August Bank Holiday 2016 Llŷn Peninsula Gwynedd North Wales
The Llŷn Peninsula extends some 30 miles into the Irish Sea and I am told on a very clear day you can see the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. In my humble opinion its a place of outstanding natural beauty. Being on the gulf stream this is also one of the sunniest places in the UK. From glorious blue, to broody grey, the changing light adds to the drama of this stunning landscape.
Craggy rocks atop a hill afford a view through purple heaters and fading grassy mounds to mountains beyond.
Beetle on lichen covered rock. This one has some really cool twists!
On a visit to The Llŷn peninsula in Gwynedd Wales over the August bank holiday weekend I couldn’t help thinking how much the landscape and topography reminded me of Cornwall. That set me to thinking that somehow this area of Wales is missing a trick. This was my first visit to this part of Wales and to be honest it was never really on my radar prior to this, nor had I heard very much about it. In fact it was a small feature in the Sunday Times travel supplement that caught my attention and made me do a bit more research, eventually leading to a desire to visit. What is missing is the crowds one would expect in Cornwall and although the weather was superb over the bank holiday weekend nowhere was what I would consider packed. Yes Abersoch may well be the exception to that rule and is firmly set on the Cheshire radar but even here what’s on offer is nothing special, and is in fact the one place I would avoid as it’s a bit trashy if I am to be totally honest, as well as being probably the least interesting destination that this area of coast has to offer.
Sweeping views through rusted bracken and purple heaters across fields of verdant green to oceans blue and green to the tip of the peninsula and on to Bardsey Island.
The village of Rhiw and location of the B&B we stayed at, details at bottom of post.
Views from the hills, shepherds cottage to left of picture and out to the curve of Porth Neigwl, or more commonly known as Hells Mouth Beach to the right of the picture.
Wondrous rolling hills and fileds divided by dry-stone walls
You can pretty much drive around small and winding country roads without too much traffic delay or stress. Dotted with charming villages, old churches, fabulous beaches and breath-taking coastal walks, all in all this place has it all. What it doesn’t have in most parts is Wi-Fi nor people constantly stuck to their mobile devices, tablets and iPlayer. Another reason it may not be more popularly on the radar is, it doesn’t have any big name celebrity restaurants to draw the crowds as in Devon and Cornwall, nor does it seem to have any big name celebrity second homers, or if it does, they are staying remarkably quite about it. As I said in the intro I initially thought North Wales Llyn peninsula is missing a trick, but in hindsight it’s not, its perfect just as it is, as in its a place that has humans doing simple stuff like walking, talking, swimming, laughing and generally enjoying a carefree atmosphere. One local person I spoke to said it reminded them of a simpler life 30 years back. As a result it’s a great place to spend some time relaxing and escaping the pressures of city life and entrapment’s. Here you can build sandcastles without the worry of your email, or Pokémon.
Echoes of the past, the remains of an old farmhouse, you will find many of these dotted around the landscape and far from being a sign of decay they are usually the result of prosperity. Similar to what happened in many parts of rural Ireland, as farmers became more prosperous so they abandoned the old and in their place built new bungalows, sadly often with poor aesthetic, whilst original stone built dwelling were left to crumble.
Aberdaron, I spotted this Heron using the chimney on the old cafe as a vantage point to survey the river below for fish.
Y Gegin Fawr Cafe, originally a communal kitchen where 13th century pilgrims could claim a meal on their way to Bardsey Island.
Church Bell, Aberdaron
The path down to Porthdinllaen beach
Whats also missing along this fine stretch of coast is any sense of pretension, or snobbery, here they use ubiquitous and sensible land rover defenders to tow their boats to the beach, or maybe even the odd red tractor! This looks to me to be a revamped Massey Ferguson .
Glorious views across Porthdinllaen beach.
Taking this picture reminded me of the words from a Nina Simone song “Feeling Good” Birds flying high, You know how I feel, Sun in the sky, You know how I feel, Breeze driftin’ on by, You know how I feel, It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life, For me, And I’m feeling good, I’m feeling good.
View to Porthdinllaen with the famous Ty Coch Inn to the center of the picture. Voted one of the top ten beach bars in the world it not hard to understand why once you have visited, the views are spectacular, the atmosphere relaxed.
When trying to find on map or satnav look for Morfa Nefyn
We head to another famous spot along this stretch of coast and the join the coastal path by Whistling Sands beach. There is a large car park here run by the National Trust, which @ £4 for the day is good value.
Wispy wands of cloud drift lazily across a clear blue sky.
There is a carpet like softness to the textures, contours and colours of the sloping cliff sides
This deserted and tiny beach is easily accessed at the far end of Whistling sands beach.
Top tip 1: There is a great little beach side cafe/restaurant to the left of the entrance hill to Whistling sands beach, also serves excellent coffee and staff are very friendly.
Having explored this section of the coast its back in the car and off to the opposite side of the peninsula, passing through, and by, the infamous Abersoch, we head instead for Plas Glyn-Y-Wedd arts center.
Spectacular, parts of the Welsh coastal path can be accessed directly from the car park at the arts center.
Top Tip 2: The cafe/restaurant at the arts center serves fantastic good quality food and drinks at very reasonable prices, making this is a great destination to head to for lunch. Whilst all the other car parks along this stretch of coast were full, and had ques, we found space here. The first half hour is free, with each subsequent hour @ £1. With proceeds going to the upkeep of the arts center this is a great place to visit. There was also a fascinating arts exhibition on when we visited.
Spectacular views framed by trees growing along the woodland path and leading to the coastal path at the arts center.
Leaving our B&B Moel Yr Wyn in Rhiw we head through more rolling hills and breathtaking scenery towards the center of Wales en-route to Lake Vyrnwy for late lunch at the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa.
Abandoned church and graveyard.
Trick of the light, sunshine before the downpour.
Light, shade and resting sheep.
Crystal clear waters, stream runs through the valley floor
Top Tip 3: The Tavern Brasserie offers mostly the same food choices on its menu as the main hotel restaurant, but at a fraction of the price and with the same stunning views, the atmosphere is also a lot less stuffy than that of the hotel.
Places of interest and info links
Wales Coastal Path, more info click this link
Whistling Sands Beach, more info click this link
More info on Aberdaron, clik this link
Ty Choc Inn, Porthdinllaen, voted 3rd in the top ten bars in the world, more info on Ty Choc click this link
Porthdinllaen, more info on this by National Trust clicking this link
Plas Glyn-Y-Weddw Arts center and grounds, more info by clicking this link
Lake Vyrnwy, more info on the lake and the surrounding areas click this link
Lake Vrnwy Hotel and Spa, more info click this link
We stayed at Moel Yr Wyn a great B&B run by husband and wife team Kevin and Chris. I can highly recommend this place.
More info and booking, click this link
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