Saturday, 23 April 2016

Gower and Swansea Bay short break

Rhossili Bay
One of the most beautiful places in the UK is located just an hour and a quarter’s drive from Cardiff. It’s a fact I always take for granted. Named the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty way back in 1956, the Gower’s rugged coastline, sweeping beaches and harsh moors are a sight to behold.

Three Cliffs Bay
So, when the good people at Visit Swansea Bay invited Mrs G and I on a mini break, our response was "Hell yeah".

Setting of from the 'Diff mid-Friday afternoon, we made a quick pitstop at the Selwyn’s Seaweed factory shop in Penclawdd on the Gower estuary. Originally known for their cockles and laverbread, Selwyn’s moved with the times by producing healthy and addictive nori-like seaweed snacks. This was to be the only healthy thing I ate all weekend…

Having dropped our bags off at the gorgeous Fairyhill, a 5 star AA award-winning restaurant with rooms located in the heart of the Gower, we headed out for an evening stroll at Three Cliffs Bay. 

With its hulking trio of limestone cliffs and Pennard Castle overlooking us, Three Cliffs Bay is pretty Game Of Thrones-esque.

Looking back to Pennard Castle from Three Cliffs Bay
Appetites worked up, we headed back to Fairyhill where we had a stonkingly good dinner packed with local produce. Highlights included seared and soused mackerel with cucumber and almonds, intense crab and chive linguine and tender Pembrokeshire duck (more to follow in a separate post).

Rising early with the sunshine the next morning, we somehow managed to find room for Fairyhill’s kick ass full Welsh breakfast served with a uniquely delicious oat and laverbread cake. Hot pikelets (Welsh dropscones) served with a good drizzle of runny honey and squeeze of lemon juice were also gorgeous.

Our first pitstop of the day was Worms's Head and Rhossili Bay, probably my favourite beach in the world. I’m not alone as it was named Britain’s Best Beach by Tripadvisor voters for two years running. 

Worm's Head
Arriving early meant we had the place pretty much to ourselves except for a handful of sheep and their offspring.

Driving back towards Swansea, we headed to Mumbles where we took in views of the seaside resort (Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have a home there don't cha know) from the battlements of the impressive 12th century Oystermouth Castle.

Hungry once again (when am I not?), we took a load off at Verdi’s Italian Cafe on the seafront where an uber-busy lunchtime service was comfortably dealt with by the rapid serving team. A quattro stagioni pizza (£9.75) oozing with mozzarella and a light caprese salad (£6.95) were very good but a pair of ice cream sundaes were historic. 

For me a toffee chip crunch (£5.40) with creamy vanilla and toffee ice creams, crunchy toffee pieces and a hot caramel sauce and for Mrs G super-smooth lemon sorbet (£4.80) with a sprightly raspberry compote.

With more than enough calories on board, we wandered around Mumbles Head to the picturesque Bracelet Bay where we soaked up the sunshine.

In the evening we headed back to the Gower for dinner, this time to The King's Head in Llangennith with views looking down to the sea. Owned by the excellent Gower Brewery, we enjoyed pints of the easy drinking Gower Gold and a mostly very good meal.

A starter of mussels (£7.95) were bathed in a lush sauce of garlic, cream and white wine. For mains a tender slow-cooked Gower lamb shank (£16.50) was served in a cawl like broth with buttery mash whilst a disappointing piece of pork belly (£12.95) was under-rendered and served with an odd combination of sweet berry sauce, carrot puree and crispy squid.

It was worth the trip alone for the corking cheeseboard (£7.95) which included a greatest-hits of Welsh cheese - creamy brie-like Perl Wen, potent Black Bomber, crumbly Gorwydd Caerphilly, buttery Golden Cenarth and more were accompanied by excellent homemade onion chutney. 

On Sunday morning we wandered around Swansea Marina and had a quick look at the National Waterfront Museum which tells the story of Welsh industry and the low-key Swansea museum with its nifty Egyptian mummy.

Our final port of call before heading back to Cardiff was the stunning Margam Park with its Abbey ruins, Gothic mansion, 18th-century Orangery and ridiculously cute farm animals.

We had a lush staycation in Swansea Bay and the Gower. With its stunning coastline, first-rate accommodation and great local produce, I've resolved to visit more often than my three trips in the last seven years.

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest of Visit Swansea Bay - accommodation and meals at Fairyhill, Verdi's and The King's Head were complimentary. 

The Details - 


  1. Just think , if the cretins who ran the Council had not been so keen to scrap the Mumbles Railway then Visit Swansea Bay would not have to resort to this sort of publicity . However having followed your helpful reviews for a while thank you again , you may be interested too or already may know the owners of the Grove are taking over the badly run Coalhouse in Oxwich Bay , lovely building poor service and consistency . Hopefully would be worth a visit .

    One final note of yet more Council vandalism , City and County of Swansea are setting about dismantling their excellent School music service , nothing ever changes.

    1. @s009159 - Thanks for sharing your views and I'm glad you like the blog. I'd heard the Grove are taking over the Coalhouse - I look forward to trying it.

  2. Bit of an update , Fairy Hill has been taken over and turned into just a wedding venue with the trad country interior transformed into quite something else .