A visit to Mumbles in Swansea Bay was high on our list of things to do on our recent trip to the Gower Peninsula. We were excited about exploring Gower’s famous beaches and trying some of the coastal walks but were also keen to see why Mumbles is so popular. Find out what we got up to on our visit and our favourite 5 things to do in Mumbles.
Getting to Mumbles
Mumbles is a pretty seaside town, just 5 miles south of Swansea in South Wales. It is easily accessible from England on the M4 and is the official “gateway to Gower”.
We followed a direct route by car on the A4118 from Oxwich Bay, where we were staying.
On arrival in Mumbles we took a leisurely stroll along the promenade. This beach front walkway stretches all the way along the coastline to Swansea, with magnificent views of Swansea Bay throughout. However, as we had already planned to cycle to Swansea on another day, we headed in the other direction towards Mumbles Pier.
The promenade took us past lively cafés, such as the popular Verdi’s, which had just opened for al fresco dining after lockdown. However, having not been near a beach all year, we were unable to resist the temptation to climb down and walk along the shoreline.
Eventually, we stopped for refreshments at the Mumbles Pier Café (Beach Hut) and sat on their outside decking area. This gave us a break and time to find some facts about the town. Top of our list was the origins of Mumbles’ unusual name. Apparently, it may have derived from the French les mamelles, meaning the breasts, named by sailors upon spotting the two islands on the headland!
Originally built it 1898, the Victorian Mumbles Pier is still looking good, but is currently undergoing extensive re-development. Mumbles Pier marks the end of the expansive Swansea Bay and is one of the most iconic of Gower’s landmarks. Despite the refurbishment, the pier is still accessible. So, after our break for refreshments, this was the next stop on our itinerary.
The pier leads to two lifeboat stations, the old and new. They are both attractive buildings, which can be seen for miles around.
As we headed down the pier towards the first station, we could hear the colony of kittiwakes, nesting in the rafters. All vying for the best perch. And, what a racket they make!
After watching the birds for a while, we continued to the end of the pier, to see the new RNLI boathouse. Unfortunately, it was shut because of lockdown restrictions. However, we still had a good look inside through the door and then circled it to see the lifeboat slipway and fishermen.
Now, one of our very best things to do in Mumbles was walk out to Lighthouse Island.
Mumbles Lighthouse sits on the outer of two islands in Swansea Bay, but is only accessible at low tide. Luckily, the tide was out, so we ventured from Mumbles Head across the rocks to reach it.
From a distance we were excited to spot some potential smugglers’ caves on the first island. However, as we got closer we could see they were just fissures in the rocks. However, despite the lack of smugglers’ caves, we did find ship remains and rock pools to explore, so the causeway crossing was still fun.
Once at the island, we climbed the concrete steps to the top. No-one else was on the island when we arrived, and it really felt like an adventure from a Famous Five book.
Mumbles Lighthouse is white, octagonal and rather grand. It was built in 1794 but is now Grade II listed. However, recent re-engineering means the lighthouse is no longer occupied, but managed remotely from Harwich in Essex. Oh, the joys of modern technology!
Once on the island, we could walk right up to the lighthouse and circumnavigate it for most of its perimeter. Unfortunately, some rather overgrown brambles on the rear side hampered any further explorations. This meant we couldn’t get all the way round.
Nonetheless, we retraced our steps and entered one of the old lookouts that previously housed the searchlights for spotting enemy ships. They still make a great lookout and an even better photo spot.
We really enjoyed our visit to Lighthouse Island and loved exploring. We were even more impressed by our escapades, when we later saw a picture of Mumbles Lighthouse at high tide, surrounded by water! If you are thinking of making the walk out to Mumbles Lighthouse, check the Mumbles tide times here.
Oystermouth is a 12th century castle which sits on a small hill overlooking Mumbles and Swansea Bay. We walked to the castle from the sea front in about 10 minutes.
It is a magnificent building and in far better state than some other Gower castles.
We couldn’t enter the castle grounds, because of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. However, we still enjoyed walking all the way round and peering through the gates. It is an impressive historic building and worth a visit.
The area in front of the castle is well-kept lawn and ideal for a picnic, or even a roll down the hill!
Cycling in Mumbles
One of our most fun things to do at Mumbles was a family bike ride from Mumbles Pier to Swansea.
Having enjoyed our first visit to Mumbles, we returned a couple of days later with our bikes. We then followed the cycle route on the promenade in the direction of Swansea. The promenade divides into 2 paths, for pedestrians and cyclists.
It’s a great ride into Swansea on National Cycle Ride 4. It is ideal for family cycling as it is traffic-free and flat. Furthermore, you have scenic views of Swansea Bay along your way.
On arrival at Swansea, we crossed over the pedestrian swing bridge, before stopping for a snack overlooking the marina. We then cycled round and came back over the Tawe Barrage Lock. Two made it in time, but two had to wait whilst the gates opened to let the boats through.
We then retraced our route back in the direction of Mumbles. The journey is 5 miles each way, but we were curious to try another cycle route through the Clyne Valley Country Park. So, when we got back as far as Black Pill, we crossed the road and set off towards Gowerton.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it all the way to Gowerton. A wasp stung one of the kids on his lip, which made him nearly fall off his bike. Then, the adults were distracted by the chance of a beer in the sun at The Railway Inn.
However, we did complete over half of the route, and can save the rest for another day!
Eventually, we returned to Mumbles, stopping for a well-deserved ice-cream at Ripples on Mumbles Promenade.
Pin for later: Our Favourite 5 Things to do in Mumbles, Gower
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