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BLOG | August 04, 2020

Swansea Bay, Mumbles and Gower is full of hidden gems…Here are a few you may not have explored before…

Penllergare Valley Woods

Penllergare Valley Woods is a picturesque landscape hidden away in a steep valley just a stone’s throw from the M4 in the north of Swansea.

With its lakes and waterfalls, terraces, panoramic views, and exotic trees and shrubs, this forgotten Victorian paradise is being slowly restored and brought back to life by The Penllergare Trust.

Visitors can enjoy over 12km of walks, including a stroll along the old Carriage Drive, and also down into the Llan valley where the Dillwyn Llewelyn family, who lived on the estate in the 19th century, created the Upper Lake and the stunning man made waterfall. Paths and tracks lead on down alongside the Afon Llan as it meanders its way to Fforestfach.

The woods are teeming with wildlife; there are kingfishers on the river, and buzzards and red kites are also frequent visitors. You might also see bats, foxes, and otters if you are lucky. The woods are known for their rhododendrons – the legacy of the ‘plant hunting’ Dillwyn Llewelyn family. These, along with drifts of wild daffodils and bluebells, are a popular sight in spring.

North Gower

The quiet North Gower coast with its extensive saltmarsh and dunes is a stark contrast to its popular southern partner!

Explore Whiteford Sands, peaceful and tranquil, and home to the only wave washed cast iron lighthouse still standing in the UK, Whiteford Lighthouse. The beach has no direct access by car, but you can park near the village of Llanmadoc, and make your way on foot via country paths.

Llanmadoc is a pretty rural village, and home to a 13th century church (reputedly on the site of an earlier building). This area is also home to an Iron Age Hill fort and Cwm Ivy, a haven for bird watchers. Keep your eyes peeled for little egrets, herons, kingfishers and lapwing (listen out for their distinctive ‘peewit’ sounding calls) that breed here in small numbers and lay their eggs on the ground around the outskirts of the marsh. The National Trust has two bird hides at Cwm Ivy, Cheriton hide and Monterey hide, located either side of the marsh, which also forms part of the wider Whiteford National Nature Reserve.

Pwll Du Bay

Pretty and pebbly, Pwll Du Bay sits at the bottom of a valley. It’s one for the more adventurous (as access is limited to 3 footpaths).

Because it is so secluded, there isn’t a car park, lifeguards, toilets or refreshment facilities. Public transport is available to and from Pwll Du Bay, but it is some distance away (approx. 400m). The distance between the bus stop and the beach may include difficult or rough terrain and unfortunately isn’t accessible by wheelchair.

Pwll Du really is a secluded bay…but offers plenty of open space, peace and quiet and lots of fresh sea air!

Lliw Reservoir

Lliw Reservoir, in Mawr, North of Swansea, offers an idyllic location for walkers, bird watchers (keep an eye out for Red Kites and Kestrels) and fishermen.

The reservoir originally supplied water to Swansea, but these days after being treated at the nearby Felindre Water Works, water is pumped all over South Wales.

Coal mining was once active in the area and there is a walk that passes one of the buildings of the Felindre Colliery, disused for over a hundred years.

There are some great walks in the area, with spectacular views across the rural countryside of Mawr.

Lliw Reservoir has re-opened to visitors following the easing of restrictions.  Please note that the access road is open from 8.00am and will close promptly at 6.00pm.

The café is open for takeaways only from 10.00am until 3.00pm daily, serving food from 10.00am until 2.30pm. Due to the rural location they are struggling with card facilities, so for now it will be CASH ONLY.

Arthur’s Stone

This Neolithic burial tomb dating back to 2500 B.C is steeped in myth and legend. It enjoys an eye-catching setting on elevated Cefn Bryn common with panoramic views across Gower. Legend has it that while travelling in Carmarthenshire, King Arthur removed a stone from his shoe and threw it across the Loughor Estuary. By the time it reached its final resting point at Cefn Bryn (and who can blame it for stopping in Swansea Bay), the stone had become an enormous boulder.

It was one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882. So whether you are interested in history, you enjoyed the King Arthur film, or you simply fancy enjoying one of our scenic walks along Cefn Bryn, we highly recommend a visit.

Discovering new places and hidden gems is all about having an adventure…start yours here in Swansea Bay!