About the Gower

‘Gower is a land set apart from the rest of South Wales. It is a peninsula heading out into the Bristol Channel owing allegiance to neither east nor west Wales. And yet it is a region of contrasts, boasting much of the topographical diversity of Wales in miniature’. Diane Williams, Gower.

Gower is a unique location separated from the rest of Wales by the sprawling city of Swansea but contrasting in its open commons and spectacular beaches. Nowhere else can such a variety of habitats be accessed just five miles from the motorway. Gower’s diverse array of environments were recognised when it was designated the first Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) in 1956. Since then Gower has remained unspoilt and provides the focus of visitors and educators alike.

Being an enclosed peninsula surrounded by the Bristol Channel and Atlantic Ocean Gower has become a haven for some of the richest wildlife in the UK. Within the 32 miles of coastline lies no less that twenty-five beaches ranging from dramatic craggy limestone cliffs to vast swathes of golden sand. These all provide varied habitats for marine animals within rock-pools, mudflats and nesting sites for seafaring birds. Further inland lies more managed habitats such as the commons, which are vital in supporting rare butterflies such as the Marsh Fritillary. A number of woodlands have public access and provide a great resource for natural history studies as well as more challenging activities.


The main sites on Gower which provide ideal locations for undertaking field work are:

Port Eynon Beach

Grid Ref SS 475855

Port Eynon offers an excellent site for rocky shore and stand-line studies. Also the limestone geology and fossils are well exposed. Historical features such as the Salthouse provide interesting associations with local pirate legends.

Ryer’s Down

Grid Ref SS 449923

Ryer’s Down is part of the Gower Commons. The site includes ponds in different states of repair with one good for pond dipping. A little wooded area provides a good site for tree beating for invertebrates and the hill has many historical remains such as Medieval longhouses and Celtic hut platforms.

Bishop’s Wood Local Nature Reserve

Grid Ref SS 594877

Oak Ash woodland, parts of which are described as ancient woodland, and limestone cliff grassland. Interesting species include bluebells, wild garlic and herb Paris. An outdoor roundhouse has been built along a wheelchair accessible path and can accommodate 50 children.

Gelli Hir Nature Reserve

Grid Ref SS 562925

Gelli Hir is predominately mixed broadleaf woodland ranging from oak/birch woodland to drier ask/elm woodland. Part of the site is ancient woodland. The variety of habitat types include open rides, streams and a pond. Dead wood supports an abundance of fungi and invertebrates.

Crymlyn Bog NNR

Grid Ref SS 685 942

Crymlyn Bog is the most extensive lowland fen in Wales; and this is all the more remarkable because this fascinating nature reserve is surrounded by a dense industrial landscape. The bog lies on the eastern edge of Swansea, where it rests in a large depression gouged out during the last ice-age. Because this type of bog is of such importance, and because of the incredible range of wildlife it plays host to, the reserve has a number of designations at hand to protect it. The habitats available to visit and explore are; fen or bog, wet woodland, reed bed and grassland. There is also a large pond dipping pond full of life. The Reserve boasts a classroom at its centre as well as facilities; toilets and kitchen area.

Pant Y Sais Fen

Grid Ref SS 711 945

A smaller wetland site near the village of Jersey Marine - Pant y Sais Fen - shares many similarities with the nearby Crymlyn Bog and this forms part of the same National Nature Reserve. A circular boardwalk takes you through the reed bed and beside the Port Tennant canal.

Ilston Valley

Grid Ref SS 556904

Ilston valley provides a perfect place to study river processes and features. The limestone valley contains swallow holes, meanders and flood prevention measures. The stream is also home to a good variety of invertebrates with a number of safe sites to undertake river study investigations.

Oxwich Burrows, Beach and Rock pools

Grid Ref SS 501864

A good site for habitat comparison, adaptation studies, succession and zonation, as well as management issues. The site includes dune habitats, slacks, freshwater marsh, salt marsh, woodland and rock pools.