by Menai Holidays
There is a great deal to take in on the Llyn Peninsula, and sometimes it’s hard to fit everything in. The Llyn is one of the most stunning regions in the British Isles, famous for its unspoilt natural beauty. It is therefore little wonder that the top 10 wonders of the Llyn Peninsula are naturally occurring phenomena.
These phenomena are sometimes dictated by the seasons and the weather. However, if you’re visiting at the right time, they’re worth putting in your schedule and trying to experience.
The walk from Aberdaron along the Wales Coastal Path takes you past Porth Meudwy, where the boat to Bardsey launches. It’s a pretty little cove with some great rock formations and caves to explore. It’s also a working port and so there is usually some action going on with boat launches and tractors for children to enjoy.
Continue along the path that cuts up the steep steps on the far side of the beach. It gradually climbs up the headland to the furthest end of the Llyn Peninsula and the tip of the Dragon’s Tail.
When you reach the brow of the hill, the wind picks up and get your first view of the majestic Bardsey Island across the churning and dramatic seas of the Bardsey Sound. I think it’s breath-taking and you can only imagine how the pilgrims felt upon seeing it for the first-time when paying it a visit.
The caves and the half-tide rocks should definitely be described as one of the natural wonders of the Llyn Peninsula. If you can get out on a boat off the south coast of the Llyn Peninsula, ask the captain to take you to the seas surrounding St. Tudwal’s Islands.
Both islands are privately owned and so access is restricted. However, if you sail around the islands, there is a fantastic inlet into the rock on St. Tudwal’s East (the one without the lighthouse on.) There is a wonderful “cave” where the seagulls nest that you can easily view from a boat without getting too close to the rocks.
The bird calls and their flights and landings are spectacular to see. On the return trip, you can navigate the “Half Tide Rocks” which is the perfect place to view the resident grey seal population. It’s a wonderful trip and worth chartering a boat to enjoy. There are wildlife trips that leave from both Abersoch and Pwllheli with captains that know the seas and all that they offer.
In May, along the river banks, are one of the most stunning displays of bluebells, a real sensory overload.
Park on the road in the small village of Llanystumdwy and head down the banks of the river on the path from the grave of Lloyd George. Proceed down the path for about 400 yards and the bluebells increase in abundance to the point where the whole of the forest floor is a carpet of blue.
There are some fantastic picnic spots on the route of the banks of the river and the smell from the flowers is incredible.
This is something of a personal one to our family, but when the weather is a bit grotty, we love being in the woods that back on to our house. The Winllan Woods cover the headland above Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog.
There are numerous marked trails through the woods and we go searching for fairies and leave coins for them, hammered into old tree stumps, as seems to be the tradition. One of our favourite things to search for is the tree that my husband and his two naughty friends carved their names into back in 1983 (which we advise against the children doing!) It’s still going strong and there to see for anyone who fancies looking for it.
This is something of a local secret, so don’t be telling everyone. At half-tide on the rocks below the headland at Porth Ceiriad, there is a wonderful naturally occurring swimming pool that forms for about two hours on either side of the tide.
It’s about 12 metres long by 3 metres wide and about 1 metre deep. If you make your way down the steep steps on to the beach at high tide you can wait for the tide to drop. Make your way down the rocks to the left-hand side of the beach (if you’re looking out to sea) and you will come across it.
Fish for razor clams on the beach at low tide in Llanbedrog is a special experience and great fun for little ones. At low tide, the sea on Llanbedrog beach retreats to way beyond the tip of the headland.
Head down there with some good old-fashioned table salt and “fish” for razor clams using an age-old technique of putting a dash of salt down one of the small holes that appear in the wet sand. The holes are no bigger than a 5 pence piece, so you must look carefully. They usually appear halfway between the high and low tide mark.
After putting the salt down the hole, wait about a minute you will see the long thin, jelly-like “foot” of the razor clam push itself out of the sand. Gently but firmly pull at the foot and the whole clam will come away. If you collect about 10, they are delicious in pasta and can be cooked in the same way as a bowl of mussels.
Particularly after a storm, the beach is an exciting place for those who love foraging. In the winter the rough seas in Cardigan Bay can often bring a lot of flotsam and jetsam into the beaches.
During stormy weather, you can head down to the beach off Gimblet Rock in Pwllheli and you will find scallops, still alive, that have been washed in from the scallop beds just offshore. You can tell that they are still alive as they will snap shut when you pick them up. We think they’re delicious grilled in their half shell with some butter and a slice of chorizo.
There is a walk that we enjoy without our young children as it’s steep in parts. However, the view at the end is well worth it. If you park in the car park before the steep ascent down to Nant Gwrtheyrn, you ascend the cat track that cuts up between Yr Eifl to the highest point on the Llyn Peninsula, the summit of Garn Ganol at 564m.
The 360 views show the natural wonders of the Llŷn Peninsula in all its glory. You can see the outline of the coast on all sides plus the land over towards the Snowdonia Mountain Range. After a great many years of travelling the world, there are few sights that could beat this.
The marvel that is the village of Nant Gwrtheryn always amazes me. It is unbelievable that an entire community including a church and school thrived for centuries at the base of one of the steepest valleys. Even today, the road down is steep and winding.
However, you can drive down in the car and pay a visit to the lovely restaurant and visitor centre. There is a lot to learn about this unique village and the community that lived there.
Possibly the most awe-inspiring natural wonder on the Llŷn Peninsula is the sea that surrounds the coastline. It is the most beautiful and welcoming, yet areas of it are some of the most treacherous in the world. It’s quite amazing to look into how many shipwrecks are lying beneath the waves. To dive amongst them is a real treat if you get the chance.
Stay in one of our Llyn Peninsula cottages and enjoy a holiday to this beautiful arm of North Wales.
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