There really is nothing like feeling the white, soft sand between your toes as you soak up the sunshine (if you’re lucky) and rolling up your trouser legs as you brave the cold water for a quick dip in the sea.
Britain is home to an abundance of spectacular beaches that adorn the coastline like jewels in the crown, and it’s no wonder that ‘staycations’ and visits to Britain’s beaches are back in fashion.
Whether you’re visiting Cornwall or the outer Hebrides, you are bound to find a beach that will literally take your breath away.
Every year journalists compile lists of the UK’s best, hidden or popular beaches but is it really possible to find ‘Britain’s best beach’?
One of the main contenders would be Rhossili Bay, on the Gower Coast in Wales.
Winner of many awards, including being voted TripAdvisor’s best British beach 2 years in a row (as well as 9th best beach in the world), this Welsh beauty has been attracting visitors long before journalists and websites put it firmly on the map.
It’s also featured in TV shows including Doctor Who, and the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony video.
About a 35 minute drive from the city of Swansea, and situated in the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty, is this stunning beach that stretches for over 3 miles.
As you enter the small, quaint village of Rhossili, and drive down the narrow winding road towards the car park, you suddenly spot this jewel in Wales’ crown as it stretches out in front of you – and boy, does it leave you breathless!
Head onto the sand
The golden white sands are popular with walkers and beach-goers alike and surfers flock to this little slice of paradise thanks to the Atlantic swell.
Seals, dolphins and even a few shipwrecks call this coastline home, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Arriving at the National Trust car park, the first thing to take your breath away is the sheer enormity of this stretch of sand, and the dominating wild landscape surrounding it.
A stunning little white cottage is the only man-made dot visible on the horizon, which if walls could talk would tell ghostly tales of smuggling, storms, and shipwrecks.
Head down onto the sands and you will feel a wonderful (if not slightly overpowering!) brisk breeze as you make your way towards the sea.
Careful where you walk though – you might be lucky to stumble across the Helvetia, a boat carrying oak that ran aground in 1887 after a tretcherous storm. The remains have been here ever since, but as years pass the sea continues to reclaim what is left of the vessel. Locals predict that it won’t be long until the last of the Helvetia is washed away for good.
But it’s not just the beach that draws crowds and wins awards. Head off the sandy beach and visit the spectacular cliffs of Rhossili headland, leading to the famous Worm’s head, an island that is the most westerly of the Gower Coast, and is joined to the mainland by a causeway that can only be crossed for a few short hours each day.
There have been plenty of stories of visitors getting stranded on Worm’s Head – even overnight – until the tide turns, with fierce warnings in place to anyone who attempts to make their way back. It was also a much-loved destination for the famous poet Dylan Thomas, who is said to have become stranded on the island one evening after falling asleep.
The incredible 1 mile walk is accessible by walking up the steps from the beach towards the cafes and car park. Once through the gate you will spot an array of birds and sheep – who graze happily on precarious cliff side edges. If you go during the spring, you might even be lucky to see the lambs bounce around as they chase after each other in the shrubs.
As you walk further up the path towards Worm’s Head the beach really does take your breath away, as you watch the rolling waves and rugged landscape come into view.
Be prepared for all the elements, though. It can get incredibly windy, even with the sun out it can feel slightly chilly, and walking shoes are recommended.
As you approach the coast guards hut at the end of the causeway, take a seat on the edge of the ridge and soak up the view of Worm’s Head and the waters below. It leaves you feeling like you’re a million miles away from civilization, and the sea glistening below adds to the feeling of life on an abandoned island.
If you do fancy the walk across to Worm’s Head, it will take you around 10/15 minutes to head down to the causeway and scramble across the rocks. But don’t forget to take heed of the tide times, unless you fancy a few dark hours living with with seals and migrating birds!
Once on Worm’s Head don’t forget to take in Rhossili Bay in the distance, and keep an eye out for the wildlife that call this beautiful island home.
Once back on dry land, warm yourself up with a hot drink and a bite to eat at The Worm’s Head, a hotel and restaurant that’s perched at the beginning of Rhossili Headland and commands spectacular views of the beach.
What did I think?
I absolutely loved Rhossili Bay and the surrounding Gower Coast. The fabulous drive from Swansea allowed us to take in quaint seaside resorts, rugged coastline and captivating hillsides and farmland.
Once arriving in Rhossili I was taken aback by the sheer beauty of the coastline and of course Rhossili headland and Worm’s Head.
The day started rather drab and grey, but as we slowly made our way to Rhossili, past stunning little villages and quaint little churches, the sun started to make an appearance and as if on cue broke out from behind the clouds as we drove into the village.
Parking is easy in the National Trust car park but beware that it can get very busy!
We stopped for lunch at the Bay Bistro and Coffee House, located right by the car park and entrance to the beach. If it’s sunny out, I can highly recommend sitting out on the picnic benches and enjoying a cream tea. The scones here are huge! Perfectly warmed and comes with fresh clotted cream and a choice of jams. Coupled with a cup of tea, nothing can really beat it while you soak up the view!
Once fuelled up and ready to go we explored the surrounding area, and the highlight for me was definitely Rhossili Headland, as it really gave you the opportunity to take in the beach and all its highlights! Do give yourself at least half an hour to walk up to Worm’s Head, and don’t forget to enjoy the view.
The village isn’t very big, but it has a small church perched overlooking the coast, a few shops and restaurants, a hotel, and an ice cream parlor. You can even learn to surf.
And my top tip? Stay for the sunset. You will not be disappointed!
One thing is for sure, I will be returning to this idyllic piece of Welsh paradise, and I might just have to bring a surf board with me next time…! Is this Britain’s best beach? Only you can decide, but if I were you, i’d be heading down as soon as you can!