Lleyn Peninsula Coastal Path, Part 3
From Rhiw to Porthmadog
|Happily when we woke up the next morning, at Penarfynedd Farm, we looked out the window to see no fog, no rain, and the view that we'd seen pictured. The idyllic scene including this farm and the sea out to Bardsey Island is on many postcards, as well as web sites. Ursula fixed us good breakfasts and we were off. First, though, Thann spent some time making a substitute for his broken gaiter strap.|
We were soon back in fields with mothers and new lambs:
After we rounded a headland we could see the beach called Porth Neigwl, or Hell's Mouth. The name in English reflects the large number of shipwrecks here during the days of sailing ships. We knew that we would have several miles of walking along this beach, and wondered whether it was possible at high tide (which we figured it was about to be). We peered at the beach, trying to see how wide or narrow it was.
|Almost an hour later, after walking through the edge of the village of Rhiw and down a long lane, we finally came to a path down to the beach. We weren't much heartened by the signs:|
The soil here is boulder clay, and it's splitting off in great chunks. It was hard even walking (skidding and sliding) down to the beach on the slippery clay. But as it turned out, the walk along the beach was superb! We enjoyed it thoroughly. The stones seemed especially colorful to us. The clay cliffs beside us were tremendously interesting, with their weird shapes.
|There were marvellous objects on the beach - clay balls covered with little stones. They were clearly chunks that had come off the cliffs and rolled down the beach, becoming more nearly spherical and picking up stones as they rolled. We have no idea how much time would be involved in this process. It was fascinating.|
|We continued enjoying the shapes made by the boulder cliffs. Here Thann is standing beside the remains of a cliff, the remains now looking like a sand castle.|
|One funny theme of the beach walk turned out to be the finding of potential straps for Thann's gaiter. The first one we spotted was a yellow band that was buried in the sand. We couldn't pull it out, so we dug the knife out of my pack and cut off a suitable length. But then after that we spotted more and more straps, the right length, just waiting there for us to pick them up. Truly amazing!|
We finally came to the end of the beach, 3 1/2 miles enjoyable miles later. We climbed back inland, around another headland.
We were on little lanes for a few miles - you have to pull in your tummy when large vehicles come along!
and yet another beautiful beach (Porth Ceiriad):
And then a few miles later we were in Abersoch for the night.
The next morning it began drizzling as we passed Abersoch Harbor, soon after we started.
Our B&B host had thought that the beach might be impassable because of the tide, so we walked on the road for a mile or so. We found our way down to the beach through a development of modern villas and the sand seemed plenty wide enough. We had a pleasant walk of almost a mile before turning inland. The beach ended abruptly at a steep-sided hill. We walked beside the hill until we found a steep path going up it. At the top the path turned right and contoured around the edge of the hill for over a mile.
Our only frustration was that it was raining and windy, somewhat spoiling what were surely glorious views. We finally arrived at the "Iron Man". A young couple had come up from the other side, and offered to take our picture. We had read about this sculpture, and seen photos of it, but it has changed since the photos we'd seen. It has gone through several iterations of decay and replacement - this one was put up in 2002. There's no real story behind it; it's just for fun! The town behind us in the photo is Llanbedrog, where we soon arrived, after a steep but stepped descent.
|In Llanbedrog we first went to an art gallery we had read about. It's "Plas Glyn y Weddw", in a Victorian mansion. When we walked up we were intimidated by the well-dressed people we saw going in and out. A kind woman asked whether we were going in, and we said that we were worried about our muddy state. She assured us emphatically that we would be welcome, so in we went.|
|We saw the exhibits and then treated ourselves to a cream tea, with scones and bara brith. It was just perfect - hot tea to warm us up and good food to cheer us up. It was much later when we set out again.|
The beach huts of Llanbedrog were still stored in a parking lot before being moved to the beach for the season. Even so, their back sides gave a colorful display:
is St Pedrog's. In the Celtic church, the term
"saint" wasn't formalized as in the Roman
church. Saints were missionaries, or led pilgrimages, or
were particularly holy people. The town, Llanbedrog, is
named for St Pedrog. "Llan" means either an
enclosure or a church or churchyard. The swap of
"b" for "p" is an example of one of
the difficulties of the Welsh language - the beginning
letters of words often mutate, depending on what precedes
We happened to arrive at the church at the same time as the organist, who was going in to fetch something. We chatted with her, and then after we left, when we were walking on up the road, she came by in her car and gave us a leaflet about the church. Very kind!
The next beach, between Llanbedrog and Pwllheli, has an alternative path. In Victorian times there was a horse-drawn tram that ran between the two towns. The track was washed away during a violent storm in 1927, but the track bed is still walkable for much of the way. We started off along the beach, and looked for a way up to the tramway. We scrambled up the boulders and happily found it (here's a picture back along the beach, after we got up the rocks), and walked along it until it seemed to disappear.
Then it was back onto the beach for the last few miles into Pwllheli.
|The next day we were on the beach east of Pwllheli, and it turned out to have lots and lots of beautiful shells. We looked them up after we came home, and we think they were Irish Flat Scallop shells.|
|There were several possible routes on our map for coming inland. We tried the first, on a little path we found up through the dunes.|
The path disappeared after a while, and we scrambled back down for another half-mile of beach walking, till we found another route up and inland.
After some farm walking and then several miles of road walking, we were on the Lôn Goed, or Wood Lane. This is a pleasant tree-lined lane, extending for four miles.
|We turned off of it after a couple of miles, and were for a while in a dark, mossy woods. The small road we were on led down to a bridge across the Afon Dwyfach. We crossed the bridge in the direction toward Llanystumdwy (hard to see in the photo). By the way, be sure to pronounce the first "y" something like the u in "but". And the "u" like the i in "in".|
We soon arrived in Llanystumdwy, with its pretty bridge across the Afon Dwyfor.
|We detoured very slightly to revisit the grave site and memorial for David Lloyd George. It's above the River Dwyfor, and it's said that Lloyd George used to sit on this stone and ponder.|
An hour later we were walking toward Cricieth Castle; soon we were in Cricieth, one of our favorite places.
|From the window of our B&B, there was a view not only of Cricieth Castle, but also of the railway, making Thann very happy. Well, we didn't quite see the railway, but it was just below the hedge beside the house. The trains were barely audible; it was more like a purr when they went by.|
A friend had told us of the cromlech in a field near our route out of Cricieth. We found it hiding behind a gorse bush:
|We walked beside the railway, crossed it (looking back toward Cricieth Castle), walked up and over a little hill (Graig Ddu), and then were back again on a beach.|
|We were surprised to see that cars are allowed on this beach, Black Rock Sands.|
After a while the cars were no longer allowed. The sand formed interesting patterns. We had read in a leaflet that we should aim for a red life belt at the end of the beach. We finally saw it, aimed for it, and climbed up to it.
Beyond it was a path, which we followed, over dunes,
around the harbor of Borth-y-Gest, through ship builders' yards, and finally to Porthmadog harbor, the end of the walk.