Gower AONB

Rhossili Bay, Gower AONB, Wales
Rhossili Bay, Gower AONB, Wales © http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk

Gower – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The area was the first designated AONB back in 1956 in recognition of the qualities of the area and covers 188 square kilometres. The Gower Peninsula is 19 miles in length and is well known for the wonderful coastline, natural scenery, open spaces, natural environment, landscapes, tranquillity and variety of wildlife habitats and heritage.

The local population of approx 16,000 live in local villages and towns located across the AONB such as Oxwich, Port Eynon and Bishopston. The area covered under the AONB designation covers an area starting from close to Mumbles in the east to Middleton in the west to Crofty in the north to Oxwich in the south. The AONB area covers the majority of the Gower Peninsula apart form the north eastern corner. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Nature Reserves (NNR) and Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The key features and special qualities of Gower AONB include the scenic and unspoilt coastline with sandy beaches, landscapes, natural environments including grasslands, oak woodland and dunes, range of wildlife habitats, cultural heritage and historical sites. The area is important for wildlife and habitats with a number of protected sites including local and national nature reserves. The key features combined with the tranquillity, remoteness, natural beauty and relatively unspoilt nature of the site and inspiring scenery makes the area special.

The main industries in the AONB include farming, agriculture and tourism. The area is popular among visitors and attracts visitors for day trips, short breaks, holidays and increasingly for a number of recreational activities. There are a number of scenic historic villages located in the AONB including Llanmorlais, Bishopston and Rhossili. Main settlements located close by include the city of Swansea, Neath and Llanelli.

The area is popular for outdoor activities wildlife watching, fishing, golf, surfing and water sports, rock climbing, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy the famous natural beauty, scenic landscapes, some of the finest beaches in the UK showcasing Wales as its finest.

Quick Facts

Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1956

Population: 16,000 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 188

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): 25

National Nature Reserves (NNR): 3

Scheduled Ancient Monuments: 83

Listed Buildings: 126

Main Settlements close by: Swansea, Neath and Llanelli.


The Gower AONB in South Wales is not only a AONB but is also designated as a Heritage Coast. The area packs in a wide range of scenery and wildlife in a relatively compact area. The area is well known for its outstanding beaches visitors can explore a number of beaches away from the crowds.

The location of the Gower AONB in South Wales border provides visitors with a scenic haven away from the traffic and congestion of the towns and cities, visitors can discover some of the finest and most naturally scenic coastline in both Wales and the UK and enjoy inspiring views, open spaces and attractive villages.

The AONB is well known for its historic and inspirational coastline famous for being home to some of the finest beaches in the UK, hills, valleys, woodland, marshes, caves, a range of wildlife and habitats, a number of archaeological and historic sites reflecting the history of the area including castles ad churches. The AONB is popular as both a day trip and short breaks destination.

The AONB includes a number of small settlements and villages, the AONB area itself does not include any major towns or cities falling within the AONB boundary, local settlements include as Oxwich and Rhossili; visitors can discover a number of charming villages in the area.

The Gower AONB has a rich history and includes various scenic landscapes and environments for visitors to explore; the area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Local towns located close to the AONB border include Llanelli to the north, Neath and the city of Swansea to the east. The local towns provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Gower AONB and surrounding areas in south Wales.

The Area of Outstanding Beauty area enjoys a similar level of protection given to National Parks meaning commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to help protect and maintain the special qualities of the area. The area offers plenty for visitors to see, do and enjoy, the proximity of the Gower Peninsula to nearby Brecon Beacons National Park to the north east and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park to the west means time permitting visitors could explore all three in a trip to the area.

The location in the south of Wales means the AONB is easily assessable from across Wales, the Midlands and southern England. From Newcastle, Durham and much of north east England the area is 6 to 7 hours by car, from Leeds it is 5 hours by car, from Birmingham and much of the Midlands it is 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes. From Liverpool and Manchester it is approx 4 hours to 4 hour 30 minutes.

From Cambridge and much of the East of England it is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours by car. From Cardiff and South Wales it is 1 hours to 1 hours 30 minutes by car. From London and much of southern England it is 3 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours drive by car.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at Swansea tourist Information Centre close to the AONB. The tourist information centre can provide visitors with useful information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas.

The tourist information centre has knowledgeable staff with valuable local knowledge with information on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area. At the centres visitors can find out about local events, public transport options and accommodation facilities.

Local Accommodation includes a range of hotels including historic and contemporary, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Mumbles, Port Eynon and Llangennith. Towns located in the area including Neath and Llanelli and the city of Swansea, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas.

The Gower AONB provides a place for visitors to enjoy some peace and quiet in scenic landscape with a number of impressive panoramic views where it is possible to get away from it all. There are a number of small settlements in the AONB, many of the villages in the AONB have preserved their proud history, traditions and heritage remaining quintessential Welsh. The villages and surrounding areas include with a number of local attractions and places of interest to discover.

Local Towns and Villages include Bishopston located 6 miles to the west of Swansea in the south of the AONB area. Bishopston is one of the largest villages in the AONB area; the location of the village means it is in close proximity to both Mumbles and the city of Swansea and close to local accommodation, amenities and facilities. The village is still remote enough to offer a tranquil, peaceful haven by the sea.

Bishopston includes several shops including hotel, cafe and pubs. Local attractions include Bishopston Church (St Teilo's Church) located at the head of the Bishopston Valley. The church is thought to date back to the 13th century; over the church has been subject to several restorations and is noted for its architecture and stained glass.

The beaches at Bishopston are a popular draw for visitors and locals; Brandy Cove is located to the west of Caswell; it is thought the area was once a hot spot for smuggling and includes a wooded valley. Caswell is a popular beach for both families and surfers and includes lifeguards during the peak summer season. Pwalldu is located to the west of Brandy Cove, once famous for quarrying limestone, most of the historic buildings have gone yet the area retains its air of mystery.

Oxwich is a scenic village located 13 miles to the south west of Swansea in the Gower Peninsula. The compact village includes a number of historic thatched cottages and is known for St Illtyd's Church, the site has been a place of worship dating back to the 6th century, the current tower dates back to the 14th century, the church is still an active place of worship and is known for its Norman Arch, architecture and two tombstones.

Local attractions include Oxwich Castle is a historic Tudor house that is built in a courtyard style dating back to the 16th century. The house was once the home of the Mansel family; he house is located in wooded headland that overlooks Oxwich Bay. The house is under the guardianship of Cadw and visitors can tour the castle seeing the historic features and learning more about its history and heritage.

Oxwich Bay is known for its sandy beach, salt marshes woodland an sand dunes. The beach is assessable via the village of Oxwich and includes a 2.5 miles stretch of sandy beach, it is popular with water sports enthusiasts including swimmers, divers, water skiers and windsurfers. The Oxwich Bay Hotel is located at the western end of the beach, visitors can find food, drinks, snacks and refreshments here.

The Oxwich National Nature Reserve (NNR) is located here, it is home to a number of habitats, limestone cliffs and supports a wide variety of wildlife. There are approx 600 species of plants including rock whitebeam and dune gentian. The nature reserve includes an impressive array of bird life including reed warbler and sedge warbler. The nature reserve is located in a compact area but is home to a wide range of habitats and wildlife making it well worth a visit.

Rhossili is a picturesque and compact village located 19 miles to the west of Swansea on the west coast of the Gower Peninsula. The Worms Head is among the best known and most photographed parts of the AONB; it goes out to sea and when the tide comes in becomes an island. The village is a place visitors can find, peace, tranquillity and plenty of unspoilt natural beauty.

The village is a favourite for visitors there are a number of scenic walks to enjoy both to and from the village; whilst the long beach attracts surfers. The village offers some splendid panoramic views showcasing the natural beauty of the area. and town located by the River Dee surrounded by hills; it is located 10 miles to the east of Corwen in the south east corner of the AONB.

Rhossili National Trust Shop & Visitor Centre is located at Rhossili Bay; the visitor centre offers an interesting and varied programme of exhibitions and hosts a number of family events including Easter Egg Trails. Visitors can find a number of souvenirs, gifts and presents in the shop along with useful local information. A visit to the centre provides a good place to begin touring the Gower AONB area.

The Gower AONB is famous for its Beaches, the quality of the beaches means the area is a favourite for families and is popular amongst the surfing community. Among the best known and most popular beaches is Rhossili Bay located in the west of the Gower AONB approx 19 miles west of Swansea. Over the years the beach has been referred to as among the best beaches in the UK and one of the finest UK picnic spots along with being mentioned as one of the finest beaches in the world.

The area is a haven for wildlife with a number of birds found nesting in the cliffs. The combination of a wonderful beach, coastline that include cliffs and scenic beauty make Rhossili Bay a favourite destination for visitors. For surfing enthusiasts there are a number of beaches offering good waves including Llangennith, Caswell Bay and Langland Bay. For families Horton and Oxwich Bay are firm family favourites with plenty of sand and space for families to enjoy a day at the beach.

Three Cliffs Bay is located 10 miles to the west of Swansea in the Gower Peninsula, visitors can enjoy the sandy beach and the stunning shoreline that includes salt marshes, sand dunes and the famous limestone cliffs. A visit to Three Cliffs Bay offers visitors the opportunity to see the natural beauty and coastal scenery up close whilst enjoying an altogether wilder experience.

Gower Heritage Centre is located in Parkmill, 9 miles to the west of Swansea in the AONB area. Located in the heart of the Gower Peninsula, the heritage centre is both a rural life museum and a visitor attraction. There is a working corn ad saw mill on site that dates back to the 12th century, that is powered by a working water wheel. Visitors can learn more via the guided tours that are available and blacksmith demonstrations, there are additional craft workshops available.

The Animal Park at the centre includes ducks, chickens, geese, rabbits, miniature horses and pygmy goats, there are handling and feeding sessions where visitors can learn more about the animals. Attractions include the Woollen Mill where visitors can see demonstrations are carding, spinning and weaving; at one time the weaving industry was big in this part of Wales; currently it is much smaller scale than it once was. The mill and its demonstrations play an important part in maintaining the history and tradition of the area.

The Tea Rooms offer a range of hot and cold drinks along with a choice of snacks, light bites and hot meals including favourites such as cream teas and a choice of cakes. The tea rooms offer a place to relax and enjoy local cuisine made using local ingredients. There are also play areas for children on site, the heritage centre offers a fun and interesting day out for the whole family.

Walking offers visitors one of the most cost effective and environmentally friendly ways to discover the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Gower AONB includes a choice of landscapes and terrain offering shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities. The routes pass through some of the most scenic and prettiest villages in the AONB and include a number of routes covering the Wales Coast Path.

Walks include the Penmaen to Three Cliffs Bay walking route, that is a circular route suitable for all abilities. The distance is 2.5 miles that takes in scenic coastal paths and sandy slopes. The Penmaen to Gowerton - The Gower Way Walk is a more strenuous 10 mile walk that takes in woodland, moorland, fields and farm tracks; the walk is suitable for experienced walkers offering a fascinating insight in to rural Gower.

The Gower Walking Festival was established back in 2005, it takes place annually in June each year, the festival provides visitors with a great opportunity to see the best in the AONB area seeing the wildlife, scenery, coastline up close.

Cycling provides a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Gower AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes, bridleways, tracks and flat terrain to far more challenging terrain making the area suitable for cyclists of all abilities. There are a number of cycle routes in the area included routes covered in the National Cycle Network. The Swansea to Mumbles cycle route is 5 miles alongside the promenade offering great scenery and a number of cafes along the way.

Visitors to the Gower AONB in southern Wales can enjoy a quiet, scenic haven away from the crowds; that is of charm and character. Visitors can explore a number of historic Welsh villages and towns in and around the AONB. A visit to the Gower AONB offers visitors a scenic getaway showcasing some of the finest landscapes, beaches and natural scenery in Wales.

How to Get There

Gower AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The city of Swansea in Wales is located in the east of the AONB; providing a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation, facilities and local amenities. Located approx 185 miles from central London. From London take the A4 then take the M4 all the way until the junction 42 then exit on to the A483 that goes to Swansea. The approx journey time is 3 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

From London Paddington station there are regular services to Swansea train station. The journey time is approx 3 hours depending on service, connections and time of day. From Swansea there are bus services to the Gower Peninsula and the AONB area via the Gower Explorer Buses. Services from London Paddington to Swansea are proved by First Great Western Trains.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular coaches available from London Victoria Coach station to Swansea. The approx journey time is 4 hours 15 minutes to 5 hours 15 minutes depending on connections, time of day and traffic. From Swansea there are bus services available to the Gower AONB including to Oxwich, Horton, Port Eynon and Rhossili via the Gower Explorer Bus; for more information please see BayTrans. Coach services to Swansea are provided by National Express

Contact Details

Gower AONB
Economic Regenration & Planning
Directorate of Place
Civic Centre
Oystermouth Road

Telephone: +44 (0)1792 635094

Website: Gower AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Gower AONB Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Gower AONB in south Wales ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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