The Gower peninsula (Welsh: Penrhyn Gŵyr) was designated as the United Kingdom’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. This longstanding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty designation means that Gower’s splendid scenery has been protected from over development and commercialisation.
The peninsula projects westward from Swansea into the Bristol Channel and is bounded by the Loughor Estuary to the north and Swansea Bay to the east. The interior consists mainly of farmland, common land and wooded valleys. Along the southern coast, there are a series of small, rocky or sandy bays, such as Langland, Caswell and Three Cliffs, and larger beaches such as Port Eynon and Oxwich Bay. The west coast is dominated by long expanses of at Rhossilli Bay, Broughton Bay and Whitford sands. An extensive salt marsh bounds the estuary on the north coast and it is home to the cockle-beds of Penclawdd. The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) includes all of the peninsula west of Crofty, Three Crosses, Upper Killay, Blackpill and Bishopston.
The Gower peninsula is ideal for the classic British beach holiday as it provides a wide variety of beaches, bays and coves in a relatively short coastline.
The pins in the map show the locations of the most easily accessible beaches.
Click on the pins to see the locations with distances and driving times from Hill House.
During the spring and summer, some of the popular beaches have lifeguard patrols and dog walking restrictions.
The area is very popular with surfers and there are a number of surfing schools catering to all age groups and abilities. See our Gower Surfing Schools page for information on the various schools that operate on the peninsula coastline.
In addition, to help you get the most out of your holiday we have produced a smartphone App that gives you detailed information on all of Gower’s bays, beaches and coves.
It is free to download and use and available for Android or iPhone, its free to download and there are no annoying advert or in-App purchases.
History of the Gower Peninsula
All of the historical and archaeological sites and artefacts described in the following paragraphs are found within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Gower peninsula is known to have been inhabited since at least the Upper Paleolithic period. There are 83 scheduled ancient monuments and sites representing most periods in history since that time. These include stone, bronze and iron age sites, medieval castles, eighteenth-century parkland, and industrial monuments. It has been described as an ‘unrivalled microcosm of Wales’s historic wealth.
In 1823 Rev. William Buckland discovered a fairly complete Upper Paleolithic-era human male skeleton in Goat’s hole cave. This is one of the Paviland Caves located between Port Eynon and Mewslade. The find was named the Red Lady of Paviland because the fossilized bones are dyed in red ochre. Later investigators determined that the skeleton was actually a male. This was the first human fossil to have been found anywhere in the world. To date, it is still the oldest ceremonial burial to be discovered anywhere in Western Europe. The most recent re-calibrated radiocarbon dating in 2009 indicates that the skeleton can be dated to around 33,000 Before Present (BP).
At the time of the burial, the cave was probably more than 100km from the sea. The passage of geological time has made the cave a decidedly more scenic final resting place.
In the 1950s, archaeologists excavating a protected site on the peninsula found 300-400 pieces of flint related to tool making. The artefacts were dated to between 12,000-14,000 BC. A rock drawing of a red deer was also found in the same location in 2010. This was dated to the same period and is thought to be the oldest cave art found in Great Britain.