At the far western edge of the Gower Peninsula, Rhossili Bay, a spectacular four-mile sweep of sand, spreads wide and flat northwards from Rhossili town to the tiny offshore islet of Burry Holmes. From the elevated vantage point at Worms Head in Rhossili, it seems to stretch forever; a colossal swathe of surf-kissed beach. Access is from Rhossili itself or at the other end of the beach near the town of Llangennith, where a narrow country road arrives at the beach car park and the unassuming surfers’ encampment of Hillend.
Occupying some prime beachside real estate behind the grassy dunes, Hillend campsite has had something of a makeover in recent years. After suffering a reputation for lager louts, all-night parties and boisterous teenage gangs from Swansea, the owners decided to go for a fresh start. They designated two of the four fields as ‘family only’, began turning away groups of dodgylooking youths and built a ‘posh’ family café and one of the finest amenities blocks on any Welsh campsite.
The result is a site that offers a more amenable, grown-up experience, while successfully retaining its relaxed, surf-cool heritage. As an indication of the change of clientele, the staff have reported that when litter-picking in the sand dunes, they now find empty bottles of champagne and vintage wine rather than flagons of cheap cider.
It’s a big site, with 275 pitches on 14 acres of level meadowland, but the new shower block can easily cope with the numbers and there’s more than enough room for everyone to share the large beach during the day.
Beginners and intermediate surfers will find the conditions at Rhossili Bay perfect, with a combination of the full Atlantic swell and a gently sloping beach producing long waves that can be ridden (with a bit of practice) for more than 100 metres. The Welsh Surfing Federation (01792 386426; www. wsfsurfschool.co.uk) runs two-hour surfing lessons from £25.
The appeal of this location is more than just the beach, the surf and the Gower landscape; it’s much more than the sum of its constituent parts. There’s an inexplicable pull about this particular part of the peninsula that has a deep and lasting effect on visitors. Maybe it’s the wild and remote atmosphere, enhanced by the crashing Atlantic waves. Maybe as the wind stirs up the long-grassed dunes it releases a certain mystical energy. Or maybe it’s the fact that the chavs and troublemakers have been banished. Whatever the reason, why not start with just a weekend camping at Hillend and see how you go?
FacilitiesThe shower block has 26 showers plus outside showers for surfers, washing-up and laundry facilities. Next door, Eddy’s Bistro (usually 8am–8pm, but hours vary) is a café/coffee shop serving inexpensive meals, dispensing with the need to bring any cooking accoutrements. A shop sells camping essentials, groceries and beach paraphernalia. Eight acres of the site are dedicated to family camping and there is a children’s play area, too.
NearbyWalk the ¾-mile back into Llangennith, clustered round a central village green and the church of St Cenydd – the largest in Gower, founded in the 6th century. According to legend the church was established as a hermitage by St Cenydd; but in 986 the early buildings were destroyed by Vikings. The present, Norman structure dates from the 12th century. There’s a good pub (see Food & Drink) opposite PJ’s Surf Shop (01792 386669) where you can arrange lessons. From the campsite, walk northwest through the dunes to the Blue Pool (1½ miles), a rock pool which, in the right sea and sky conditions, takes a deep blue colour. In addition to other nearby options, the Gower Heritage Centre (01792 371206) might entertain the kids awhile on a rainy day.
Food & DrinkA 5-minute drive or 15-minute walk back up the road is the King’s Head (01792 386212) in Llangennith, popular with surfers for its music, pool tables and well-priced food.
Opening TimesEarly April – late October.
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Rated ★★★★★ over 10 reviews
A great site with all the essentials but none of the fuss!!
The Gower has a lot to offer, but this particular part has some of the most stunning views and one of the best beaches for surfing. As a result, the campsite gets very busy even earlier in the year. Nevertheless, the beach still feels almost deserted because of it's size.
The facilities here are excellent - hot showers, and ample toilets and washing stations. The shop on site is limited in terms of camping supplies but there is a well stocked petrol station in Llanrhidian and there is also a cafe serving burgers and other food if getting the stove out is not your thing.
I particularly recommend the local pub in Llangennith, the Kings Head, which is the perfect place for a few pints at the end of the day. The bar is often busy with surfers, whilst the restaurant has a wonderful selection of local produce including an excellent cheese board.
The put can be reached on a circular walk from the campsite taking in the cliff tops and the beach, via Rhossili.
A fail safe option for a good weekend.
We love it!
Friendly, relaxed, clean and everyone friendly. Simple camping in big open spaces with very little rules but people are very respectful. Facilities of toilets, inside showers and out side showers, for surfers, always has good hot running water for free. convenience shop has everything you'd need including rental of cool box blocks of £1 deposit 20p per rental which is handy. Eddy's Cafe is fantastic, serving a good selection of food and drink as well as take away pizzas, a little treat to take back to the tent. With a two minute walk over the sand dunes takes you to an amazing, huge sandy beach. Perfect for families of young children who want to dig in the sand or anyone wanting to surf. Also, surf school for beginners. For none beach days you can take a walk over the hills or walk 1-2miles along the lane or over the fields to a local pub which serves good grub or a longer day out walking around the coast to The worms head where you can find a nice pub too. But if you want to walk out to the worms head, make sure to check the tides before risking getting stuck out there!
developed but not ruined
I have visited this site many times:- as a child with my family, as a student looking for a cheap adventure, as a thirty something looking for a quick weekend away and now as a parent with 2 children in tow. The site has changed over the years, new club house, posh toilet/shower block, very well stocked shop and a great playground area for the children. No matter, you still have the beach literally at the door of your tent and some great walks/bike rides in sight.
My advice is to visit, it will not disappoint! just don't go on a bank holiday. Low-mid season weekends or high season weekdays are best if you want a gorgeously placed site without the crowds.
Gowers best kept secret :)
Hillend is the Gower's best kept camping secret (shhh don't tell too many folk) ...located virtually on Rhossili Beach (in the top ten of Europe's best beaches) you need never leave the campsite. Excellent and clean washroom facilities, well stocked shop, cute little cafe and good kids campsite ...a must for a vibrant yet chilled out holiday.
Hillend campsite was a bit of a delight. The facilities are great (including piping hot showers), there is a nice cafe on-site with good-value meals and a couple of traditional pubs nearby. It's right next to the beach and some beautiful scenery and it's good for people like me who were learning to surf. The owners treat you like adults and while there is a vibrant atmosphere to the place, there aren't any er (trying to find an appropriate word) idiots about.
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