Falling in love with the Llŷn Peninsula

29 July 2022

The Llŷn Peninsula points out into the Irish Sea like a giant green finger unfurling from the hand of the North Welsh coast. Travelling into this part of Wales gives a growing sense of remoteness as evidence of human dwellings reduce and sheep appear to outnumber people. The undulating landscape of the Llŷn is generously draped with a patchwork blanket of lush greens adorned by woolly flocks of grazing creatures. The rich greens are watered, no doubt, by an abundance of “liquid sunshine”. Invigorated by this wet Welsh blessing, we tucked our vests in and set off from our comfortable base near Mynytho to explore the nooks and knuckles of a seemingly endless coastline.

Morfa Nefyn and Porth Dinllaen

Morfa Nefyn sits right on the coast and although it feels remote it has a large car park, public toilets, cliff top picnic area and a café just a stone's throw inland. Heading out from there, we followed a waymarked path with a gradual incline. It took us through a velvet green golf course, that eventually descended into the delightful coastal village of Porth Dinllaen.

This historic fishing port boasts a rich heritage, long views across the Irish sea and a traditional tavern on the beach. Nestled against the hills the Ty Coch Inn is on the Coastal Path and can be reached on foot. Our walk was cut slightly short by the rising tide, but a sunny outdoor lunch to the sound of lapping waves and calling sea birds was a special treat.


Aberdaron is quirky coastal village located towards the southern tip of the Llŷn Peninsula. A pleasing handful of taverns and shops are nestled around ancient waterways along with a modern exhibition centre, Aberdaron is a fascinating place to explore. We found refuge in the beachfront terrace of the Gwesty Ty Newydd hotel, the heated and fully glazed terrace sits in between two magnificent headlands and affords panoramic views across the vast sandy bay at Aberdaron. A friendly Welsh waitress served us warmed Welsh tea bread known as Bara brith. It's a sort of fruit cake and this particular version had cherries in it! Along with fresh Welsh butter, a huge pot of tea, big skies and the natural theatre of crashing waves, this was a dramatic spot for a tea break.

Next door to the Gwesty Ty Newydd Hotel is St Hywyn's church, sometimes referred to as “The Cathedral of Llŷn”. We heaved aside the heavy door of this Grade One listed building and stepped into the ancient space. The thick stone walls hushed the roar of the ocean and the roar in our heads. Wrapped in the silence, we sat to pause and ponder anew.


As we set off early for the coastal town and broad sandy beach at Abersoch, the locals had already pegged their laundry out. I took this as proof of a warm day ahead and dug out the Factor 50. A mooch around the town centre revealed a trendy vibe with places to buy coffee, clothes and surfing gear. The strongest overall impression Abersoch gave was that of a sailing and water sports community. From the tidy town centre, we followed the coastal pathway markers through a pleasant leafy suburb and out onto the beach.

We headed down the beach and aimed for The Little Tea Rooms at Mickey’s Boat Yard. The tide was in and a section of the beach was cut off so we detoured onto a well-worn sand dune track for about 200 yards, before scrambling back down to sea level. When we arrived at the tea rooms, there was a buzz of excitement as three dolphins had just been spotted playing in rough waters at the base of the old lifeboat station slipway. Cameras and binoculars were poised at the ready. I didn't see the dolphins but at least now I have seen the excitement of someone who just has!

Speed diving gannets and swooping sand martins kept us entertained with their aerobatics. We lingered over a wonderful Welsh rarebit brunch and marvelled at the turning tide. Light levels rose steadily throughout the day, popping bright blues and lush greens out of the hazy landscape. The sun warmed the air. Atmospheric mists were burned off. Pixel by pixel the dramatic mountain scape of mainland Wales was manifest atop the sea's horizon, hovering like a mirage, never quite coming sharply into focus.


A gloriously sunny walk along rural footpaths took us through farmland and up to the heather-covered expanse of Mynytho Common. A steady ascent brought an impressive dome-like hill into our sight lines. We speculated that it might be some kind of ancient monument or burial ground. Following a steep scree scramble up to the top, a sign board revealed that it was the remnants of an old volcano known as Foel Gron. It had felt quite a climb to the top so I was pleased to discover later that it is in fact a respectable hill-bagging 636ft tall! Views from the summit were a wonderful reward for our efforts. Southern Llŷn, Cardigan Bay, Abersoch and Hell's Mouth were all clearly visible. Mountains, pastures, heathland and dramatic coastline appeared woven together in a panoramic fusion of beauty and wildness. It was pure bliss.


Pwllheli is a busy market town with strong sailing and water sport vibes, South-facing beaches, a marina, historic harbour, boat yards and a fab chippy. We walked along the smart, mainly residential, promenade and accessed the wide sandy beach through a short run of sand dunes. The early evening beach was empty apart from two surfers who entertained us with their antics. From there we headed back into town, followed our noses to Allthorpes Chippy, then enjoyed eating our fish and chip supper overlooking the marina.


Our final stop before leaving the Llŷn Peninsula was at Criccieth. Overlooking the sea from the terrace at Swn y Mor Cafe we enjoyed elevenses. Coffee and tasty homemade Welsh cakes were freshly made to order and served warm with Welsh butter. We got some Bara brith for our onward journey. This version was slightly less fruity, a bit like Parkin, but more delicious. A blowy sea front walk, lots of bracing fresh air and we set off home, having fallen totally in love with the Llŷn Peninsula.