WATER­FALL WALK

Countryfile Magazine - - Adam Henson -

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.

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