Swansea, Wales, looked like a large city but seemed like a small town. After being there, I learned that its population at the beginning of the 19th century, when London had more than a million people, was under 7,000. Since then it has grown and receded fairly regularly. It was finally granted city status by Prince Charles, yes, the son of the current Queen Elizabeth who’s still waiting to be King…..in 1969. Ruth and I got very lucky in Swansea.
We explored its core and were pretty much done by noon. By then we were in its city bus station where we approached 2 rather elderly local ladies and asked about the Gower Peninsula. “Is it worth seeing?”
“Yes. Go to Rhossili.”
“How do we get there?” I inquired and one of them pointed to a city bus that was about to leave. We paid a modest fare and were on our way to what we assumed was a coastal town not on most maps within 5 minutes. We spent the rest of this day falling in love with Rhossili and the Gower Peninsula, and I now fully understand why it was the 1st part of Great Britain to be named an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The trip to Rhossili, which turned out to be a couple of restaurants and resorts near a scenic overlook of one of the most impressive beaches I have every seen from afar, took 1½ hours. Again, it’s no wonder that TripAdvisor users have named this beach one of the best in the world 7 years in a row. From this overlook it’s a short walk to another very scenic overlook, the rocks and island far below called Worm’s Head. The trip to Rhossili took us through increasingly smaller towns like Southgate and Port Eynon with frequent views of harbors, golf courses, English gardens on one-lane roads, and the unexpectedly beautiful Bristol Channel. On the way there we passed through the seaside resort of Mumbles, which we had heard about, and vowed to explore it on the way back to Swansea but never made it.
I was interested in exploring both Rossiili Beach and Worm’s Head but found that the Head was reachable after high tide by following an unusual causeway. The Worm’s Head Watchstation informed me that WH is a tidal island opened for about 2½ hours on either side of low tide. Judging from the number of people on the promontory, this is a popular and exciting activity that takes planning to be safely done.
The entire Gower Peninsula is spectacularly scenic. I was not surprised to learn that it contains several world-class beaches, a popular 38-mile-long coastal path popular with hikers, and an annual walking festival. So many gorgeous places to see and return to!