.com/gowersouthwales/Gowers-Castle-Guide.htm) on Cefn Bryn, Gower is a neolithic burial chamber or cromlech dating from 2500BCE. The name is derived from a legend that the stone was thrown onto Cefn Bryn by the mythical King Arthur.
- Weobley Castle (http://www.castlewales.com/weobley.html) - located in north Gower, this is one of Swansea's best preserved castles and offers commanding views over the Loughor Estuary to Carmarthenshire.
- King Arthur's Hotel (http://www.kingarthurhotel.co.uk/location/location.htm), Reynolston. Tel:390775 - great lunches/dinners in a wonderful traditional country hotel.
- The Gower Inn, Parkmill - a lovely old inn serving traditional pub food as well as some more innovated dishes.
- Shepard's Village Store in Parkmill offers simple but excellent value meals in their coffee shop.
Good coffee at Shepard's Village Store in Parkmill.
- Parc-le-Breos House, Penmaen, Gower. Tel:371636 - a converted 19th century farm house in own grounds.
- Stembridge Mill (http://freespace.virgin.net/wendell_p.j/index.htm/), Stembridge Mill, Gower. Tel:391640 - a country-house hotel.
- Fairyhill (http://www.fairyhill.net/), Fairyhill, Gower. Tel:390139 - a converted country mansion in own grounds. Need car/taxi. Great for walks and contemplation.
See 'Stay Safe' section for Swansea