Porth Colmon to Morfa Nefyn 30.6.22

This time we drive our car to Porth Colmon, leaving it in the tiny carpark. Our direction is north with the sea on our left, but before we even take the first few steps, we come up against our first hurdle. We do think it strange that the coast path sign is covered over but decide to carry on anyway only to be stopped in our tracks a little later by a sign saying the path is closed. Of course the effect on Damian is like that of a red flag on a bull so against my better judgement we decide to plough on (the alternative would be a long detour inland). Eventually we reach a gate with another warning sign and beyond this we can see a minor landslide which used to be a path.

I take a few hesitant steps down over the large chunks of rock and sand but end up on my bum to make sure I land safely on the beach. An exciting start to the day I could have done without!

The next section of the walk is along Penllach Beach – there are a few dog walkers around but otherwise it is deserted. From here we climb up onto the cliffs again, and walk along narrow paths where I worry about twisting my ankle. In some places the path, once muddy, has been churned up by sheep and then dried out to form hard strangely shaped clumps of soil topped with tufts of grass – we make slow progress.

At one point we look down on a beautiful secluded cove – Porth Gwylan – and think about stopping for lunch but it is a bit early.

Further on the path is so overgrown that it is difficult to see it, which makes me think that this part of the coast path has not been used for a while. It reminds me of the “paths” around the salt marshes and estuaries of Essex which I walked some years ago.

A little later we reach Porth Ysgaden, where the ruins of a small stone built house stands on the headland. I walk off the path to go and investigate, while Damian talks to cows. I later discover that the sole wall standing is the gable end of the old coastguard’s house. On one side a carved wooden bench has been placed and on the other side the blackened stones point to the position of the old fireplace.

On the other side of the headland is another pretty beach – Porth Towyn where we stop for a sandwich and a cup of coffee from the much loved thermos.

Onwards ever onwards we navigate a steep climb down and a scramble up the other side of Aber Geirch before finding ourselves on the outer reaches of a golf course – magic!

We skirt around the golf course and up a tarmac track to the clubhouse. Off to the left are people feeding in from a walk out to the pub on the isthmus of Porth Dinllaen which can only be reached on foot. Sadly we decide we are too tired to investigate and head down the road to Morfa Nefyn for a pint before getting a taxi back to our car.

Distance: 10 miles

Porth Colmon to Mynydd Mawr 29.6.22

We wake to a glorious day in our wonderful hotel in Aberdaron – the plan is to walk from Porth Colmon to Mynydd Mawr, where we finished back in March. There are no buses and no taxis and we are resigned to a circular walk which is always a little frustrating. However, overhearing our conversation about the dearth of public transport on the Llyn Peninsula, our friendly landlord jumps up and offers to drive us to the start of our walk – lovely man.

Porth Colmon is a quiet little cove with one summer house, outside of which a middle aged couple are eating their breakfast and reading newspapers. It almost feels like an intrusion when we arrive in the car – we start to walk up the path (quietly). Up onto the cliffs we walk briskly south, past a handful of small coves, through clouds of wild flowers that my photos never do justice to so most of the time I don’t bother.

Porth Wen Bach, Porth Ty Mawr, Porth Widin and Porth Ferin fall beneath our boots until we are brought to a halt by this unusual signpost – I wonder if anybody was ever caught on the close circuit camera scribbling this particular witticism.

Just around the headland lies Porth Iago, a beautiful sandy beach and crystal clear water.

By now it is very hot and we are both hungry, so after great deliberation we find somewhere to spread out and eat our lunch. To my dismay, just around the corner is the loveliest beach cafe with toilets! The beach is called Porthor, otherwise known as Whistling Sands and as we approach it I suddenly hear whistling. No, it can’t be and no it wasn’t – the whistling was coming from a gentleman out to sea, relaxing on his rubber ring.

Apparently, the beach got its name from a phenomenon that occurs during very dry spells when the sand makes a distinct squeaking noise as you walk over it. This is caused by the unusual shape of the sand grains and there are only one of two beaches in Europe where this effect can be observed. 

On we go, following the coast path which now wends its way inland through wide stretches of fern and heather only to twist back again to the coast. We are now tired and not relishing the thought of the last stretch of this walk which will be on a tarmac road back to the hotel.

Our point of reference is the stargazing spot where we finished a walk in this area two months ago – it’s on the top of the last headland and it looks very very far away.

Anyway, there is no way out but through so up we go, passing the last Porth for today and eventually the concrete road that leads up to Mynydd Mawr, our destination.

Turning away from the coast we follow the road down for two painful miles until we reach Aberdaron and a pint or two of cold lager. A bit of light relief is provided by this “tim’rous beastie” (well a small rabbit) that hopped out of the hedgerow to say hello.

Distance: 14 miles

Y Felinheli to Bangor 27.7.22

Yes it’s raining as we step out of the bus from Bangor on to the bleak high street of Y Felinheli, a small town halfway between Caernarfon and Bangor. Turning right at the post office we head down to the Marina and get our first view of the Menai Straits.

This is the second time in two days that we have walked past massive wooden locks like these. The first was in Manchester, where we waved goodbye to my daughter and family who had come from Denmark for my niece’s wedding. That time we stopped to watch from a canal bridge as two beautifully decorated long boats slowly made their way through the gates, with the help of a couple of people on the wharf using ropes and pulleys.

From the Marina we follow the Welsh Coast Path signs through a long stretch of woodland and through gaps in the foliage I get glimpses of the Straits to our left.

At one such viewpoint an unusual bench has been placed – built to allow for a clear view over the wall in front. It reminds me of a few of the most recent benches in Copenhagen which have impossibly high seats in an attempt to highlight rising sea levels due to climate change.

A while later we walk under the bulky undercarriage of the Britannia Bridge. Built in 1850, some 20 years after the Menai Straits Bridge, this bridge was specifically for rail rather than road traffic over the Straits. Originally designed and built by the noted railway engineer Robert Stephenson, its importance was to enable trains to directly travel between London and the port of Holyhead, thus facilitating a sea link to Dublin. In the early 70s it was destroyed by fire and almost completely rebuilt as both a rail and road bridge.

The path now leads us down into Treborth Botanical Gardens where we are met by this amenable chap holding a “Torch of Peace”. This is one of two identical bronze statues, the other is 10 miles away in Llanberis, both of which were inaugurated in 2019 to celebrate an ongoing commitment to world peace.

On the edge of the gardens stands two or three of these majestic oak trees which according to the information board are Lucombe Oaks. Apparently the first Lucombe oak was planted in Exeter around 1763 by a nurseryman called William Lucombe. All true Lucombe oaks today are clones of that original tree, grown in some way from grafts or cuttings. Lucombe himself cut down the original tree but kept the planks under his bed, to make his own coffin. But according to Wikipedia he lived to be 102 and by then the wood had rotted, so timber from one of his younger Lucombe oak clones was used.

Pretty soon the Menai Straits Suspension Bridge emerges from the trees and bushes – far prettier than the Pont Britannia. Built in 1826 by Thomas Telford this was the first iron suspension bridge in the world and proved to be a valuable alternative to ferries that were forced to navigate four different tides in both directions. We stand and marvel for a couple of minutes.

From the bridge we follow the signs down through Nantporth Nature Reserve and down to an area of parkland which, along with some university buildings and houses of affluence, makes up Upper Bangor.

Soon the cast iron columns of Garth Pier come into view through the grey mist of early evening. Threatened with demolition in 1971 Bangor Council managed to secure a Grade II listing for the pier which is free to access although there is an honesty box at the entrance. The second photo is from Google and shows the pier in more detail. The small kiosks have been occupied by a cafe, artists studios and a fishing tackle shop none of which are open when we visit.

This has been an interesting walk but I can also feel that I haven’t walked for a few months and discovered that my dear old boots have sprung a leak!

Distance: 9 miles

Aberdaron to Mynydd y Gwyddel 12.3.22

Another windy day dawns on the Llyn Peninsula, our last day in fact, before we drive back to London. It will also be a shortish walk as there is no public transport from here on and the taxis cost a fortune. This means that we will be following the coast for a while and then turning inland to make it a circular walk. Anyway, it’s a lovely morning as we walk through the village and down to the beach.

At this point Damian and have a quick disagreement on the best way to go and we part company as I don’t like the look of the steep steps from the beach up onto the cliff. So I turn off right up a tarmac lane, turn left on to the cliff path and negotiate a few muddy puddles before realising that the path is taking me down to the beach and up the very same steep steps. Fortunately I cannot see a trace of triumph in Damian’s face. I am also quite glad I had chosen this route because at the top of the tarmac lane I spy some graffiti in Welsh that I plan to investigate.

Talking to staff at the hotel later on I discover that these two words can be found at numerous sites throughout Wales but that they originated in the valleys of South Wales. A Wiki search reveals that the slogan appeared in the early 60’s on the site of a ruined cottage and was painted by Meic Stephens, a Welsh writer, in response to the flooding of the Tryweryn valley by the Liverpool City Council. The move was made without consulting the Welsh authorities. Since then it has been associated with Welsh nationalism and in particular Plaid Cymru (the militant group responsible for burning English owned holiday cottages in Wales).

Here is the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cofiwch_Dryweryn

History lesson over – we are now looking down on Aberdaron before continuing along the cliff path.

Our first landmark is Porth Simdde followed by Porth Meudwy, Porth Cloch and Porth Pistyll – all small inlets along the way. At the first of these we look down on two substantial boats pulled up onto the sand. There is a little stone cottage, a tractor and piles of lobster pots but no-one around.

We carry on along the stony path until we reach Pen y Cil, the very tip of the peninsula – hurray!

Just off the coast is the island of Carreg Ddu (Black Stone) and here’s Damian, waiting for me to catch up.

A drop……………………………

By now the landscape has opened up into an wide open area called Mynedd y Gwyddel and this is where we will join the road to take us back to Aberdaron. The sweep of land is wild and beautiful – there is a weighted silence in the air which cuts through the wind somehow. In the distance there are people walking………

After wandering around in this wilderness we eventually find a concrete path and some stone steps, remains of some military installation, to take us up to the spot where we can join the road. Apparently, this is where people come star gazing as there is very little interference from artificial light.

We start walking down the road – Damian gets involved in talking to the animals again.

A couple of miles later we are back in the village…………………..

Distance: 4 miles (plus two miles road walking)

Plas yn Rhiw to Aberdaron 11.3.22

So here we are back at Plas yn Rhiw to walk west this time – and the house and gardens are still closed.

We leave the car in the carpark and walk up the road a short while until we reach the turn off left into the woods. The path is relatively dry but the fallen trees, the stone wall and rocks are covered with a firm layer of moss – it feels ancient.

Through the trees we catch sight of the coast where we walked yesterday – Hell’s Mouth is over there in the distance.

After a while we reach a kissing gate that takes us out to the wild country – a large area of unspoilt heath owned by the National Trust.

And this is where we take a wrong turn and end up tramping alongside a stone wall on a very muddy path. I have been thinking about getting some new boots for a while and this is where I finalise the decision – a trickle of muddy water starts seeping in to my left boot. Oh well, what to do …….

The area we are walking through now is marked on the map as Mynydd Penarfynydd and it is here that the Welsh Coast Path signs bring us right down to the tip of a small headland, where the path seems to stop and the only way onwards is, well, back.

Battling the wind we retrace our footsteps only to discover that the path is directing us through a farmyard with two dogs that bark every time we make a move to go through the gate.

I consult the map again but it only confirms my fears. There is a car parked in the yard and I try shouting for attention to no avail. Eventually after trying to find other ways of getting to the other side, Damian decides to go for it and grabbing my walking pole he opens the gate, strides purposefully down the grassy slope and across the yard. I scuttle after him keeping my eyes averted and pretending all this is not happening, a bit like the rabbits in Watershed Down. The dogs are completely disinterested, not a peep…………………..I spend the next 5 minutes muttering about irresponsible farmers but we are now on a DRY track leading to a DRY tarmac road so all is well in the world.

After that little adventure the path is straightforward, twisting its way along the top of the cliffs, past small coves and headlands until we can see a long beach and Aberdaron in the distance.

Just before the beach the path goes inland crossing a minor road to Aberdaron where we decide to take the road because it is in fact closer to the coast. Just before we do we are directed through a field of young bullocks and Damian decides to say hello.

The road down into the village goes past the church and graveyard – it is close to sunset and I notice that all the headstones are in fact facing west – a nice idea.

After a quick pint in our hotel a taxi takes us back to pick up the car and half an hour later we are shown into a lovely hotel room with a view of the bay and hills beyond.

Distance: 9 miles

Plas yn Rhiw to Abersoch 10.3.22

It is important on these walks to end up in a place where there is a cafe or pub to rest while waiting for the bus or a taxi. This is why we are walking in the opposite direction today as the National Trust house, gardens and cafe are closed for the winter. Having been quoted £40 for a 15 minute taxi drive (in areas like this they have to come from miles away), our wonderful host steps in and offers to drive us. She lets us out in the carpark of Plas yn Rhiw and we start walking back up the road for a couple of miles before turning off to follow the Welsh Coast Path signs back to the coast.

The first primroses of spring line the road……………

At first it’s pretty easy to follow the signs through spanking new kissing gates (yes I did get one) but soon they peter out and we find ourselves wandering around in muddy fields trying to find the path.

Our progress is followed with interest by pairs of delightful little lambs, trembling with anxiety as they respond to their mothers’ urgent cries. I swear never to eat lamb again………

Eventually we arrive at Towyn, which seems to be made up of a farmhouse, a caravan site and a bridge.

…….and from here it’s a nice uncomplicated tarmac road down to the carpark at the eastern end of Porth Neigwl beach. Known to the locals as “Hell’s Mouth” this is a long curving, almost semi-circular bay which the Welsh Coast Path avoids, perhaps because it is known for its ferocious winds and dangerous swimming conditions. The label “Hells Mouth” either derives from the physical relief of the bay, which can look like an open mouth, or the fact that this area is thought to have been the scene of as many as 30 shipwrecks over the last 180 years. 

We walk parallel to the end of the beach along a track through the dunes – coming down onto the beach for a short while and then up onto the cliffs.

Half way up we stop for lunch by a ruined house which protects us from the wind – this is not supposed to be a video, my finger slipped.To our delight there is a bench to sit on with an inscription which makes me laugh.

By now we have realised that we still have a long way to go before we reach Abersoch – another 6 miles to be exact, which is not a lot on flat land but I can see from my OS map that there will be quite a few steep ascents and descents.

Anyway, onwards ever onwards, it is encouraging that we are now following a wide grassy path through the heath and heather and we make good progress.

……….but very soon we’re back to narrow rocky paths following the cliff and then we start to count headlands – will we see Abersoch around the next headland? I’m afraid not……….

There are also other “situations” to deal with – this sign prompted a useful bit of acceleration.

Relief at coming out the other side intact………………………..

After a couple more miles we turn the corner at Trwyn yr Wylfa and celebrate with a sort of selfie, making use of the long shadows of late afternoon. The two islands are St.Tudwal’s East and West, named after St. Tudwal who travelled to Ireland to learn the scriptures, and then became a hermit on the Eastern island, where remains of a priory can still be seen.

Very, very tired we reach the stony beach at Machroes and walk alongside the golf course into Abersoch. I have just enough energy to stop and take a photo of this wonderful tree house.

It has been a strenuous walk and the pint in St.Tudwal’s Inn is divine………….even the loud music doesn’t bother me.

Distance: 14 miles

Pwllheli to Abersoch 9.3.22

Leaving our car parked alongside the harbour we walk down to the sea and along the promenade. There is a fierce wind coming off the sea so we decide not to walk along the beach. Before setting off we take a minute to read some of the small epitaphs written on pebbles which are firmly glued onto a circular stone wall with benches.

The path continues behind the dunes for about 2 miles – we meet a few dog walkers, heads bent against the wind. A few derelict houses line the path and I wonder why they haven’t been snapped up to rebuild as holiday homes but maybe this one would be too much of a project.

After a while the path climbs higher up on to the cliffs and we can see the spread of houses which make up Llanbedrog in the distance.

The path leads us down to the beach where we head for a pretty white washed building which looks like a chapel but on closer inspection turns out to be a house.

At the end of the beach are a set of rickety wooden steps that lead us up past a shuttered beach cafe and up into a very welcome patch of woodland which bears the brunt of most of the wind.

Up past the church the road leads us into the grounds of a Victorian Gothic mansion, Plas Glyn Y Weddw, which now houses an art gallery, shop and cafe. Built in 1879 the house has been through two or three reincarnations but in 1979 the artist Gwyneth ap Tomos and her husband Dafydd bought it and through their hard work saved the house and grounds from becoming a ruin. On a large granite boulder in front of the house sits a beautiful bronze sculpture of a young girl. Like the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen she has apparently suffered at the hands of vandals when in 2003 she was sawn off the boulder and stolen. Fortunately she was found again and reinstated.

And beside the house is another vision of womanhood…………..

After a browse around the gallery we come out of the house and walk through the grounds, past the little open air theatre and up a flight of stone steps into woodland.

This is a lovely peaceful stretch, the woods full of birdsong. At one point we have to make a decision on direction as the signposts had fallen over, but after a quick consultation of the map we plumb for the very steep crumbling set of steps up to the right.

Soon we are out of the woods (so to speak) and up on to a headland looking back at Llanbedrog. A strange metal statue/sculpture marks the spot – I really can’t work out what it is – maybe a woman holding a baby?

After a couple of miles we are looking down on a long row of what look like holiday homes. This is the Warren, a holiday park just outside Abersoch with owner occupied lodges costing upwards of 800 thousand pounds. The houses themselves are not particularly interesting but what a location!

Anyway, we are now very tired having not stopped for lunch and the soft sand is difficult to walk on. Up ahead is Abersoch but as we trudge wearily along it never seems to get any closer. Eventually we see a track through the dunes, up past the lifeboat station and into the village.

Diving into the post office for some sandwiches we discover that the bus back to Pwllheli is due any minute – and here it comes only 2 minutes late. We are soon reunited with our car to drive back to LLanbedrog where we are staying the night.

Distance: 10 miles

Penychain to Pwllheli 8.3.22

From our hotel in Cricceth we take the train to Penychain, where we started last time on our walk to Porthmadog – this time we are walking in the opposite direction. I am amazed that the train actually stops here because as far as I can see there is nothing but a lone farmhouse, which we pass by a few minutes later. However, on closer examination of the map I realise that there is a camping site close by so I guess all those happy campers are grateful for this service.

Anyway, after getting a bit lost we find ourselves back on a wide grassy path which leads down to the sea.

…………………a single post points us in the right direction.

……and soon we are back on the beach with a straight run into Pwllheli.

Up behind the sand dunes we can see signs of habitation – wooden lodges protected from any rogue tides by heavy granite boulders.

After a couple of miles we are directed off the beach and up into the sand dunes and soon we can see Pwllheli harbour. Presiding over the harbour is an interesting looking building which turns out to be Plas Heli, the Welsh National Sailing Academy.

This is a non-profit community enterprise with facilities for fund raising events, storage for local sailing clubs and boating experiences for children.

As we walk along the rather bleak seafront to the station it starts to rain and I am glad we are going no further today. Fingers crossed for sunshine tomorrow.

Distance: 4 miles

Glan yr Afon to Porthmadog 21.1.22

Damian drops me off at the bus stop where we stopped last night and I head down a track running along the edge of Porthmadog golf course. It is early and there is no-one out – golf buggies stand waiting expectantly.

Ten minutes later I am back to one of the meandering courses of the River Afon. It is a peaceful morning with no wind – I suddenly feel a surge of morning joy as I look over the tranquil water.

To the right is the headland we planned to walk around yesterday – I can see the path winding through the scrub.

To the left the path climbs away from the beach through low woodland – at one point it rises steeply and when I get to the top I take one last look at the bay beneath me.

A mile on the trees thin out and I walk into the pretty little village of Borth-y-Gest just outside Porthmadog.

And from here it’s just a hop and a skip into Porthmadog Harbour…………………………….

I ring Damian and we arrange to meet for a coffee in Porthmadog’s Hard Rock Cafe (yes really) before driving back to London.

Distance: 3 miles

Penychain to Glan yr afon 21.1.22

Glen yr afon consists of a knot of houses and a bus stop, roughly two miles west of Porthmadog – but more on that later.

We alight from the train at Penychain which, as you may have guessed, is pronounced completely differently from the way you might imagine – the last syllable sounds like you’re clearing your throat. From here we walk down a track which then peters out into fields until we manage to locate the Welsh coast path going east.

From here follows a lovely quiet walk along a beach………………….

……………………….until the path takes us upwards and onwards past another of the many caravan parks along this coast. All of these static caravans are green, which may be an attempt to blend in, who knows.

Right next to the holiday park is the sewage works (I bet they didn’t put that in the brochure) and it is here that the path turns away from the coast and up to a busy main road at Afon Wen.

There now follows about 2 miles of walking along a road which has no redeeming features whatsoever and in desperation I try to find some energising music on my phone which may make it a little more bearable. It works for a while and then the noise of the traffic takes over.

Finally we reach Llanystumdwy (another mouthful) where we are directed off down to the coast again.

The path now continues on boardwalks over marshland until we arrive at a spot overlooking Cricceth Beach which is not an inspiring sight.

I am assuming the caves described by the Welsh poet Robert Graves (thank you Sharon) must be on the other side of the headland…….


…………….but we are so desperate for a cup of tea and something to eat, that we head straight for the nearest cafe.

Past some colourful houses and the castle, which looks to be in far worse shape than the one at Harlech but then maybe it looks better from the other side.

This catches my eye on the roof of a hotel nearby – I have no idea whether it’s an English or a Welsh knight and indeed the castle has fallen into the hands of both nations through time, but it does seem to me to be a strange thing to put on the roof of a hotel and isn’t his spear pointing backwards?

Coming out of the cafe, where we have spent far too much time, we realise with sinking hearts that we may not manage to get to Porthmadog before nightfall. After a lot of deliberation and consultation of the map, we decide to give it a go and set off at a spanking pace up the road, over a little stone bridge to follow the railway line.

The golden late afternoon light casts long shadows and it’s a pity we have to rush… Damian looks like he’s practically sprinting.

The path winds up around the left hand flank of Graig Ddu (Black Rock) which has given its name to the wonderful two mile long beach on the other side.

Following a meandering narrow road down to the beach seems to take forever but finally we are there, along with a cluster of cars all out for cruising along the sand and a few screeching handbrake turns.

It is very strange walking along a beach with a car coming towards you……

About a mile up the beach we start thinking we’ll have to stop, as the last part of the walk is through woodland where there won’t be much light and we are also very tired. As it happens the decision is taken out of hands when we come up against a wide, fairly deep ribbon of water running across the beach and out to sea.

Turning left up into another holiday park we spend 20 minutes trying to get out and up onto the main road into Porthmadog. Like a bad dream we go round and round the silent empty caravan park, coming up against high metal fences at every turn. It is dark and I can feel hysteria rising. Eventually, Damian finds a missing link in the fence where we can crawl through, pick our way over some brambles and finally hit a gravel track which will take us up to the main road. Once back on track we now have a choice – we can either walk along the road in the dark (which I’m not keen on) or call a taxi (which feels like failure). Suddenly a green metal structure which looks very much like a bus stop, looms out of the darkness – and there’s a bus in five minutes – yes!!!

True to form the bus is only 5 mins late and drops us off very close to our car. Over a pint in the local pub it is decided that I would finish the walk the following morning, while Damian takes his car for a wash and brush up. To be continued……….

Distance: 11 miles