The saying ‘life’s a beach’ definitely fits the bill when describing Swansea, Wales’ waterfront city. Sitting prettily on the five-mile stretch of Swansea Bay Beach, its list of virtues are endless. The Gower Penninsula is just a short journey from Swansea and boasts some of the UK’s most spectacular beaches. Rhossili Bay was voted Britain’s best beach and 9th in the world by Trip Advisor, a fairly weighty accolade; Llangennith Beach made the TOP 10 UK Surf Spots list in the Guardian newspaper. These are just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the abundance of beaches, bays and coves along this spectacular coastline.
But it is not all about the beach; Swansea has, I think, got it all. The city centre is a vibrant mix of shops, cafés and restaurants and there are plenty of cultural activities to embrace – the Waterfront Museum tells the human story of Welsh industry and innovation whilst the Dylan Thomas centre shares the history of one of Wales’ most famous poets and writers. The abundance of parks makes wandering around a pleasure and there is a sense of openness with the sea winds bringing freshness to this wonderful city.
Outside of the city and away from the coast there is still plenty to explore. Penllergare Valley Woods has an important place in the history of Swansea and is often described as a Victorian Paradise, forgotten for years and now being nourished and restored to its former glory.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn, renowned for his Landscape design, horticultural, astronomic and photographic talents took full advantage of the natural beauty of Penllergare Valley Woods in 1810 and his creation was a true realisation of his expertise. Sadly for many years this hidden gem was exactly that, hidden and forgotten until in 2000 when the Penllergare Trust was formed. Once again the lakes, waterfalls and exotic trees and shrubs (currently being restored) can be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Valley Woods is also a haven for wildlife – walking the trails here is truly quite magical.
Staying outside but for something a little different Dyrad Bushcraft and Wilderness courses are full of adventure. Both of my boys have taken part in activity days and camps where the focus is on outdoor survival and Dyrad Bushcraft offer a variety of courses and camps where you can hone your survival techniques. Learn about shelter building, wilderness cooking, fire lighting, traps and tracking along with many other skills using axes, knifes and saws. Dyrad Bushcraft instructors are experts in all the techniques they use, from the traditional to the new and up-to-date equipment and technology from around the world. Start your outdoor adventure with Dyrad Bushcraft.
From land to sea, being out on the ocean and riding the waves is freedom for the soul. My youngest son in particular will spend hours out on a surf board; he becomes a little obsessed with catching the next wave. Gower Surfing, the British surf company, are also passionate about surfing and their instructors want to make surfing accessible and fun for one and all. You can book your lessons online – either by taking part in group lessons or booking a private lesson. All you need to do is turn up with your cozzie and Surfgsd will provide the rest of the kit. You are guaranteed a qualified instructor to make sure your experience is fun and safe.
The usual locations are either Caswell Bay or Rhossili Bay and both are equally beautiful. After booking you will be contacted a few days before your lesson is due with advice about time and locations to help make sure you get the optimum out of the surf.
You may have already heard of Gower Surfing as they recently featured on the Gadget Show giving an indoor surf lesson – another way to get body and board together! They have also featured in a variety of TV programmes and have shared advice and knowledge with many media prints. Start your love affair with the surf and sea: book a lesson or two whilst visiting Swansea, complete with expert instructors with a passion for surfing and beautiful locations – what could be more perfect?
I can’t wait for school to finish now, and although I have a few things planned, I do still have a few free weeks. I will most certainly be booking a few days in Swansea with the children and the dog. Visit Swansea have oodles of inspiration on the local area, well worth taking a look at before planning your visit to make sure you get the most out of this beautiful Welsh city – and its surrounding coast and countryside.