Surrounded by water on three sides, the Gower Peninsula has a wonderful feeling of isolation. Fantastic walking country, it is incredibly rich in prehistory, from standing stones to burial mounds. Caves are a natural feature of the Gower’s limestone, and many were occupied by our ancestors at the end of the last Ice Age.
Ancient ash woodland
Park at the Gower Heritage Centre or cross the ford and drive to the Parkwood car park nearby. Alternatively, use the Gower Explorer bus, which stops in Parkmill.
The path leads into Parkwood, which was once the deer park of the Norman Lord of Gower, William de Breos. Keep walking along the trail and you’ll soon come to the first of the route’s prehistoric sites, a burial cairn known as Giant’s Grave.
The bones of 40 men, women and children were found inside the 5,500-year-old structure. Most were interred in chambers that opened from a central passageway.
Cat Hole Cave
After leaving the cairn, the track passes a lime kiln. A little further on, a path finds its way up the valley side to the first of two
cave entrances. It is blocked by a grill but to the right is a second, bigger entrance.
Looking inside, it’s easy to imagine the cave as a home with a wood fire warming the cramped space. Flint tools have been found inside, as well as bones of bears, reindeer and mammoths. Sitting by their fire, the nomadic hunters that used it as a stopover would have had a perfect view out over their valley. The site is about a mile from the sea (other Gower caves are in sea cliffs), but for the Ice Age hunters, Cat Hole Cave is thought to have been a staging point on the way to a fertile plain that’s now – thanks to rising sea levels – the Bristol Channel.
Take the second path on the left, which climbs between tall, old oaks. The route follows part of the Gower Way – look out for its marker stones.
At Cillibion, go left and follow the minor road on to the open moorland of Cefn Bryn, the sandstone ridge that’s the Gower’s backbone. It is rich in prehistoric features, but the most striking is at its highest point – Arthur’s Stone, the Neolithic capstone of a chambered tomb. The huge stone is a landmark of what is an incredible location; it’s no wonder that it has become linked with the fabled hero king. On a clear day the views are breathtaking.
Back track until you are almost at the pool and then take the path on the right. Cross the moor bearing left to join a track. When it reaches the edge of Park Wood, turn left at the fork and look for a path into the woods. After about a mile, the route rejoins the main track through the wood close to Cat Hole Cave and returns to the car park.
How to get there
The walk starts at the Gower Heritage Centre at Parkmill, a small village that’s 6½ miles west of Swansea on the A4118.
Find out more
Swansea Tourist Information Centre
Plymouth Street, Swansea
King Arthur Hotel
Higher Green, Reynoldston SA3 1AD
Great country pub not far from Arthur’s Stone.
Parkmill SA3 2HA
This Victorian hunting lodge, now a family-run B&B, is a stone’s throw from Cat Hole Cave in Park Wood.
Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School
Llangennith SA3 1HU
The Gower has some of the best surfing in Wales and the beach at Llangennith is great for novices.