Rhossili Bay is in a part of South Wales known as the Gower Peninsula. The peninsula is part of a larger county called Swansea (pronounced SWANzee). There’s also a city called Swansea that’s the major transport hub for the area. My bed and breakfast was in the village of Mumbles. It gets a bit confusing, so here’s a screen grab of the area, courtesy of Google maps:
Rhossili Bay was voted the 3rd best beach in Europe, and the 9th best in the world. Rhossili is also home to Worm’s Head Island, named for its shape resembling a giant sea serpent. Pedestrians can only access Worm’s Head at certain times of the day when the tide is low and the path to the island emerges from the water. The tide times are posted each day, and people have been stranded on the island because they didn’t heed the warnings!
Here’s the island at high tide … and later when the water starts to lower:
The bus journey (there’s no train option) from Mumbles to Rhossili takes about 1.5 hours, and I wanted to get an early start. There’s no direct bus from Mumbles, so I had to head into Swansea first. From there, it’s a 60 minute ride to Rhossili Bay.
Before that, though, I wanted to stop in a Mumbles cafe. During my walk there, the sky was clear and sunny. This will be important to remember later.
The cafe was tucked inside a passage away from the street. It was really crowded, but there was one small, empty table that I quickly grabbed. There were two men sitting at the next table, and my best guess is that they were ages 72 and 60.
Since we were in Wales, it was only a matter of time before we all started talking!
Both were natives of the area, but the older gentleman had lived/worked for 20 years in Colorado Springs. He said he’d loved it there and that it was very beautiful. They asked me about my plans and why I’d chosen to visit Wales. I told them a bit about my adventure and also mentioned that I was visiting Rhossili that day. They asked me how I was getting there, and I said by bus. The older man, now retired, said that he didn’t have anything planned for the day and would be very happy to drive me to Rhossili himself. I thanked him, but said that getting there on my own was part of the adventure. In hindsight, I’m happy I took the bus, but part of me will always wish I had taken him up on that offer. I’m sure that would’ve been an adventure too!
Anyway … when it was time to go, I left the coffee shop to make my way back to the street. That’s when I saw that it was raining pretty hard. I had a bus to catch, so I started the five minute walk to the bus stop. In that five minutes, it went from rain, to sleet, to hail … and then the sun started coming out again. The weather in Wales is even crazier than it was in Ireland!
After riding into Swansea, I switched to the hour-long bus to Rhossili. It was such a fun ride. The bus driver was a talker, and he seemed to know everyone who boarded … including a woman whose dog rode on her shoulders the entire time:
Unlike the incredibly narrow roads in the Irish countryside, the road to Rhossili was two-lane traffic most of the way — except for several old stone bridges that were only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. More than once, a driver had to back up so another person could cross. Even on the regular roads, despite having two lanes, there were still some tight squeezes:
Eventually, I was the only one left on the bus to Rhossili. There were no fences between the road and the fields that were full of sheep, cows and wild horses. It was incredibly beautiful, and the driver pulled over a few times so I could admire the view.
When he dropped me off at the Rhossli Bay stop, the sun was shining, but it was cold and extremely windy. Luckily, there was a National Trust shop that stocked (among other things) knit hats. I bought one for 5 pounds. I don’t know what I would’ve done without it.
I spent the next couple of hours walking along the cliffs and down to the beach. The tide for Worm’s Head wasn’t going to be low enough to cross until around 2:45 p.m., so that gave me plenty of time to explore. There were sheep everywhere and so many little lambs! There were no barriers between visitors and the sheep, but people kept a respectful distance. Whenever a lamb got scared by a passing dog or person, it would hurry to its mom and start to nurse.
Here’s a video from the beach level. If you look closely, you’ll see some white sheep dotting the edge of the cliff!
When it was finally time to cross over to Worm’s Head, I made my way down the steep hill to get to the rocks revealed by the low tide. Just getting down the hill took 20 minutes, and the terrain was much rougher and rockier than I had anticipated. In fact, I realized pretty quickly that there was no way I would be able to hike all the way out to the island. The flexible soles of my boots have been perfect for walking … but terrible on those rough rocks. I felt every sharp stone. I’m also pretty clumsy, and I was having trouble maintaining any sense of balance. I hated turning back, but I didn’t feel comfortable going any further. This is as far as I got.
But things ended on a much brighter note. When I caught the bus back to Swansea, it was just me and the driver for a big part of the ride. It was like having my own private tour guide. He continually pointed out things he thought I’d enjoy (which I did, of course), and he proudly told me that, when his bus had broken down the day before, he’d been able to get his passengers on another bus within 15 minutes. He was so gregarious and genuine. He said: I’m a Gower boy, born and bred.
Everyone I met who’d been raised on the Gower Peninsula was extremely proud of their home, and I could see why. The bar for beauty keeps getting raised, and Gower has been my most beautiful destination to date.
Below are some photos from my day at Rhossili Bay. Try to spot all the sheep!