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2009 Holiday Guide for Swansea Bay, Mumbles, the Gower Peninsula and the Vale of Neath, south-west Wales, UK.


  • Serviced

    05 | Mumbles

    swansea bayMumbles, Gower, Afan and The Vale of Neath


    Swansea48 hours in swansea

    Beaches, parks and gardensoutdoor oscars

    Adrenalin sportson the waterfront

    For familieslive life


  • 01 |

    You mightnt have visited us before. But you probablyhave an image of Swansea Bay and its surroundings. It may include a bit of water, a grain or two of sand, the usual cityscape and not much else.

    Heres the real picture. Walesswaterfront city has a modernmaritime spirit and buzzy arts,foodie and shopping scene.Its next door to big (andsmall) sandy bays andbeaches. And it all comesneatly packaged. FromSwanseas sophisticatedMaritime Quarter its just a shorthop to Gowers inspirational landsend. Go the other way and youll soonget lost amongst woods, waterfalls, hills and valleys.

    Just imagine that.


    16 20Its not that far from Swansea Bay toHollywood. Locals Catherine Zeta Jones, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Richard Burton all made the big time there. And nowtheyre laying out the red carpet for ourmost recent superstar, Michael Sheen,photographed above at Margam Park.

    He hasnt forgotten his roots. He regularlyreturns to Port Talbot, where his motherand father live. It was a good place to growup and although nowadays I have SantaMonica beach and the Pacific on mydoorstep, my first love is the sea I grewup with, says Michael. During my returnvisits home, I enjoy walking along AberavonBeach with its wonderful views, especiallythe setting of the sun in the west acrossSwansea Bay.

    Look out for Michael starring as David Frostin the new Frost/Nixon movie during 2009,based on the award-winning London andBroadway stage play. His other starringroles due for cinema release are Lucian inUnderworld The Rise of The Lycans andBrian Clough in The Damned United.


    Inside information:02 Swansea 06 Going green 08 Beaches, parks and gardens 10 Waterfront activities 12 Adrenalin sports 13 Real food 14 Walking and golf 16 Arts and culture 18 For families 20 Hidden secrets 22 Festivals and events23 Making plans 24 Travel information 26 Maps 28 Accommodation 40 Attractions and activities44 Accommodation listing 48 More holiday areas

  • 03 | Swansea visitswanseabay.com02 | Swansea

    Were not about to give you a strict hour-by-hour diary of things tosee and do. Our freewheeling city is not that kind of place. Its a mixof city and seaside, a touch traditional in some parts, forward lookingin others. Not the kind of place you can pin down easily, then. Invarious guises it has cropped up in books and poems by DylanThomas and Kingsley Amis, and TV series by its current mostfamous son, writer-of-the-moment Russell T Davies.

    So, during your 48 hours, what can you pack in? In no particularorder, wed recommend the following. But if you asked us tomorrow,wed probably come up with a completely different list

    48 hours in swansea

    Welsh Italian ice cream. Were theexperts. You can follow an ice creameating trail around the Bay fromAberavon to Mumbles. But maybenot all in a day

  • 05 | Swansea visitswanseabay.com04 | Swansea

    Follow in Dylans footstepsTheyre mighty big boots to fill.Whats more, hes back in the newsthanks to The Edge of Love, therecent biopic starring KeiraKnightley, Sienna Miller andMatthew Rhys. So start at thewaterfront Dylan Thomas Centre.And end up at the miles of yellowcoldness going away into thedistance of the sea. Thats Dylanstake on the vast west-facing beachalong the edge of Gower.

    Go surfing sub-tropical andotherwiseChill out in Llangennith, the funky,sandy surf capital of Wales. Its justas cool though the temperaturesa bit warmer at The LC, Swanseasbrand-new leisure complex whereyou can hang five on therevolutionary indoor BoardRider.

    Taste the differenceYoull find Carol Watts at the GowerCockles stall in Swansea Market.Call in for a cup of her fresh cockles.Its a taste of the sea. And whileyoure at it, stock up on fish, crabs,bacon, fruit and veg, bread andhome-made treats that are as freshas they come. Jet-lagged produce

    doesnt stand a chance in thisfamously fresh, famously traditionalfood market.

    Mooch around the marinaWere proud of our maritime past in Swansea. And what weve doneto bring it back to life. They sayimitation is the sincerest form offlattery, for we were one of the firstcities in Britain to redevelop itswaterfront. Our Maritime Quarterhas heaps of awards for its winningblend of lifestyle and leisure andwere not finished yet, for justacross the way the exciting newSA1 Waterfront is up and running.

    Bike it along the baySwansea Bay is a delicious slice ofseaside, curving all the way fromthe City Centre to the fashionableresort of Mumbles 5 miles away.Soak up the salty air and scenery on a bike ride from the Marina toMumbles Pier (calling in, as youmust do, for a cappuccino orsomething cooler at one of ourlegendary ice cream parlours enroute). No previous Tour de Franceexperience or Yellow Jerseysnecessary. The traffic-free bike laneis as flat as a pancake.

    Top: Bodysurfing with a roof overyour head at The LC, Swansea Above: Cycling along the Bay its a breezeRight: Swanseas historic waterfront,reinvented as a stylish marina

  • 07 | Going green visitswanseabay.com06 | Going green

    real greenHave you noticed? Everyones going green.

    We dont want to boast but we had a headstart. When Britains first Area ofOutstanding Natural Beauty was chosen wayback in 1956 they picked the GowerPeninsula. The Afan Forest Park is part ofEuropes largest urban forest (perhaps thatswhy its known as Little Switzerland). TheNeath Valley is full of woods and waterfalls.So in addition to all that sand and sea theresmore than a splash of green around.

    The right kind of horse powerAlthough just a stones throw fromthe coast, Gowers country pubs andvillages seem remote and rural.Theyre surrounded by farms, fields,hills and moors. And keeping thebracken under control is Griffin theHorse. Hes also in keeping withGowers impeccable greencredentials.

    Gowers wild ponies love their surroundings.Who wouldnt? The Peninsula is also home to 67 ancient woodlands and 19 NatureReserves. Berry Wood near Knelston is a bitof both. Fungi, lichen and fruits of the forestthrive amongst its timeless oaks. Come herein April for springtime flowers, or in Octoberfor a feast of mushrooms.

    Salmon and self sufficiencyAberdulais Falls in the Neath Valleyconfounds all expectations. Thispioneering industrial heritage siteis a place of great beauty. Salmonand sewin (our name for sea trout)leap upriver through a special fishpass. And Europes largestelectricity-generating waterwheelmakes this unique National Trustproperty completely self sufficient.Not to say very, very green.

    Waterfall countryCascades tumble down the Vale ofNeaths steep-sided woods and deepgorges. Nowhere else in Wales hassuch amazing waterfalls. And wemean proper falls, the kind you canwalk behind. Without getting wet. Go to Sgw^d yr Eira (The Spout ofSnow) and try it.

  • 09 | Beaches, parks and gardens visitswanseabay.com08 | Beaches, parks and gardens

    outdoor oscars

    Why are Gowers beaches always winningawards? You wouldnt need to ask if youstood on Rhossilis endless sands. Its theKing of Gower according to Country Lifemagazine, which ranks it amongst BritainsTop 10 beaches. The Daily Telegraphlikes it too, for its regular sightings ofbasking sharks, grey seals and the odd bottlenose dolphin.

    Oxwich Bay, Port Eynon and Michelin-starred Three Cliffs Bay (above) the latter a big favourite with local girlKatherine Jenkins also get in on the act.And we suspect that Catherine Zeta-Jones is often homesick for Swansea Bays wide,open spaces and salty tang. Catherine andKatherine have lots to choose from.

    The sandcastles start just across the roadfrom the City Centre and, give or take aheadland or two, run all the way to the tip of Gower.

    There are 50-odd bays, covesand beaches on Gower, so

    finding your own personalspace is never a problem,even in summer. Youwont be bothered bytacky funfairs either.

    We dont go in for thatsort of thing here (the

    nearest we get is the charmingold pier at Mumbles, where you might be able to buy some candyfloss to go with your cappuccino).

    Our green spaces are award winnerstoo. Swansea has always been agreen city. Its a way of life for us.And, just to prove it, the Green Flag the highest accolade for parks andgardens flies over three gorgeouscity oases: Victoria Park, ClyneGardens and Singleton BotanicalGardens (below right).

    Further afield, Margam Country Park(above right) and Neaths GnollEstate also demonstrate how natureand nurture can work so welltogether.

    Award-winnersFor beaches that have won the Blue Flag, Seaside (like lovelyLangland above) and Green CoastAwards please see the map on pages26/27. The various schemes mightuse different criteria but they all addup to top quality.

  • 10 | Waterfront activities

    But where do we start? At Swanseas swishnew SA1 (thats shorthand for our latestmarina development)? Or on Gower amongstthe dunes and surfing dudes at Llangennith?Thats the problem. Our waterfront is as fluidas the seas that fringe it. One minute itssleek, hip and decidedly 21st century at SA1and the Maritime Quarter. Then it turns into a perambulation along the Victorian promand pier at Mumbles.

    Across the bay the huge Blue Flag beach atAberavon comes complete with an aquasplash pool and adventure playground. Whilealong Gower youll just have to make do withlittle beach cafs and big doses of MotherNa


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