Gower was designated in 1956 as the UK's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Early Purple Orchid, Gower Peninsula
The Gower Peninsula covers 188 sq km and was selected as the first AONB for its classic coastline (much of it is Heritage Coast) and its outstanding natural environment (33% is National Nature Reserve or a Site of Special Scientific Interest).
The Peninsula's richly varied natural environment is renowned for its heathland, limestone grassland, fresh- and salt-water marshes, dunes and oak woodlands. Its mixed geology has given rise to a wide variety of scenery in a relatively small landscape area. Dramatic limestone cliffs, interspersed with sandy beaches and rocky shores, dominate its southern coast. In the north, the coast is low-lying with extensive salt marshes and dune systems.
There are at least 1200 archaeological sites in the AONB of different periods and types. These include caves, Iron Age forts, medieval castles, churches, a lighthouse and 19th Century parks. 73 of these are of national importance, with 124 listed buildings.
The western part of the AONB is included in the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales, for the rich evidence of a long sequence of land use and occupation from the prehistoric to industrial periods. This includes Iron Age forts and a surviving medieval open field system (known as the Vile, near Rhossili).
Limestone coastal flora, Gower Peninsula
The Pennard Pill at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula
Whiteford dunes, North Gower