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Loughor Estuary and Whiteford Point

This is a landscape of contrasts, located in the north-west of Gower.  Within the Loughor estuary, a network of creaks wind their way through mudflats and salt marshes, under a wide sky filled with the sounds of sea birds.  This is a quiet area, away from the bustle of the eastern estuary, and the Coast Path from Crofty to Whiteford follows quiet roads and tracks between the edge of the marshes and the steep wooded hills which rise up inland.

The tops of these hills contain many historical sites and features, including prehistoric forts, medieval castles and ancient churches.  There are also superb views northwards across the estuary and beyond.  In Llanrhidian church porch you can see an ancient carved stone which is thought to have Viking origins.

At the western end is Whiteford point, an evocative place which is appreciated for its peace and quiet.  Here, sand is deposited at the mouth of the estuary, and you can see the long sandy beach with sand dunes behind. Some of the dunes are still blown by the wind, whilst others have been stabilised by the pine trees which grow on them.  The lighthouse at the northern end of Whiteford point was built in 1865, and stands in 6m of water at high tide.  It is the only example of a wave-swept cast-iron lighthouse of this size in Britain, and some of its early features have survived, including wooden windows and a sheet-copper roof.

The area is very important for wildlife (particularly sea birds), and is designated nationally and internationally.  Whiteford Point is also a nature reserve, supporting many rare plant species (including fen orchid, dune gentian and petalwort), as well as insects and birds.  At the southern end of Whiteford Point is the distinctive rocky limestone crag of Cwm Ivy Tor.  From the top there are panoramic views of the area.