Gower Beaches - beautiful, unspoilt and award-winning beaches http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches Thu, 30 Mar 2017 12:32:25 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Blue Pool Bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/blue-pool-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/blue-pool-bay

Blue Pool Bay is one of Gower's most charming bays. There are no roads or lanes leading to this beach and its location and very sheltered position at the base of u-shaped cliffs is such that only those who know about its existence, and are not afraid of a good walk, ever frequent the clean sands here. It is not a beach that is usually just stumbled upon and the average tourist will usually settle for the larger, more easily accessed neighbouring beach of Broughton. For that reason, Blue Pool Bay is also one of Gower's quieter bays.

Blue Pool Bay

At low tide, the beach is best accessed from Broughton Bay along the shoreline. As the tide comes in, however, Blue Pool Bay is cut off from Broughton, making this approach impossible. At these times, a walk southwards along the cliffs at Broughton will lead to a beautiful walk along cliff top dunes. By following this path, the walker will eventually reach Burry Holmes and Llangennith Sands. However, if a careful watch is kept to the seaward view, well before these two land marks are reached, a wide stretch of sand will be noticed clinging to the foot of the cliffs. Descending the well-used slope to the northerly edge of the beach will soon bring the large rock pool, which gives this bay its name, into view.

Blue Pool

Blue Pool

Blue Pool itself is an immense rock pool which legend has held is bottomless. Whilst this is obviously not the case, the depth of the rock pool has been measured at between four and eight metres, depending on tidal and weather conditions. This depth of water has made the rock pool popular for diving.

Three Chimneys

The cliffs around Blue Pool Bay has an interest formation of natural sea arches known as Three Chimneys. Further along is located a small bone cave known as Culver Hole (which is not to be mistaken for the Port Eynon/Overton cave of the same name). This cave has yielded numerous prehistoric finds.

Near Three Chimneys, gold doubloons from a Portugese shipwreck, were discovered in 1770 and again in 1840. The cliffs here still evidence the blasting they received as prospectors wondered whether more coins were hidden within their deep crevices.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 09 Sep 2012 19:16:58 +0000
Bracelet Bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/bracelet-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/bracelet-bay

At low tide, the popular rocky cove of Bracelet Bay offers families a varied shoreline to bathe/paddle, build sandcastles and also explore some fine rock pools. A wide variety of seashore life can be found here, including sea anemone and hermit crabs.

Bracelet Bay

Swim here with caution however, for the tides off Mumbles Head are treacherous as its naval history testifies. The first Mumbles lifeboat disaster occurred here in 1883, resulting in the loss of four lives and numerous ships have floundered off its rocky coastline.

Bracelet Bay offers great views towards Mumbles Lighthouse, whose operation is now the responsibility of Trinity House.

Site of Specific Scientific Interest

The bay is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the limestone geology and the small fossilised coral reef that can be found near the centre of the bay near the grass verge.  The reef is comprised of the large circular sponge Chaetetes Septosus, together with many Productus shells and a Crinoid (sea lily).

During the warm shallow seas of the Carboniferous Period, the rocks at Bracelet Bay were laid down as the seabed  250 million years ago, along with the sediments of sponges, corals and brachiopods (Seminula/lamp shells).  

Also of interest to geologists are the limestone rocks that show a number of folds and faults as the rocks were deformed during the mountain building period some 290 million years ago.

Car Park

The beach has an ample car park and is easy to access from the road that surrounds Mumbles Hill, hugging the coast of Mumbles Point.  The car park offers an amazing view of the bay's seascape, neighboured by Mumbles' Lighthouse, that it is hardly surprising that people park up to appreciate the view, even on the stormiest days, from the comfort of their car.

Bracelet Bay car park

There is also a restaurant and bar situated here and during the summer months, numerous vans selling ice-creams and take-away fast foods.

Bracelet Bay Cave

At low tide there is an interesting cave to explore to the east of the beach, but please be wary of the tide!

Bracelet Bay Cave

As the tide retreats from Bracelet Bay, a curious little geological feature can be found in the rocks separating the beach from Mumbles. Offering an excellent grotto/playden for children (or adults) wanting relief from a blistering summer's sun, Bracelet Bay Cave is actually a curved tunnel carved naturally through the limestone rock.

Bracelet Bay Cave

Beautifully smooth rock walls, some pools which might require a little negotiation if wet feet are not desired and a cool atmosphere even on the hottest of days are the key features of this cave, but the sense of mini-adventure as its short course is explored is the prime draw to Bracelet Bay cave.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Fri, 17 Aug 2012 19:52:38 +0000
Brandy Cove http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/brandy-cove http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/brandy-cove

Brandy Cove, located half a mile west of Caswell Bay, is probably Gower’s most infamous beach and is steeped in history and legend. The small cove gets its name from the days when smuggling was rife on the Gower Peninsula and the sands were used to land illicit cargo of tobacco and alcohol.

Brandy Cove

Geology

The beach itself is very small, with sandy stretches only at low tide and offers a good example of an exposed Pleistocene raised beach – evidence that the sea level here was once thirty feet higher than it is today. Known as the Patella Beach, this raised Ipswichian dated beach can be seen in the fault gully of the rock here as a concrete-like mixture of shell and pebble over a more gravel like substance. The site takes its name from the fact that Limpets (Patella) are the more common shell found amongst this deposit.

Brandy Cove

Old Moll

Perhaps less well known than the tales of smuggling more usually associated with Brandy Cove are the two stories of the supernatural connected with the beach. The first concerns a certain old woman who went by the name Old Moll.

Old Moll was said to have made her home in one of Brandy Coves' caves, but spent much of her time wandering through the many small villages and farms on the Gower Peninsula. Old Moll had the reputation of being a witch and of being cursed. Whenever she travelled through a farm, its cattle would fall ill or lame, and villagers who spied her ragged form would soon fall upon some bad luck or dire misfortune. On one occasion Old Moll is said to have heard a small child laughing at her haggard appearance. Thereafter the child was plagued with the cruellest of nightmares.

The people of Gower became so afraid of Old Moll that they made a collection of silver coins and ornaments and took these to a blacksmith to be fired into silver bullets. Arming themselves with these, a gang of vigilantes went out towards Brandy Cove in search of Old Moll - meaning to rid themselves of her evil forever. Discovering her on one of Gower's many commons, they fired at her but Old Moll turned herself into a hare to flee more quickly from her pursuers.

Old Moll managed to escape from the gang but not without taking a shot to her leg. Nonetheless, the villagers had cause for celebration as, no doubt fearful for her life, Old Moll was never again spotted on the peninsula.

Whilst Gower folk rejoiced, however, farmers and villagers in other regions of Glamorgan were less than jubilant, as Old Moll made a new home for herself in their hills and valleys further inland - her bad luck spreading wherever her limping form was spotted.

Mamie Stuart

A later tale of the supernatural connected with Brandy Cove has a chilling link with a real life murder that took place on or near the beach during the winter of 1919. First reported by a couple who were walking along the cliffs above Brandy Cove one evening - stories of a woman's screams which echoed through the caves of the beach soon became common talk amongst the surrounding villages of Pennard, Bishopston and Caswell.

These tales continued, with the locals becoming too afraid to visit the beach after dark, until 1961 when matters came to a sudden head after several youths from Bishopston decided to thoroughly explore the caves of Brandy Cove. It did not take them too long to uncover a horrifying secret. There, hidden behind a wall of boulders in an old lead mine, they discovered the skeletal remains of Mamie Stuart - a young woman who had disappeared from the area more than forty years earlier. Although her murderer was never traced, evidence does strongly suggest that the young chorus girl died at the hands of her jealous bigamist husband George Shotton.

With so many years having passed since her death, there were no soft tissue or body organs present on the skeleton when it was discovered and so no actual cause of death could be ascertained from Mamie's remains.  What was easily discernible, however, was that her body had been inexpertly cut into three large pieces before being walled into the cave. The resulting police investigation immediately brought up George Shotton as the chief, if not only, suspect in the case.

Unfortunately, Shotton was never brought to trial as he died of natural causes in 1958, aged 78 years - just three years before the discovery of Mamie's remains. Despite the fact that justice was never seen to have been done over her murder, no ghostly cries were heard again at Brandy Cove. Sadly Mamie's remains were never buried and were last seen in 2007 in a box in Cardiff University but since then have vanished.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 09 Sep 2012 16:25:32 +0000
Broughton Bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/broughton-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/broughton-bay

Pronounced Bruffton, this quite large and very sandy bay is very popular with caravan enthusiasts - there being two caravan parks situated at each end of the beach. The two parks, however, are not directly linked by road, the site at the southern end being accessible by the road from Llangennith, whilst the park at the northern end of the bay can only be reached by the road leading from Llanmadoc.

Broughton Bay

In past ages, the bay used to be regularly visited by sailing vessels up to 700 tons. These were able to anchor here up until around the 1850s, after which the sand of the Burry Estuary silted the bay too heavily to afford their traffic.

Beachcombing the Sands

The sands here can shift quite drastically with the tides, especially after a gale. At low tides, after the sands have shifted, many a rewarding find have been discovered by walking this stretch of beach.  Not so long ago, the handle of a 17th Century sword was discovered, protruding from the sands like King Arthur's Excalibur itself. The handle had become separated from the blade itself but, remarkably, this also was found, and by the same man, a few days later whilst patrolling the same stretch of bay. Historians and archeologists all insist that this area still has a lot of treasure to disclose to the lucky beachcomber. 

Caves

At the northern end of the bay, set high amongst the cliff, lays the twin entrance of Spritsail Tor Cave. Discovered in 1839 whilst quarrying the rock here, remains of Ice-Age animals and two fragments of worked bone suggest that the cave was occupied by Palaeolithic man. Further animal and human bones were also uncovered here, along with fragments of pottery, detailing how the cave later came to be used as for domestic and funerary use during the Roman occupation of the area.

To the south-east of the bay, at Foxhole Point, a deep but shallow sea cave with a clean, sandy floor can be found.

The southern end of the bay gives access, at low tide only to a series of small coves, the largest of which is Blue Pool Bay.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 09 Sep 2012 18:50:06 +0000
Caswell Bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/caswell-bay-gower-peninsula http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/caswell-bay-gower-peninsula

Caswell possesses one of Gower's most popular family beaches and lies conveniently close to Swansea, with its own large pay and display car park at the entrance of Bishop's Wood Nature Reserve.

The sands of Caswell Bay stretch half a mile and are backed by cliffs and wooded valley. The bay has been a very popular resort for bathers since Victorian times, where many day trips were organised for underprivileged workhouse children as well as visits by the Vivian family.

Today's visitors are more likely to be surfers, anglers or young families.

Caswell

The name Caswell may come from Cresswell or cress stream from the Old English words 'cerse' (cress) and 'wella' (well) and probably relates to the stream that meanders down Caswell valley and out and along the beach to the sea. The stream travels underground for some distance, giving rise to curious bubbling pools along certain stretches of the bay.

Facilities

  • Toilets are situated at the car park entrance and boast an outdoor surf shower to rinse down wet suits and salty, sandy beach revellers.
  • A few beach kiosks sell refreshments and traditional seaside products near the steps that lead down to the sands.
  • A boathouse is set against the rocky cliffs with adjacent slipways. 
  • Bus access to the beach can involve some walking, as buses generally do not go down the steep road to the beach area, except during July and August.  The closest bus stop during the rest of the year is at Caswell Drive at the top of the hill towards Newton.

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Natural features

At low tide, the eastern side of Caswell Bay is by far the more interesting aspect of the beach to explore - with a shallow cave and some of Gower's more spectacular geology to investigate. It is also along this stretch where starfish can sometimes be found in abundance amongst the many rockpools which form here. Casell was voted as one of 10 UK top rockpool hotspots by The Guardian in 2007.

Beadlet anemones and blennies lock heads with shore crabs, edible crabs and velvet fiddler crabs here. Best of all are the sea slugs that spurt purple ink as a defence mechanism, and even the odd octopus.

An eye should be kept on the incoming tide, however, as this part of the bay is cut off during certain tidal conditions.

Notable people

John Dillwyn Llewelyn

In 1846 the pioneering photographer from Penllergaer, John Dillwyn Llewelyn, bought the bottom end of Caswell Valley to build an Elizabethan-style mansion.  The house, which was named Caswell Cottage was frequently used as a summer residence by John Dillwyn Llewelyn and his wife Emma Thomasina Talbot.  Emma was first cousin to the lead pioneer photographer Henry Fox Talbot, who inspired Dillwyn Llewelyn’s love of photography.  Caswell Cottage was eventually demolished in the early 1960s to clear the site of the current Caswell car park.

Frances Ridley Havergal

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879), a notable English poet and hymn-writer lived in nearby Newton, for a year before her death.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 05 Aug 2012 09:16:32 +0000
Fall Bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/fall-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/fall-bay

Fall Bay is a long, shallow beach nestled in the coastline to the east of Worm's Head. The beach can be reached directly from the village of Rhossili via footpaths across several fields or, for a longer and more awe-inspiring walk, by following the cliff path from Rhossili, past Worm's Head and round the headland – keeping the dry stone wall directly to your left.

Fall Bay

The beach has an expansive Pleistocene raised beach as well as some great fossil displays. Above the beach, an example of an old limestone kiln can be found just below the foot style which leads to Middleton.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 09 Dec 2012 22:31:28 +0000
Langland http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/langland-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/langland-bay

Due to its proximity to Swansea, Langland is one of the more popular beaches in Gower. Compared to other bays on the peninsula, Langland cannot exactly be described as having picturesque surroundings, but its wide stretch of flat, clean sand, plus the fact that it has a lifeguard patrol during the summer months, makes this beach perfect bucket and spade territory. It is also a favourite haunt amongst local surfers.

Langland Bay

There are two unique features to Langland Bay - the rows of green beach huts that are leased for the season by Swansea City Council and the large mock-gothic mansion that looks out magnificently over the sea from the middle section of the beach. This rather magnificent and imposing building was built circa 1850 as a summer villa for Henry Crawshay, son of a Merthyr Tydfil iron-master. Later enlarged to form a hotel, the mansion is now used as a convalescent home.

For those after something a little more invigorating than an afternoon soaking up the summer sun, there is an excellent 2.5 kilometre cliff walk east to Mumbles, which is suitable for families, and a slightly rougher cliff walk west to Caswell - 2.5 kilometres to the west.

Coastal path to Langland

The bay and surrounding area's name is a corruption of "Long Land" - a reference to the way the farming land here used to be divided into long field strips.

The eastern end of the bay, separated by a brief spur of rock, is known as Rotherslade. This beach only exists separately from Langland at high tide. 

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Wed, 05 Sep 2012 22:38:41 +0000
Limeslade http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/limeslade-bay http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/limeslade-bay

Limeslade is a particularly small, stony cove, that completely disappears at high tide. Found by traveling around the headland of Mumbles and past Bracelet Bay, the access to this quiet bay is from the roadside opposite Forte's cafe and down a number of steps.

Limeslade Bay

What the bay lacks for in sand, however, it certainly makes up for in fascinating geology - which has a character distinct from that of its sister cove, Bracelet Bay, despite lying but a few minutes walk from it.

At the base of the cliff supporting the steps, is an old iron ore mine that is believed to have been worked as far back as Roman times. The mine was closed in 1890 and has now been sealed behind a wall of cemented limestone blocks.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 05 Aug 2012 15:26:54 +0000
Llangennith Sands http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/llangennith-sands http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/llangennith-sands

The northern half of Rhossili Bay is referred to locally as Llangennith Sands and is popular with campers and surfers alike.

Llangennith Surfers

Offering a fabulous view over Rhossili, south to Worm's Head and north to Burry Holmes, this is the best area on the whole of Gower for both surfing and wind-surfing, and is the first place to pick up the swell of the Atlantic Ocean before it drives through the Bristol Channel to the rest of the Gower beaches.

Worm's Head from Llangennith dunes

The remains of the paddle steamer "City of Bristol" is a feature here - its metal carcass a continued memorial to the many who lost their lives aboard when the ship grounded here in 1840.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Fri, 17 Aug 2012 20:22:50 +0000
Mumbles Beach http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/mumbles-beach http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-beaches/mumbles-beach

Reached via some steep concrete steps leading down from the entrance to Mumbles Pier, Mumbles Beach is a small, sheltered area of sand and rock pools. The pools become very popular during the holiday season, where children and adults alike can be seen, net in hand, searching for hermit crabs and the numerous small fish trapped here by the retreating tide.

The most prominent feature of Mumbles Beach are the twin tidal islets which gave Mumbles its title (its name derives from “Marmelles” – meaning “Breasts” – which the islets are said to resemble).

On the inner islet, several defensive installations and army buildings from WW2 can still be seen. The outer islet supports Mumbles Lighthouse.

The original lighthouse, built in 1793, was coal-fired and the the old tram track and wooden winch that carried coal up to the original twin fires can still easily be identified along the beach.

Of further historical note, this area was used for experiments in over water telegraphy by J. D. Llewelyn and Sir Charles Wedstone – that even predated those by Marconi. During WW1, the beach was used for trench practise and in WW2, the beach was protected against possible enemy invasion by machine gun turrets.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Beaches Sun, 09 Dec 2012 11:29:55 +0000