As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Llŷn, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of walking, coasteering and boat trips in this glorious Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in northwest Wales.
You’re never more than four miles from the sea on the narrow Llŷn peninsula AONB, so it’s no surprise that the coast and the sea take centre stage in the range of activities available.
There are boat trips to the car-free island of Bardsey, famed for wildlife, wild flowers and its history as a place of pilgrimage; 91 miles of coastal walking, horse-riding, surfing, sailing and more or less any watery activity you can think of from coasteering to kayaking. Inland there are mountains (well, high hills) to climb up and a high ropes adventure course.
Day trips to Bardsey with Enlli Charters
If you’re lucky you might spot dolphins playing in the bow-waves of the small boat, Highlander II, as you motor over clear blue sea to Bardsey Island, otherwise known as Ynys Enlli or island of the Saints. With its wildflowers, seabirds and seals, it’s no wonder pilgrims considered this a holy place. The full day-trip, run according to demand, starts with a 70 minute morning crossing to the car-free, quiet island, where you have three hours ashore to wander, picnic, swim and bird-watch. On the return boat trip, you stop to spot puffins and other birdlife on the smaller St Tudwal’s islands in Aberdaron Bay, before returning to Pwllheli marina about 4.30pm. enllicharter.co.uk
Bardsey boat trips
The Evans family has been captaining boats from Aberdaron Bay across to Bardsey island for generations. They have farming, fishing and lighthouse-keeping connections with the island, home to choughs, seals, shearwaters and a dozen or two humans. The journey from Aberdaron takes just 20 minutes, with room for 11 passengers on the boat. You then have four hours to explore the wildlife, heritage and tea and craft shops on Bardsey before returning. Colin Evans, fluent in Welsh and English, is a mine of information on the history and wildlife of the island. He’ll teach you how to say “Beautiful” (hardd). bardseyboattrips.com
Llŷn's Surfing Beaches
Surfers come from across Britain to hang ten on the waves crashing against the shores of the Llŷn peninsula. The reef at the northern end of Hell’s Mouth, a four-mile stretch of sand also known as Porth Neigwl, is especially popular and has a surf school for beginners. After storms, experienced surfers ride barrelling wedges at Porth Ceiriad, at the tip of the peninsula. You can always seek advice on where the surf is up at the West Coast Surf shop in Abersoch. In this village there is also a sailing school that offers lessons in windsurfing and sailing, not only in small dinghies but in large keelboats too.
Cilan Riding Centre
The 300-acre Cilan Headland, three miles from Abersoch, is a site of special scientific interest – heather moorland where you can see rare, red-billed choughs. In the distance, Bardsey Island, Snowdon and the bay of Hell’s Mouth beckon. What a perfect place for a gallop. Whether you’re a nervous novice or experienced equestrian, this family-run riding centre will have the horse for you. You will be escorted by an experienced rider and there are no roads to worry about, so you can concentrate on improving your technique or just canter off into the distance, to those views and the call of choughs. abersochholidays.net
Edge of Wales Walk, Llŷn
Wales now has a footpath for some 800-mile along its coast. One of the prettiest sections must be that on the northern edge of the Llŷn peninsula. This 47-mile trail crosses moorland and fields, sandy beaches and cliff tops, with only 2% of it anywhere near a ‘main’ road. Starting from Clynnog Fawr and finishing on Bardsey Island, the route follows in the footsteps of Celtic pilgrims who fled to Bardsey, known as the ‘porch of heaven’, to escape advancing Saxons. These days, it’s more likely you’ll be hiking for pure pleasure but the 6th-century churches and holy wells established by the pilgrims add intrigue to the serene coastline. Edge of Wales Walk works to promote this way-marked footpath and the accommodation along its route, offering tailor-made itineraries including B&B accommodation, luggage transfers and local knowledge. edgeofwaleswalk.co.uk
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