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Tears Point to Overton Mere

This is a dramatic, rocky stretch of coastline, with high cliffs containing spectacular limestone geology.  The angles of the rocks show how they have been tipped and moved over billions of years.  As you walk along the coast path you will be able to see many coastal geological features, including rocky bays, stacks (pillars of rock in the sea off the ends of headlands), and wave-cut platforms where the sea has eroded away the cliffs, leaving only their bases visible at low tide.  All these features provide important wildlife habitats, including intertidal rocks which are home to the rare honeycomb worm.  Honeycomb worms use sand and shell to build living reefs in a honeycomb pattern, which can be up to 1metre deep, and several metres across.  These reefs in turn provide a home for other species, including anemones, snails, shore crabs and seaweeds such as sea lettuce.  The cliffs provide nesting sites for sea birds, and the associated limestone grassland contains a variety of plants and insects.

There are also many caves, some of which contained Palaeolithic (early Stone Age) remains.  In those days, the sea level was much lower than it is now, and people would have sat in the caves and observed their coastal hunting grounds, which are now under the sea.  Remains found in the caves (and their associated mounds outside) include Palaeolithic flint tools and Bronze Age pottery and bone.  Several of the cliff tops contain Promontory Forts, thought to date from the Iron Age.  These sites were defended headlands, with the sea providing defence on three sides, and a series of banks and ditches providing defence on the landward side.  At Knave’s Point the banks and ditches can still be clearly seen.

To the east of the area at Port Eynon there is some more recent archaeology in the form of a well-preserved salt house from the sixteenth century, where salt was extracted by heating sea water. Between Port Eynon and Overton is Culver Hole, an unusual structure dating from the medieval period, where a tall, narrow cave has been bricked up and used as a dovecote.  From the base of the cliff you can see the windows and openings which allowed the doves to reach the 30 tiers of nesting boxes inside.

In order to explore this area properly you will need to leave your car behind and walk along the coast path.  Take care, though, especially if it is windy or wet, as the rocks can get very slippery and the cliffs are high.  The rocky cliffs continue eastwards along the southern coast of the Gower, and can be accessed using the coast path.