If you want to take a walking holiday and really go lightweight, why not get someone else to carry your heavy bags for you? The Edge of Wales Walk offers just that along the spectacular Llyn coast…
Many people choose to start the walk at Caernarfon, famous for its magnificent 13th century castle. The route then heads west to the coast overlooking the Y Foryd nature reserve before heading inland. It nears the coast again at the village of Clynnog Fawr with its impressive church where pilgrims would gather on their way to Bardsey Island. Clynnog is a good place to spend the night at the Beuno Inn.
Walkers then have the choice of following the coastline, or up over the exposed moorland on Bwlch Mawr with its views into Snowdonia. The next point of interest is the rocky coast near the village of Trefor where dolphins can be spotted before ascending the distinctive triple peaked Yr Eifl Hills. The well preserved Iron Age fort Tre’r Ceiri is a worthwhile diversion at this point. The path then descends again to the Welsh Language and Heritage Centre at Nant Gwrtheyrn, a good place to stop for a cup of tea at the cafe. Across the shingle beach from Nant, and over the headland the path comes to the tiny pilgrim’s church at Pistyll. This is kept as it would have been in mediaeval times with fragrant rushes and herbs on the floor and original features such as the “Leper’s Window”. The next stop is the seaside town of Nefyn which has a variety of accommodation and places to eat.
The neighbouring village of Morfa Nefyn is home to a world class golf course and the picturesque “village on the sand” Porth Dinllaen. The next section is a long stretch of dramatic rocky cliffs interspersed with sandy coves. A good place to stop for lunch is the Lion Hotel, a few minutes’ walk from the coast in the village of Tudweiliog. Walkers will often have the long, wide sandy beach Traeth Penllech to themselves.
Porth Oer, famous for its Whistling Sands (it’s name in English) is somewhat busier and has a friendly cafe. The path then begins to climb again onto the low hills that form the headland at the tip of the peninsula, offering a fantastic elevated view of Bardsey Island, the destination for thousands of mediaeval pilgrims. Trips across to Bardsey are frequent during the summer. Turning east from the headland along the south coast of the peninsula, the fishing village of Aberdaron is a perfect place to spend the night with friendly hotels and restaurants.
Continuing east from Aberdaron the path climbs over Mynydd Rhiw, offering superb views across the vast sandy beach Hells Mouth which comprises the next part of the walk. At the far end of Hell’s Mouth we come to the rocky headland Cilan and then north to the bustling harbour town of Abersoch, famous for its annual music and wakeboarding festival, Wakestock. Abersoch has a wide variety of accommodation and places to eat.
East of Abersoch lies the quiet village of Llanbedrog, home to the Iron man sculpture dramatically places on the headland, and the Plas Glyn y Weddw art gallery. A quick walk across a sandy beach section brings walkers to the Pwllheli, the largest town on the western peninsula with plenty of accommodation.
A walk across a sandy beach takes walkers out of Pwllheli before the route heads inland to cross the river Dwyfor. An interesting stop on this section is the village of Llanystumdwy, the home town of former prime minister Lloyd George. The house where he grew up is maintained in its original condition as a museum. At the end of his life he was buried in the nearby woodlands where there is a memorial to him.
Just a little further along the coast we come to the pretty town of Criccieth, and another 12th century castle. Criccieth’s castle is less well preserved than other castles at Caernarfon and Conwy for example, because of its rather more interesting history. The castle was captured and set on fire by Owain Glyndwr in 1404, leaving only the outer shell, but its picturesque location makes it well worth a visit.
Continuing east from Criccieth we come to yet another magnificent sandy beach, Black Rock Sands. Leaving the beach the path skirts Porthmadog Golf Course before passing through the Pen y Banc nature reserve into Borth y Gest and then finally into Porthmadog itself, home to the Welsh Highland and Ffestiniog steam railways.
Visit the website at http://www.edgeofwaleswalk.co.uk/ for more details and to book