Worm’s Head off Rhossili in Gower is a large, hilly mass of land popular with walkers due to the amazing view it offers of the beautiful Rhossili Bay and headland.
However, every year, some visitors get stranded on Worm’s Head as they ignore the signs that warn them what time they need to leave the headland to get back to the mainland before the tide comes in.
At low tide, Worm’s Head is accessible via a rocky strip of land, but the access vanishes beneath the waves once the tide comes back in.
In 2022, there were five separate incidents where eight people got stranded on Worm’s Head. This year, there have already been two incidents involving a total of five people being stranded.
The hard-working volunteers from the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) Worm’s Head staff a small hut in the area and work in pairs to keep an eye on people as they explore the beautiful landscape.
They use a loud hailer to call people back to the mainland and also phone HM Coastguard at Milford Haven to summon help to rescue visitors trapped by the incoming tide. The NCI volunteers also work closely with local clifftop and mountain rescuers and the RNLI.
Ernie, one of the 37 active members of the NCI Worm’s Head, advised that people need to stay where they are if they become stranded on Worm’s Head.
He also explained that the causeway is only open for about four and a half hours a day, and visitors need to be careful with their timings. Ernie and his colleagues hope that raising awareness and educating people about the dangers of being stranded on Worm’s Head will help limit the number of people that get stuck there.
The National Coastwatch Institution is a voluntary organisation that monitors UK shores, and NCI watchkeepers provide “the eyes and ears along the coast,” monitor radio channels, and “provide a listening watch in poor visibility.” At Rhossili, there are usually two people on duty, one in the morning shift and one in the afternoon shift.
They watch for potential strandings and encourage people to come back. In 2021, they stopped 38 people from being stranded after they called them back, which could have resulted in a potential stranding, and the coastguard at Milford Haven was informed to forewarn them.
If you see someone in difficulty or in danger off the coast, you can report it to the coastwatch or coastguard if they have one where you are.
Alternatively, call 999 and report the incident that way. Visitors are welcome to stop by the NCI base at Worm’s Head to chat with volunteers and get more information.
People can also follow the NCI Worm’s Head on Facebook to stay updated on the latest information and advice.