Whiteford Point, Gower

Whiteford Point, Gower

This narrow pensinsula is a National Nature Reserve, owned by the National Trust. Its sand dunes are a habitat for hundreds of plant species, including dune gentian and early marsh orchid. The flowers attract rare butterflies in summer. The marshland to the east is an important habitat for birds such as curlew and snipe.

Beyond the tip of the peninsula stands the disused Whitford lighthouse (Whiteford was spelled Whitford in this context). It’s the only large structure of its kind in Britain. The tower was built of cast iron in the 1860s to help mariners sail safely in and out of Llanelli, on the far shore.

It replaced a lighthouse built in 1852, at a cost of £1,200. The exposed location meant the 1852 tower often needed repairs – including in 1857 after a ship struck it. By 1864, £400 to £500 had been spent on repairs. The dilapidated tower was demolished by a storm in December 1865, while the cast-iron lighthouse was still under construction nearby.

The tower is 13.4 metres (44ft) tall. It stands on a base of concrete and masonry. Several metres of the tower are submerged by each high tide. The iron tower needed many repairs in its early years, and additional metal straps were attached as reinforcements in the 1870s and 1880s. The lightkeeper reached the tower via a causeway, now largely eroded away.

The lighthouse was no longer in use by the Second World War, when the area east of Whiteford Point was an army firing range. Shells were fired from Crofty towards targets at Whiteford. After the war, unexploded shells were discovered many times and controlled explosions were occasionally carried out. Even today, you may notice warning signs about unexploded ammunition as you walk the coast path.

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