From Gower’s coasts, Cefn Bryn is a gently swelling sandstone ridge that invites your eyes and eventually your legs along its length.
Scattered over it are prehistoric hut circles, burnt mounds and cairns, most notably the magnificent Maen Ceti (King Arthur’s Stone), a Neolithic cromlech that, built to shelter human bones, now harbours lichens and rain.
Cefn Bryn wildlife
In spring, three-lobed water crowfoot flowers in summit ponds that eventually dry out in summer when the hill is a tapestry of Western gorse, heathers, cotton-grass, heath-rush and molinia.
Meanwhile, in deeper Broad Pool at the hill’s limestone foot, fringed waterlily, lesser marshwort and water-milfoil thrive. Herons, snipe, little grebes, water stick insects, water scorpions, 14 species of dragonflies and damselflies can also be found, as well as the occasional billowing bride (the pool is a popular wedding photo venue).
Cefn Bryn walk
8 miles | 5 hours | moderate
At just 186m high and five miles long, Cefn Bryn is an easy amble via the Gower Way from Penmaen, which is served by Swansea buses. Better still, first head north from Penmaen through Park Wood’s ancient ash woodland, around to Broad Pool and up the Coal Road passing Maen Ceti, before taking a break in Reynoldston where sheep devour the village chamomile lawn.
Unusually, much of the commonland here escaped enclosure and, like the sheep, cows browse garden hedges alongside tussock-munching ponies. In fact, almost half of the land here, Cefn Bryn included, is commons where local people still practise grazing rights, and it is one of the most significant areas of lowland heathland in the world. The hill ponies that stare through tangled manes are wild and free-roaming, at least until they are mature enough to be taken off the hill and sold.
2. Ridge top
Return to Penmaen along the ridge. From this vantage point, the Penclawdd cockle-marsh dissolves into the Loughor Estuary with Pembrokeshire a distant fizzing stripe to the north, while to the south, wood-fringed beaches give way to the Bristol Channel and Devon on the horizon.
Gower Walking Festival
If your appetite is whetted, the Gower Walking Festival offers a great chance to explore the area. This year’s festival has been postponed until September; see gowerwalkingfestival.uk