Where When Wales
The Gower Explorer tour costs about $70. Commission is not available, but Where When Wales provides group rates.
I only had two days to spend in Wales, so I opted to cover as much ground as I could by traveling with a local tour operator, Where When Wales. The company has plenty of offerings, but I found it impossible to resist a journey to the Gower Peninsula, an area so scenic that it is often referred to as the U.K.’s First Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
As we departed Cardiff, we drove into a lush, coastal landscape that felt almost otherworldly to someone like myself, a resident of water-starved Southern California. I found myself humming “The Green, Green Grass of Home” and, although Tom Jones did not write the song that ended up being his most successful hit, it’s not hard to see why the tune resonated with the Welsh performer.
Woebley Castle // (c) 2010 Monica Poling
Where When Wales is a small company. The bus was driven by owner John Williams, while his wife, Jan, served as our guide. In keeping with the overall vibe of Wales, traveling with Jan and John felt less like a commercial transaction and more like a holiday with old family friends.
We first traveled to Swansea, known as Wales’ Waterfront City. There, we spent most of our time at the city’s marina, particularly at the National Waterfront Museum, which is made up of an old warehouse dating back to the early 1900s. We also visited the Dylan Thomas Centre, an exhibition dedicated to the Swansea-born poet and playwright who is best-known for his work “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”
After a brief stop in Swansea, we continued along the coast of Southern Wales, heading into the Gower, as locals call it. It isn’t hard to see why the area has earned its place as one of the most scenic areas in the U.K. The 19-mile peninsula is set on limestone cliffs and features no less than 50 bays, coves and beaches.
At the Langland Bay resort area, we were treated to a picturesque seaside view, complete with wooden beach huts. The huts, which do not allow overnight usage, are so popular that they are leased for $15,000 per year. There, we enjoyed an easy 1½-hour walk along the coastal trail, where we took in amazing coastal vistas with the occasional seal sighting.
Next, we headed to Rhossili, which overlooks Wales’ sandiest beach and is the Gower’s most-photographed spot. At low tide, visitors can walk along the causeway to the tidal island, Worms Head.
After lunch, we made our final stop at Weobley Castle, which is actually not a castle but a fortified medieval manor house dating back to the 13th century. Today, the castle’s ruins provide a dramatic view of the salt marshes and wetlands that make up Gower’s northern coast.
By day’s end, we returned to the National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff. Although the tour was officially over, Jan and John remained, imparting final suggestions on traveling in Wales for as long as their passengers had questions.