I POKED my head out of the tent and rubbed my blurry eyes.
It was an inspiring sight to wake up to – the best campsite view in the world.
A spine of land protrudes from the lush green coastline, its tip of jagged crags plunging into the sea.
Waves break onto the sandy cove and a winding river shimmers in the morning sunlight, flanked by rolling dunes.
The scene is dramatic and distinctive, as if intentionally created by a master landscaper.
I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world, experiencing a coastline paradise in some far flung land.
But I was actually only a few hours from home.
The Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park in the Gower Peninsula, South Wales, had been my stop for the night – and it lived up to its glowing reputation.
It was voted the campsite with the best view in the world by The Independent in 2006.
And, while that might have been a slight exaggeration, there is no doubting that the elevated site on cliffs overlooking the bay offers top notch panoramas.
I was visiting with my wife Becky for an impromptu weekend break.
Our energetic plan was to walk a small section of the Wales Coast Path, a long-distance route that snakes along 870-miles of beautiful Welsh coastline.
We sampled only a fraction of the famous waymarked footpath but experienced both the good and the bad.
Three Cliffs Bay – the beach we’d been drooling over from the cliffs of the campsite – was a real highlight.
Blue skies, soft white sand, fresh sea air and, most of all, the eye-catching rocky headland made it the perfect start to our trek on the Saturday.
It wasn’t over-crowded either – the lack of a car park within touching distance proving a real blessing – and it felt like a deserted wilderness compared to the coastline rambles we’d recently taken in Bournemouth and Blackpool.
Rocky cape Penmaen Burrows and the picturesque Tor Bay, both of which neighbour Three Cliffs Bay, were similarly special.
The former offered stunning views of the long sandy beaches towards Oxwich Bay while the latter was, in my eyes, another beach transformed from good to great by the impressive cliffs rising out of the sea.
No list of Gower’s hotspots would however be complete without a mention for the supermodel of British beaches.
Rhossili Bay, which we walked the length of on Sunday, has been voted Britain’s best beach for two years in a row on TripAdvisor and even picked up an accolade for the ninth best beach worldwide.
It was certainly beautiful – a three-mile stretch of perfect white shores with views of the sea-serpent shaped promontory Worm’s Head – but we enjoyed it most for the wildlife.
We spotted scuttling crabs, discovered beached jellyfish and marvelled at hundreds of starfish, all of which added to our experience of this much-hyped beach.
There were however a couple of downsides to our time walking in the Gower Peninsula.
We endured, rather than enjoyed, the non-stop sea breeze and some sections were bordering on touristy.
The beach at Oxwich Bay was more crowded than further east and our loop around Oxwich Point was a little underwhelming.
An ice-cream van and an overflowing car park at Rhossili Bay also spoilt the illusion of getting away from it all.
But on the whole our walks along the Wales Coast Path were incredibly memorable.
Becky dramatically labelled it “possibly the best weekend ever” on her Facebook profile and I’ve already put a return visit onto my ever-growing bucket list of outdoor adventures.
Our choice of campsite also added to our positive experience of the Gower Peninsula.
I was initially a bit dubious of Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park.
On arrival I was struck by the array of shiny and sexy VW camper vans, expensive motorhomes and glamping-esque tents – and it seemed like a gigantic competition to see who had the best set-up and coolest equipment.
But these concerns proved unfounded.
The toilet and shower facilities were faultless, the staff in the on-site shop served with a smile and our fellow campers were a friendly bunch. Wi-Fi was even available throughout the camping fields.
Character was combined professionalism and, despite the price tag of £23 per night for our large tent, it was easily worth every penny.
In fact it was an absolute bargain – I’d happily pay a small fortune to wake up to the best campsite view in the world.