Rhossili Bay and Headland Walk
This walk takes you along the stunning beach at Rhossili, returning over The Beacon and around the headland.
|10.31 km||299 m||2 hours 30 minutes|
Activivity Type: Easy Moderate Walk
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Summits and Places on this Route
The Lookout café in Rhossili serves great locally roasted coffee and homemade cakes, pizzas, ice cream and paninis. The Bay Bistro offers salad, stir fries and seafood as well as a wide range of cakes and drinks. Dylan’s café in Hillend, opens seasonally.
There are toilets in the car park and a National Trust gift shop selling maps.
Rhossili Bunkhouse and Pitton Cross Campsite for accommodation.
Very steep, unfenced cliffs. Unstable cliffs, liable to falls, so keep well back from the edge and bases. High tidal range, with very few exits from the beach in some places, risk of getting cut off. The path can get muddy and slippery in sections. Livestock (including cattle) may be grazing in the area. Dogs should be kept on a lead on the clifftops. Traffic in the car park and on the very small section of road in the village. In an emergency call 999 and ask for Coastguard.
Parking : SA3 1PR
Plenty of parking available in the National Trust car park at Rhossili (pay & display).
Closest train station is Swansea. The 118 bus runs from Swansea bus station, a 15 minute walk from the train station, out to Rhossili, taking about an hour.
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Rhossili Bay and Headland Walk
Set at the far western edge of the Gower Peninsula – Britain’s first designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, Rhossili Bay is a three mile expanse of golden sand backed by dunes and high downs bejewelled with ancient historic sites and tales of Vikings. This figure-of-eight route first follows the shore of the bay itself to view the Helvetia shipwreck partially submerged in the sand, before heading through the sand dunes and up onto the top of Rhossili Down, for panoramic views of the entire Gower Peninsula and across to the Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire coastlines. Arrive back in Rhossili village for lunch, then set out to explore the headland overlooking Worm’s Head in the afternoon to make this a great day out.
1 Rhossili Village to Rhossili beach
The walk is best begun as the tide is going out or at low tide, so that you don’t risk getting cut off before you exit the beach. However, there is an alternative route along the official Wales Coast Path which runs at the foot of Rhossili Down, but above the high tide line.
From the entrance of the National Trust car park look for a small unceremonious passageway alongside the Worms Head Hotel. Follow it around the side of the building to a gate onto the open access land. Be prepared to be blown away by the postcard view over the bay below as you come through the gate! Follow the steps steeply down to another gate, where you can turn inland to join the high tide route if necessary. Otherwise, turn left here following the path downhill all the way to the beach itself.
2 Rhossili beach to Hillend
As you reach the sand, you should be able to see the skeletal remains of the Helvetia ship sticking out of the sand. All that remains of this wood carrying cargo ship from the 19th Century are the ribs, the rest having been salvaged or washed away by the tides over the years since. From here walk along the beach with the sea on your left, and as you reach the end of the down and the holiday park at the foot of the hill look for a path into the dunes with a partial boardwalk, marked by a finger post. This path will bring you out into the beach car park next to Hillend campsite. Make your way along the road towards the café at the top then look for the exit of the car park, where there is a small office building and usually someone selling parking tickets. There are toilets and water refill is possible here in season.
3 Hillend to Rhossili Down Beacon
At the exit cross the road and go through the gate at the foot of the hill, with fingerposts to sign the way. There is a fairly well worn path up the very steep slope which takes you all the way up and onto the ridge of the Down. Stop to catch your breath and take in the incredible panorama. There are some amazing prehistoric sites here – look out for Sweyne’s Howes stone circles protruding from the bracken on the inland slope of the Down – two Neolithic burial chambers, named after the Viking war lord named Sweyn who apparently settled here some 2,000 years or so after they were constructed. From here if the weather is clear you’ll have incredible views. If you’re unlucky and the cloud comes in, be sure to keep the steepest ground to your right, and stick to the ridge of the all the way along to the beacon, where you’ll find a trig point, and the highest point of the day at 193m above sea level.
4 The Beacon to Rhossili village
From the Beacon you’ll begin to descend, gradually at first then more steeply. Follow the path down towards Rhossili Village, and resist veering inland which is quite easy to do here. The hill becomes very steep and muddy towards the bottom but you’ll reach an old barn near a gate. Go through the gate then follow the lane to the church. Take the path behind the church to cut out some of the road. You’ll come out next to the bus stop. Follow the road right back towards the car park.
5 Rhossili village to Fall Bay
In the far left hand corner of the car park near the entrance to the overflow parking field, you’ll find a gate onto a permissive path through the National Trust fields known as ‘The Vile’. They have been experimenting here with restoring the land back to the medieval strip farming system – in summer there are lavender and sunflower fields planted here which are beautiful to walk through. Follow the path along the edge of the fields and out on to a track. There are signs marking the way which makes this slightly zigzagging route across the fields easier to follow than it sounds! Turn right, walk along the track a short way then look for a gate on your left. Enter the field then turn left, then finally diagonally along the last field and out on to the coast path overlooking Fall Bay.
6 Fall Bay to the Lookout Station
Follow the stone walls high above Fall Bay out to the ridge-like edge of Tears Point. You’ll then switch directions heading north-west, again following the walls on your right, and then strike out when you can see the Lookout Station building. There is a fantastic view here over to Worm’s Head and the Officers are usually more than happy to have a chat and share some information about the area’s history and recent wildlife sightings.
7 Lookout Station to Rhossili village
The route back to Rhossili village from the Lookout Station is very simple, just follow the path along the clifftop north-east until you reach the wall which will take you all the way back to the car park. Half way along are the remains of some banks and ditches of an Iron Age coastal fort, worth a small detour out for one last view over Rhossili Bay and Down.
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