Three Cliffs Bay and Foxhole Walk

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Three Cliffs Bay and Foxhole Walk

A lovely costal walk visiting some beautifully secluded bays, and passing by some of Gower’s most important bone caves. I would recommend a stop at either the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop or Maddocks for a great lunch.

For those of you not staying with us, you are welcome to use this walk but as there are no rights of way through the grounds, please see the note and the diversion map on the walks page to help you circumnavigate.

Distance covered: 4.5 miles
Average time: 2 hours
Terrain: Easy underfoot but a couple of climbs up onto the headlands.

Directions & Gallery

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Directions from the B&B:

Walk out of the front door of the house and turn right, then across the grassy field until you reach the track at the far end. Follow the track, passing the trout ponds on your right and valley gardens on your left. Immediately after this there is a crossroads – take the track straight on between the fields and through the woods.

At the woodlands end you will cross a style next to a gate, here the track will bear left taking you past a small pink cottage end on to the road and then through a grassy car park. When you reach the tarmac lane turn left over the cattle grid. Look out for Penmaen church on your right.

Now cross the main road and continue for 100m down the lane, take the first and only right turn. Follow the road until you find yourself at the lookout above Three Cliffs Bay.

Follow the track down to the river, cross the stepping stones and follow the storm beach to the other side of the valley. Look for a path to take you up back on to the cliff top on the edge of Pennard golf course and then bear right and follow the coast around.

If you keep to the coast you will have the opportunity to follow walk along the neck of Three Cliffs - well worth a detour especially if the tide is in. The next bay you will pass is Pobbles, before climbing back up to the coastal path and following the cliff edge past Foxhole. At this point you will see a National Trust car park and on the roundabout next to it there is the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop - a great place to stop for lunch or buy some snacks.

When you have finished your lunch and if you are feeling suitably restored it is worth considering walking a little further along the coast as a little way further is Hunts Bay and down below the cliff top only about 600m from the coffee shop there is Minchin hole bone caves. Be careful if you decide to go down to the cave it is this is a real dangerous scramble but it is also probably the reason that the cave is in such pristine condition today.

The cave has been excavated on a number of occasions in the past; the first of which took place in the mid nineteenth century. The many artefacts now lie in Swansea Museum include the remains of a straight-tusked elephant, bison, soft-nosed rhinoceros, cave bear, reindeer, wolf and hyena.

Along with the animal remains which indicate residence in the upper Palaeolithic period evidence of later occupation in the form of pottery (pots, dishes, boles, spindle whorls, combs, bronze brooches and a number of coins indicate that the cave was still in use during the Romano-British occupation and later in the Dark Ages.

Now follow the path back along the coast towards Three Cliffs Bay.

On your way, if you keep your eyes peeled you may spot a quite insignificant looking but very rare plant known as yellow whitlowgrass (Draba aizoides.) It only grows about 2 inches high and carries yellow flowers in late winter to mid spring. A member of the Brassicaceae family, the plant is widely distributed in continental Europe this is the only place in the UK where it can be found.

When you reach Pobbles bay you have a choice - you can ether follow the path back around the coast and follow the top of the valley back to Pennard Castle, or you can follow the path up the valley from the top of Pobbles beach until you find a signposted footpath directing you left across Pennard golf course to the castle.

Pennard Castle, originally a possession of Henry de Beaumont, was established in the 12th century probably as a ringwork castle. The stone castle we see today was likely constructed in the late 13th or early 14th century and the work of the De Breos family. The castle and surrounding village were abandoned by 1400 though the church (St. Marys) continued in use until 1532 when it finally succumbed to the encroaching sand - the sand blew in from the beaches and choked the agricultural land. Records note that tithes (taxes) were lowered to help the struggling farmers survive.

With regard to the be-sanding, though a geographer may have an alternative explanation, the truth is that many hundreds of years ago there was warlike chieftain called Prince Rhys ap Iestyn who once lived in the castle. He had won the hand of a prince’s daughter as reward for his battle exploits. A great feast was prepared to celebrate the forthcoming marriage. However the celebrations were disturbed by strange noises coming from magical lights dancing at a grassy area on the other side of the valley. Rhys ordered some of his men to discover the cause of the commotion. The men returned and said “Sire, ’tis the Tylwyth Teg (the fairies of welsh folklore) feasting and dancing. Rhys was so annoyed that the Tylwyth Teg would interfering with his celebrations that he summoned his men to attack them. Everybody begged him not to interfere as they knew the Tylwyth Teg wore not to be medlled with, but Rhys - too drunk to think rationally - bragged, “I have nothing to fear from the little people!” The chieftain and his men ran down to the grassy area and attacked the Tylwyth Teg, who (as everyone knows!) can only be seen but not touched. Nonetheless they were not very pleased that the chieftain had spoiled their innocent fun and so cursed the chieftain, sending a storm of unimaginable proportions to bury the castle under the deep sands.

Follow the valley floor over the river walkway and cross the small stream which emerges from holy well beneath the castle, its said to have curative properties!

The path will follow the river into the woods and eventually you will find a bridge to cross the river at Parkmill. Bear left across the main road and follow the lane immediately in front of Shepherds shop until you reach the ford. Cross the stream on the footbridge and then follow the lane back up to Parc-Le-Breos.