The Gower Peninsula (Gŵyr) is a peninsula on the south coast of Wales, UK, on the north side of the Bristol Channel. Referred to colloquially as 'Gower', this was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. Gower was part of the ancient lordship of Gower, and today it is part of the City and County of Swansea.
Situated in south Wales, about 70 square miles in area, Gower is known for its coastline, popular with walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, especially surfers. Gower has many caves, including Paviland Cave and Minchin Hole Cave. The peninsula is bounded by the Loughor estuary to the north and Swansea Bay to the east. Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers 188 km² including most of the peninsula west of Crofty, Three Crosses, Upper Killay, Blackpill and Bishopston. The highest point on the Gower peninsula is The Beacon at Rhossili Down at 193m/633ft on Rhossili Bay.
The interior of Gower consists mainly of farmland and common land. The population resides mainly in small villages. The southern coast of the peninsula consists of a series of small, rocky or sandy bays like Langland and Three Cliffs, and a few larger beaches like Port Eynon, Rhossili and Oxwich Bay. On the north side of the peninsula there are fewer beaches, this section of the coast includes the famous cockle-beds of Penclawdd. There are six castles on the Gower peninsula: Bovehill Castle (also known as Landimore Castle), Oystermouth Castle, Oxwich Castle, Pennard Castle, Penrice Castle and Weobley Castle.
The former Lordship of Gower covered an area bounded by the rivers Loughor, Amman, Twrch and Tawe. The Act of Union (1535) transferred the Lordship of Gower to the historic county of Glamorgan, and the south-western part became the Hundred of Swansea. Following the Norman occupation of Glamorgan, the lordship of Gŵyr or Gower passed into English hands, and the southern part became one of the most anglicised regions of Wales. Villages in the north-east of the peninsula such as Penclawdd and Gowerton remained strongly Welsh-speaking until the middle of the 20th century.
In modern times, the Gower peninsula has been administered as the Gower Rural District of Glamorgan, which merged with the county borough of Swansea in 1974 to form the Swansea district. Since 1996, Gower has been part of the City and County of Swansea. Suburban development has made a number of communities in eastern Gower part of the Swansea Urban Area. Agriculture remains important to the area but tourism plays an increasing role in the local economy. Gower is part of the Swansea Travel to Work Area (see Economy of Swansea).
The peninsula has a Championship status golf course at Fairwood Park just off Fairwood Common, having twice held the Welsh PGA Championships in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the Gower Golf Club at Three Crosses hosts the West Wales Open, a two-day tournament on Wales' professional golf tour, the Dragon Tour. The village of Mumbles set the scene for a six part drama ‘Ennals Point’ featuring Welsh actor Philip Madoc. The series focused on the local lifeboat crew and first aired in January 1982. To those living locally, the continuity leaps were often amusing - departing a house in the village the actors would find themselves immediately in an area 6 miles distant. A film, Gower Boy, made by artist Gee Vaucher and musician Huw Warren, described as a "gentle, contemplative exploration of the Gower peninsula in Wales", debuted at the 14th Raindance Film Festival in October 2006 The village of Rhossili appeared as a location in the 2006 Doctor Who episode "New Earth". In the episode, Worm's Head could be seen.
The villages in Gower include:
The aim of the Green Coast Award is: ‘To acknowledge those beaches which meet Guideline water quality and are prized for their natural, unspoiled environment.” The beaches that have this award on the Gower peninsula are :
Surfing and watersports