The village of Rhossili at the western extremity of the Peninsula offers two of the most spectacular views of Gower. Looking westwards from the Worm’s Head hotel lies the serpent shaped headland of Worm’s Head or ‘The Worm’ as it is known locally. Looking north from the village the dramatic expanse of Rhossili Bay offers a view spectacular enough to hold the attention of those who return time and time again to this destination – popular both with tourists and the city dwellers of nearby Swansea.
Worm’s Head - Penrhyn-gwyr lies a breezy 2km west of the spacious car park at Rhossili. Although the car park is often abundant with vehicles, including coaches which bear testimony to the popularity of the area the rugged coastline seems to comfortably absorb its many admiring visitors so even on a busy Bank Holiday the majesty of Nature suitably eclipses both man and the man made.
If you intend to walk to The Worm it is important to time your visit to coincide with Low Tide as the Worm becomes an island at high tide! For about two hours either side of low tide the Shipway (the channel linking the Worm to the mainland) is accessible and it is possible to walk to the Worm. The old coastguard hut on the headland displays the tide times. Dylan Thomas was once forced to spend a night on The Worm having been stranded after a daytime visit and found it one of his scarier experiences, so ensure you allow yourself time to enjoy the return on foot!
The National Trust shop is to the left of the path at the start of the walk but a visit on the return is perhaps a better idea as you are sure to want to warm up after the bracing sea breezes as well as make a selection of purchases!
The first section is the Inner Head of the Worm easily accessible for all who can clamber the rocks on the Shipway. Farmers use to keep their sheep on this section and it is said that the sea wind blown grass produces particularly tender meat. The next section is the Middle Head which requires a certain degree of courage as there is a steep drop to the right- although the views over Rhossili Bay are said to be spectacular I have yet to get that far!
A natural arch of limestone named Devil’s Bridge connects to the Outer Head which is a wild place noisy with the cawing of seagulls and sea spraying into the Blow Hole. At the extremity lies a bone cave which should only be tackled by experienced climbers.
The village itself provides some interesting places for tourists to visit. As well as the National Trust shop on the cliff path there is the Worms Head Hotel and restaurant, a Bistro/coffee shop, a small but original art gallery featuring paintings and jewellery by local artisans, a gift shop and St Mary’s church.
Worm's Head Hotel
St Mary’s church has a small car park (donation box provided) for its visitors. It is worthy of a visit both for architectural and historical reasons.
It is thought to have been built by Norman settlers around AD1200 and despite being renovated during the nineteenth century much of the original architecture remains. Of particular interest is the carved archway around the door of the church and the saddle back tower.
The church houses a memorial plaque to that most famous of Rhossili men Petty Officer Edgar Evans who along will all other members of Captain Scott’s 1912 expedition lost his life on their return journey from the South Pole in.
The grand sweep of Rhossili Bay with the backdrop of gorse covered Rhossili Down (the highest point in Gower at 193 metres above sea level) culminates in the north with the small tidal island of Bury Holms.
It is possible to walk to the grassy island at low tide (again checking tide times to ensure a day time return!) and see the ruins of a twelfth century church.
The path along the bottom of Rhossili down hugs the Bay passing the Old Rectory on its way to Llangenith. The Vicar was responsible for the both parishes and used to travel on horseback between the two.
At low tide part of the wreck of the Norwegian ship the Helvetia is visible. It ran aground in 1887 and still lies there today.
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