The sun finally came out at the end of the weekend, and what a difference it made to the rain soaked weekend. Rhossili Bay has been voted as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the world, and when the sun shines as it did today you can really understand why.
The views along the beach are fantastic. 5 miles of sand with the Worms. Head at one end and Burry Holmes at the other. Both are cut off from the main land at high tide. The beach is so long and wide that it always seems empty despite the number of people that crowd small areas.
Historically named ‘Wurm’ meaning ‘dragon’ by Viking invaders, the promontory, Worm’s Head, is shaped like a giant sea-serpent and marks the most westerly tip of Gower. The island is joined to the mainland by a rocky causeway and features an large flat-topped ‘Inner Head’, towards a natural rock bridge called ‘Devil’s Bridge’, a ‘Low Neck’ leading further out to the ‘Outer Head’. The headland is one mile long and the highest point is approximately 150 feet.
We walked along a path that took us above the beach along the foot of Rhossili Downs. The views were ever changing, but also gave me plenty of wild life watching opportunities. I couldn’t resist a photo of this lichen covered rock and navalwort with the Worms Head behind.
We also came across a rather battered Wall. Brown butterfly basking on the path.
The northern end of the beach culminates in Burry Holmes, another tidal island. There is evidence that this has been used since Mesolithic times. Now it is an idyllic spot to watch waves. But the exciting find for me was a pair of mating Green Tiger Beetles.
From here we walked back to the car along the ridge high above the bay. This is the highest point on the Gower, and is full of history. The Guardian has place this walk in the Top 10 of UK walks – http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2010/aug/27/top-10-uk-walks-rhossili-beach-wales. And we agree. Along the ridge top the views all around the compass points are vast.
Along with many ridge lines in Wales Rhossili Downs have been used as burial places during the past. Sweyne’s Howes are simple burial cairns dating from the Bronze Age. There’s not much left to see, but they must have provided a clear focus point right on the ridge, with a statement of this is our place!
Their current name comes from legends That suggests that the rather Scandinavian name of these burial chambers is after the supposed founder of Swansea, Sweyne Forkbeard, (Svend Tveskæg) King of Denmark and sometime king of England 1013-14. Swansea is first mentioned as “Sweynesse” in a 12th century charter. The Welsh name for the city is quite different and sensibly refers to the mouth of the river (Abertawe).
A great end to a great walk rewarded us with the best view of the Worms Head in the evening sun.