SCA 7 – Pwlldu Head to Mumbles Head

Summary description 

The SCA forms the eastern end of the south Gower coastline terminating at the distinctively profiled Mumbles Head with its lighthouse. The indented coastline of sloping limestone cliffs has three small sandy bays and several smaller coves. The seabed is gently shelving and sandy, increasing in depth offshore except at Mixon Shoal which dries at low tide and is a hazard. The area is popular for leisure boating and recreational fishing vessels out from Swansea. The beaches at Langland Bay and Caswell Bay are accessible and very popular destinations for beach activities. The scenic natural character of the coastline acts as a positive backcloth to suburban development especially around Langland and Bracelet Bays.

Key characteristics

  • The indented sloping limestone cliff and rocky coast from Pwlldu to Mumbles Head has three small sandy bays at Pwll Du, Caswell and Langland, and several smaller coves.
  • The sea bed shelves gently out to sea coarsening from sand to sandy gravel. The Mixon Shoal, exposed at low tide, is a hazard south of the Mumbles.
  • The coast is exposed to the prevailing wind and the wave energy is high in south-west facing parts, and wave swells can be high.
  • To the west, there are intertidal wavecut platforms supporting honeycomb worm reef.
  • There is maritime heath mosaic and grasslands on the cliffs but these are limited in scale.
  • The coastal sections at Pwll-du Head and Bishopston Valley, Caswell Bay, Langland Bay and Bracelet Bay are SSSIs.
  • The Mixon has caused a number of losses to shipping as well as to the oyster fleet which historically was based at the Mumbles.
  • There is a promontory fort at Caswell Cliff.
  • The area is long established as a leisure destination with the focus on Langland and Caswell Bays.
  • Langland and Caswell Bay beaches are very popular for general beach activities and surfing.
  • Pwllu Du Bay is relatively quiet and rural and so is the exception.
  • There is a small oyster fishery south of Mumbles Headland and the area is popular for day fishing and sailing out from Swansea.
  • The coast is indented and medium scale with small enclosed bays fringed with cliffs and semi-natural vegetation and trees in sheltered locations, which provide an important rural setting and continuity.
  • The popularity of the area means that it is busy in season and development impinges on the accessible bays and some clifftops, giving it a suburban character in places, especially to the east.
  • Between the main bays there is some tranquillity but nowhere feels remote.
  • Mumbles Head forms an iconic feature at the mouth of Swansea Bay with the lighthouse on the outer of the two distinctively profiled tidal islets.
  • The area is part of 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 area is sensitive to sea level rise and increasing severity of weather.

The SMP long-term objectives for Caswell Bay and Langland Bay are to hold the line through maintenance and upgrading of existing defences in order to protect tourism assets and properties. The objective for intervening rocky coasts including Bracelet Bay is of no active intervention, to allow the coast to evolve and retreat naturally.

Other forces for change include:

  • Pressure of visitors on Caswell Bay, Langland Bay and Bracelet Bay.
  • Erosion of the Wales Coast Path between these honeypots
  • Potential intensification, urbanisation and expansion of housing in bays and between settlements which can be visually intrusive and reduce tranquillity.