Despite being a popular beach destination during the summer months, the anchorage at Oxwich Bay can be far from the madding crowd, as Jonty Pearce describes
Oxwich Bay, The Gower
Between Tenby and Swansea the choice of anchorage is limited. Diverting across Carmarthen Bar into the estuaries of the Taf and Towy, or across to Burry Port, is not always convenient, and the Gower coast is mostly inhospitable in the prevailing southwesterly winds until you turn the Mumbles corner into Swansea Bay. However, there are two exceptions – Port Eynon and Oxwich Bay. I favour the latter even though the beach itself is popular during the summer months;
it is so extensive that there is ample room for all.
Those seeking the anchorage in the north-west corner will be far from the madding crowds, and the true peace of this anchorage develops as the sun starts to dip and the call of tea disperses the day visitors to leave this lovely stretch in the hands of a few fishermen, dog walkers, and yachtsmen. Out of season, Oxwich changes its personality and becomes a haven of peace and wildlife.
The anchorage is well sheltered from the north through to the south-west – if the wind has north in it, anchor in the southern part, and if the wind is southwesterly, anchor as far north as the depth allows. If a southerly or easterly is forecast, it’s time to move on.
The approach is hazard free as long as the wreck close to the western shore is noted. Coming from the west, give Oxwich Point and its overfalls a wide berth, whilst from the east the bay is open. The best anchorage is between the moorings and the shore – calculate the depth and drop the hook on firm sand with good holding. Do not be tempted to use the moorings. Many of them are marked ‘Keep Off’, which is always a good hint – returning local fishing boats might need the mooring at 0200, and some of the outside buoys are actually lobster keeps.
However, if the weather is clement, stretch your legs ashore and enjoy not only the beach, but also the Oxwich Bay SSSI and Oxwich National Nature Reserve behind the dunes, where flora and fauna include everything from orchids to otters and boardwalks meander over the marshes and reed beds that host a wide range of birdlife including rarities such as the bittern and Cetti’s warbler. On one evening visit we were entranced by a murmuration of flocking starlings performing fantastic group aerobatics that painted shadowy shapes against the twilight sky before they settled into the trees for their winter roost. The spectacle left us humbled, and we had to visit the excellent Oxwich Bay Hotel for a small libation to help fix the memory permanently in our minds.
Apart from the beachside hotel, Oxwich offers few facilities. The village has a shop and café and there are toilets in the car park. Local buses do serve the area and allow exploration further afield. The main local hub is Swansea, although those wishing to avoid the hotspots should visit the adjacent Three Cliffs Bay, chosen by the operatic diva Katherine Jenkins as her favourite view.
The unspoilt and beautiful Gower Peninsula was rightly one of the first places designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty under the 1949 Act, and Oxwich Bay provides a yachtsman’s gateway into this glorious domain. It’s all there waiting for you…