When you think UK break, you might have Devon and Cornwall in mind. But an often overlooked part of the British Isles, is the stunning Welsh coastline.
Wales holds a special place in my heart. Not only are my ancestors from the town of Abertillery, but I went to university in Cardiff for three years, and many of my friends are from there.
And this time around I was visiting a part of Wales I’d never been to before, the Gower Peninsula. I was lucky enough to be invited recently to visit this gorgeous part of the world by the Visit Swansea Bay tourist board.
So satnav on, and bat and ball packed in the boot we headed off to south Wales and the Gower Peninsula’s 19 miles of coastline and beaches.
Without even dropping our luggage off, we headed straight to Oxwich Bay for a walk along the beach. It was early Friday afternoon and with kids at school and most adults at work we shared the huge stretch of sand with a handful of dog walkers and a group of teenagers on their lunch break.
After a nap on the sand following a particularly competitive game of bat and ball, we headed to the gorgeous Beach House. The carefully assembled lunch menu by Head Chef Hywel Griffith was small in size, but huge on flavour. From the homemade laverbread and butter to start, to the strawberry sorbet and pannacotta for dessert, we were so impressed.
With full stomachs we headed to our accommodation for the weekend, Langland Bay House. And as we pulled into the gates we realised we hit the jackpot.
The ONE bedroom B&B (yes, really!) is owned by the delightful Miles and Grace. Their gorgeous Victorian home is a stone’s throw away from the beach.
There were such sweet touches including a cupboard full of new razors, nail polish remover and other miscellaneous items we may have forgotten.
Once we’d ticked tomorrow’s breakfast off the sheet they gave us (packed full of everything from a full English using local produce, to smoked kippers, and even cockles), we headed down to the beach for a late afternoon dip.
Salt and sand rinsed off, we were ready for pre-dinner drinks at Langland Bay Brasserie, then dinner at Bistrot Pierre, a small-chain restaurant in the pretty seaside town of Mumbles. The food was good, the view even better and our waiter Larry was such a lovely guy. Our favourite part of the meal was the sizeable cheeseboard we shared for dessert.
After a morning breakfast of local sausages and bacon for me, and cockles for Tom, we were in the car and off to our surf lesson with Gower Surf School.
Due to the ‘wave situation’ (it was a calm water kinda day), our meeting point was changed at the last minute from Caswell Bay five minutes away to Rhossili beach forty minutes.
However far from being disappointed, I was absolutely thrilled. Rhossili beach was recently named one of the best beaches in the world by Suitcase magazine and I wanted to see it for myself. And I can safely say we gasped when we parked up and peered over the edge of Rossili Down.
Wet suits on we made the steep climb down to the beach with our surfboards in tow. But while the walk up and down was a bit of a struggle, the two hours of fun we had in the sea was well worth it. Milly from the surf school was brilliant and incredibly patient as she helped me attempt to stand up on my board.
Then with rumbling tums, we headed off the beach and straight to Llanrhidian, for a gorgeous pub lunch at Welcome to Town. They claimed to have ‘special batter’ for their fish and they certainly did – it was absolutely delicious alongside their triple-cooked chips.
We then made a pitstop at the the ancient church of St Rhidian and St Illytd which houses a 9th century Viking carved stone, before enjoying a 3.5km walk.
Luckily, if you head to the Visit Swansea Bay website you can find a whole host of walking routes available, which was ideal for us!
After a later afternoon nap (god, we’re old), we headed to Verdi’s, a family-owned pasta, pizza and gelato café that was packed full of people, and dogs. Cheap in price, not in flavour and you could tell that the restaurant was a hub of socialising for the Mumbles community. We finished our day off in The Pilot pub which brews it’s own local Mumbles beer.
After breakfast, which included rhubarb fool that Grace had grown herself and honey from their own hive, we packed the car up and headed for a long walk from Bracelet Bay to Rotherslade.
We also had a guided tour of Oystermouth Castle, a Norman stone castle on the hilltop overlooking Swansea Bay (note: this is only open for six months of the year to visitors). We were shown around by one of the fifty volunteers that help keep the magic of the castle alive. And with a few Welsh history facts and a couple of ghost stories under our belts we were ready for our last stop – the city of Swansea.
We parked up early in Swansea marina and went for a walk around their local market (I love a food market!). Purchasing a few homemade chutneys before lunch we headed to Grape & Olive, a restaurant on the top floor of Meridian Tower with gorgeous views over Swansea beach.
Then sadly it was them time to head home. With a good four hours of driving ahead of us we were sad at the prospect of leaving such a lovely place; which got me thinking… why are we all so desperate to flock to the shores of Southern Europe when we have such beauty on our doorstep?
I’m a full staycation convert after this.
Wales has had my heart for a long time, and I think it’s safe to say it’ll be holding on to it for a while.