Explore the often forgotten about north side of Gower. The walk skirts the salt marsh before following the forested sand spit out to the famous Victorian lighthouse. One of the best walks out there in terms of scenery, wildlife and bird watching - one of my personal favourites.
Distance covered: 4.5 miles Average time: 2.5 hours Terrain: Easy underfoot.
Directions & Gallery
Parking is in Llanmadoc - drive through the village and bear right when you see the church. Shortly after this you will see a field gateway and car park sign on your right - this is Whitford beach car park. There is an honesty box on the right hand side as you drive in.
Walk out of the car park and turn left up the hill, bear left at the fork in the road and follow the lane back through the village for a few hundred metres. On your left you will see a footpath sign directing you down through Frogmore Lane nature reserve.
Follow the path until you emerge from the woodland and meet the path down on the marsh. Follow the path to the left, skirting the edge of the woodland. When you pass through the last kissing gate, take the path to the right out over the causeway. The path follows the top of the earthwork dyke known locally as 'the Groose'. It a great place - take in the view across the salt marshes, famous for sweet tasting salt marsh lamb raised here in the spring, and if the time of year is right you will likely see migrating ducks, geese and many wading birds. In short, a birdwatchers paradise.
At the end of the Groose, pass through the gate and turn right following the track north out across the sand dunes and into the pine forest. All the tracks will take you out to the north of the spit and the famous Victorian lighthouse standing at the low water mark.
The lighthouse is the only operational cast iron lighthouse to actually stand in the sea on the British coast. It was built in 1865 to safeguard the increased trade in and out of Llanelli and Burry Port. The 61ft high structure is constructed from heavy cast iron plates which bolt together to form 7 rings, which in turn are bolted together using internal & external flanges. Further cast iron strengthening bands were added a later date. The light was extinguished in 1933, and more recently in 1982 a solar powered light was installed. The presence of the lighthouse didn’t put an end to the shipwrecks at the point - in 1868 nineteen sailing vessels were towed out of the estuary by steam tugs to begin their journeys, however soon after they set sail the wind died and 16 of the ships drifted into the point and were wrecked during the night on the sands. The daylight brought scenes of carnage with wrecked boats and bodies littering the coast to Burry Holms. Interestingly, although the folk of the village of Llanmadoc were oblivious to the disaster unfolding on the coast below, there is an account by the reverend J. D. Davies of a ghost which was seen in the church grounds that night disturbing the evenings Choir practice. Many of the locals believed that it was the soul of one of the unfortunate sailors.
For the return leg of the walk, follow the two miles of sweeping sand back towards the hill above Broughton bay. When you meet the cliffs of Hills Tor, turn left across the dunes and follow the valley until you find yourself on a track which rises up the hill emerging in the village of Cwm Ivy. At the top of the hill, pass through the gate then bear left and follow the road until you see the car park on you left.
If you have time to spare, Llanmadoc church at the top of the hill is worthy of a visit. The building's origins can be traced back to the 13th century, though much of what meets the eye today dates to a very extensive renovation of the church in 1865. The reverend J. D. Davies was rector of Llanmadoc and Cheriton from 1860 to 1911 and famously wrote a book, “A History of west Gower” referred to by many as “the Gower Bible.” The extensive work documents much of the history, customs and folklore of the area, and may be found for viewing in the reference library in Swansea. The Reverend was also a skilled carpenter - he personally carved the oak alter found within the church and also built the beautiful Swiss styled rectory across the road, inspired by a holiday to Switzerland.
Parc Le Breos House