“The Mumbles” is the name given to the western end of Swansea bay by local tourism industry executives and Yuppie’s living in the area. In general terms, it is the district encompassing the electoral wards of Oystermouth, Newton, West Cross, and Mayals. These are all separate communities and their individual character and heritage will be lost if steps are not taken to stem the inappropriate use of the name “The Mumbles”. Places of interest at the western end of Swansea Bay are Oystermouth, Southend and Mumbles itself.
Waterfront Village with family-owned local shops.
- Oystermouth Castle – SA3 4BD
- Underhill Park – SA3 4ND
- Tennis courts between Oystermouth and Southend
- Dogs allowed on the beach all year
- The Tivoli building, former cinema, dance hall, rollerskate rink, and amusement arcade, and surrounding area has been redeveloped to provide a new waterfront area with a number of restaurants.
This section of the promenade is characterised by the many boats and yachts that are laid up alongside the walkway.
- Southend Gardens – SA3 5TN
- Crazy golf, children’s play area, cafes, local shops, and public houses
- Dogs allowed on the beach all year
- The Bay Rider land train runs between Southend and Blakpill during the summer.
- Large waterfront car parks
Mumbles is the name given to the headland at the western tip of Swansea Bay. It comprises of the hill and the two small islands. It is thought that the route of the name Mumbles is a corruption of the Latin for breasts (mamilla). It is believed that the name is credited to either the Romans or french sailors after the shape of the two anthropomorphic islands. The Houses between Southend and the headland now comprise Mumbles together with Bracelet bay and Limeslade. The lighthouse, on the outermost island, was established in the 1790s. It was converted to solar-powered operation in 1995. There are car parks on the approach road to the pier and on top of the hill behind the pier.
Mumbles Pier was opened in 1898 just over ninety years after the opening of the Swansea to Mumbles railway in 1804. The railway was established to carry limestone from the Quarries at Mumbles to Swansea and was originally horse-drawn. It was the world’s first passenger railway and hold the record for the number of forms of locomotion – horse, sail, coal, and electricity. The railway terminus was moved to the area adjacent to the pier when the passenger railway was established in 1807. At the end of Mumbles Pier are the RNLI lifeboat station and museum. Records show that a lifeboat has operated in Mumbles since 1966. The Mumbles lifeboat disaster occurred in 1947 when the entire lifeboat crew were drowned while trying to rescue the crew of the SS Samptampar. Adjacent to the pier are refreshment facilities, toilets, and an amusement arcade.
Alongside the entrance to the pier is a set of steps that takes you down to a small beach that is the last strip of sand on Swansea bay. It is a popular place for exploring the many rock pools in the causeway between the headland and the first island at low tide. When the tide is very low the causeway extends as far as the second island where the lighthouse is located.
The Original Apple Shop
The original Apple Shop is located at the entrance to the car park on the hill overlooking the pier. There are steps and a roadway leading down from the car park to the pier.
It is the last surviving example of a string of kiosks built in the 1930s to promote a brand of cider called Cidertone. It has been painstakingly repaired after a Ford Fiesta ploughed into it in August 2009. Known locally as the Big Apple Ice cream kiosk it is a grade two listed building.
I have a vague childhood recollection, from the 1950s, of a pear-shaped kiosk alongside the Big Apple. I have not been able to find any photographs of this structure so it may just be wishful thinking.
Mumbles Hill Local Nature Reserve
The 23 hectares of Mumbles Hill was declared a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) in 1991 to protect the site for both wildlife and people. The remains of World War II anti-aircraft and sea defense batteries are littered across the site.
One of the entrances onto the reserve is a little way down the road towards Limeslade from the Big Apple Kiosk on the opposite side of the road. Other entrances are the end of Thistleboon Drive and close to the junction of Thistleboon Road and Village lane in Southend.
See the Swansea Ramblers walk through this nature reserve
Further on down the Mumbles road from the Big Apple Kiosk are Bracelet Bay and Limelsade. They are separated by a rocky promontory that is the location of the Mumbles Coastguard Station. You can read about Bracelet Bay and Limeslade in our Gower Beaches guide. At Limeslade the cost path goes off-road and follows the cliff path to Rotherslade. You can read more about the Swansea bay promenade in our Swansea Bay guide.