SCA 5 – Worms Head to Port Eynon Point

Summary description 

The SCA is a linear, exposed coast of dramatic limestone cliffs, jagged reefs, incised valleys and small coves terminating in the highly distinctive form of Worms Head to the west. The sandy Helwick Channel is enclosed by the Helwick Sands to the south and narrows to the east. There caves in the cliffs with Paleolithic remains, such as Goat’s Hole Cave, Paviland. As this stretch of coast is not accessible by car it is a quiet, tranquil and remote section of the coast with very limited development. The waters are used by leisure and fishing boats and for wildlife trips.

Key characteristics

  • A linear, exposed coast of dramatic limestone cliffs, jagged reefs, incised valleys and small coves terminating in the highly distinctive form of Worms Head, separated from the mainland by a tidal rock platform.
  • The sandy Helwick Channel is enclosed by the Helwick Sands to the south and narrows to the east to the Helwick Pass.
  • The coast is exposed to high wave energy and there are strong tidal streams around Worms Head and Rhossili Point, and overfalls on the south side of the sand bar.
  • The area is part of the Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries SAC and the Carmarthen Bay SPA includes Worms Head with its seabirds. The semi-natural vegetated limestone coast is covered by the Limestone Coast of South West Wales SAC and SSSIs.
  • Though protected in part by the Helwick Bank the sea can be treacherous with dangerous reefs and the narrow Helwick Pass and there are wrecks along the coast.
  • The coast and hinterland form part of the Gower Landscape of Historic Interest.
  • Of particular note are the caves in the cliffs with Paleolithic remains, such as Goat’s Hole at Paviland and Longhole Caves, which were inhabited when sea levels much lower.
  • Small boats use the area for cruising round the coast and just off Worms Head is a popular location for fishing. Wildlife trips ply this section of coast in the summer.
  • The coast is difficult to access apart from the far west and far east and is therefore a relatively quiet section of the Wales Coast Path.
  • A dramatic linear stretch of angular cliffs and short incised valleys, small rocky coves and caves, and jagged rocky platforms.
  • The coast is exhilarating and exposed with dramatic limestone rock formations. This is echoed by the experience at sea with the caves being exposed to view, giving a strong sense of history.
  • Overall, the area is largely unspoilt with very limited development, tranquil and feels remote.
  • There a long unspoilt views out to sea with Lundy and Exmoor visible on clear days, and views along the coast, some to Worms Head.

The area is part of the Gower AONB and Heritage Coast.

Forces for change

These can be divided into:

  • Natural processes
  • Visitor pressure
  • Marine use- commercial and leisure fishing
  • Offshore energy or minerals
  • Development pressure
  • Land management changes
  • MOD use

Initial thoughts are:

The natural forces for change are changing patterns of sediment movement along the Helwick Bank, and the slow erosion of the rocky cliffs and platforms.

The SMP long-term objectives are to allow the coast to evolve and retreat naturally through no active intervention. This will not affect any man made structures.

Other forces for change include potential future sand dredging at Helwick Swatch.