Verdant riverbanks rich with wildlife line the River Llan, home to kingfishers
Penllergare waterfall, built in the 19th century with vast masonry blocks It’s about 25 miles around the peninsula and, should you walk it (camping on the way), my journey would take four or five days, depending on how often you stop to admire the view. Our route begins at the doorstep of Gower, at the magical forest waterfall at Penllergare near the M4, before heading along much smaller arteries to the raised spine of the peninsula. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing the landscape with sheep, cattle and wild horses; much of Gower is common land, which means local farms use this landscape for grazing. From the high ground, we’ll turn north to its wildlife-rich tidal river estuary where the River Loughor meets the sea. Wales is known for its Norman castles, and there are plenty of them here, as well as an iron lighthouse dating back to 1865. We’ll visit those 14th-century and Victorian constructions, before turning south along Llangennith beach and Rhossili Bay, both battered by Atlantic swell and a magnet for surfers all year round. There are calmer beaches on the Peninsula’s south side, and the trip ends with an ice cream at Mumbles, overlooking Swansea Bay and its lifeboat station. For most people, coastal Wales means beaches, but there’s a freshwater hinterland with its own identity hiding in the forests. And that’s where we’ll start, at the peninsula’s entrance, Penllergare Valley Woods. This hidden gem is a stone’s throw from the M4, but seems a million miles from the motorway. You can get close enough to the waterfall’s torrent of water to feel the spray on your face and breath in the watercleansed air. From here, you can explore the recently restored windy paths and trails through the woods and over the stone-arched Llewelyn Bridge, named after philanthropist John Dillwyn Llewelyn, who created the park in the early 19th century. Though it looks old, the bridge was only built a few years ago – there was originally a mansion here, but almost a century of neglect has erased it. The River Llan is made of sterner stuff, and is home to a rich local wildlife, from kingfishers to trout.