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Visiting Rhossili, on the Gower Peninsula, Swansea, Wales: spectacular Worm's Head: promontory or islet?

Updated on April 12, 2013
Flag of Wales
Flag of Wales | Source
Worm's Head at Rhossili
Worm's Head at Rhossili | Source
Cliffs at Rhossili Bay. Taken from the beach, showing the Worms Head National Trust Visitor Centre on the right.
Cliffs at Rhossili Bay. Taken from the beach, showing the Worms Head National Trust Visitor Centre on the right. | Source
Map location of Swansea, Wales
Map location of Swansea, Wales | Source

Watch the tides!

Worm's Head, at Rhossili (Welsh: Rhosili ), near Swansea (Welsh: Abertawe )(1), Wales, is sometimes described as a promontory and sometimes as an islet. So which is it, really?

The answer is: it depends on whether the tide is out or not.

At high tide, a causeway connecting Worm's Head to the Gower Peninsula (Welsh: Gwyr ) is completely covered. This is when it gets tricky.

Rhossili and Worm's Head are ideal for birdwatching; indeed, the area is known for the cormorants which make them their habitat. Birdwatchers naturally wish to get close to the birds and so many of them will walk across the causeway onto Worm's Head itself. Then what? Well, the inevitable happens: the tide will come in suddenly, and many a birdwatcher has been stranded for hours on what, at the beginning of their birdwatching expedition was a spectacular, rocky promontory, but which suddenly, when they are not being vigilant, becomes a spectacular islet. (And, you know, people tend to be far more impressed by a spectacular promontory, when they can go home at a time of their choosing, than with an equally spectacular islet, when they may be in for a rough, few hours, stranded. Funny how this works.) One person who was famously stranded on Worm's Head was the writer Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), who subsequently wrote about his experience, and his exhausted, semi-delirious walk back to his home in Swansea one night, after the tide finally receded again.

Information about the local flora and fauna may be obtained at the Worm's Head Visitor Centre, with display of literature, interpretive panels and historical background.

The promontory itself — or islet — is approximately 1.6 kilometres long and rises to a height of about 45 metres.

One of my abiding memories of Rhossili is the blustery winds which whip across the cliffs from the adjacent Bristol Channel. (This factor would also go some way towards explaing why the tides can so suddenly cover the causeway which joins Worm's Head to the mainland.)

So, visitors to Europe accustomed only to the Mediterranean: while you are making up your mind whether this remarkable geographical feature is a promontory or an islet, be warned of the high tides which are very much a feature of this part of Wales!



Rhossili and the scenic Gower Peninsular are situated within the administrative boundaries of the City and County of Swansea.

Also worth seeing

In Rhossili itself, the parish church is an old, stone building.

Pennard (distance: 19 kilometres) has Medieval castle ruins perched on a clifftop, near Three Cliffs Bay.


How to get there: Continental Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport , from where car rental is available. London Heathrow is 309 kilometres from Rhossili . There are also rail (from London Paddington railroad station) and bus links to Swansea. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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