Lleyn Peninsula Coast Path
Pushing out into the sea from the coastline of north Wales, like a finger pointing towards Ireland, is the picturesque Lleyn Peninsula. Following this stunning coastline the 95 mile coastal path leads around the peninsula from Caernarfon to Portmadoc, crossing a variety of landscapes from mudflats to rocky cliffs reaching over 1100 feet at one point; to open heath land and secluded coves and sandy beaches, with the coast always nearby. The Lleyn coastline provides some magnificent walking as most of the coast has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Heritage Coast. The National Trust protects twelve miles of coastline along the route and there are several sites of Special Scientific Interest. The geology is also fascinating, with some of the oldest rock in the British Isles plus some of the youngest, partly a result of the geological contortions that created the mountains of Snowdonia. There are also some charming untouched working villages to visit, which provide a contrast to the seaside resorts.
Rights of Way issues necessitate that the coastal path diverts inland at several points, although only by a mile or so, with the sea still mostly visible. These diversions usually involve some uphill walking, up to over 1300 feet at one point, but only serve to enhance the variety of the walk. The Lleyn Peninsula has a strong Christian heritage as a pilgrim route, and during your outward walk along the north coast you will be following in the steps of thousands of pilgrims who for centuries made their way to Aberdaron, and then by boat to the Holy island of Bardsey, just off the tip of the peninsula. This explains the many small churches, such as at Pistyll and Llangwnnadl that you will pass during the journey.
Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli) where legend say twenty thousand saints are buried is also an important national nature reserve. It is a stopping point on the migration route of western seabirds travelling between Iceland and Africa and birds are ringed and counted here. In springtime around eight thousand Manx shearwater nest in the rabbit burrows on the island, providing a magnet for bird watchers. Many other rare birds can be seen along the cliffs including, if you are lucky, the chough which favours the peninsula's rocky coastline. The sea which pounds the cliffs is also a Special Area of Conservation where dolphin, porpoise and grey seal can be sighted. Near Aberdaron and at several other points of your journey you will see razorbill, guillemot, cormorant and, of course, many different kinds of seagull. Spring and early summer is also the time when the cliffs are at their most spectacular, being covered with a blanket of wildflowers, whilst gorse and heather on the hills create a blaze of colour.
Your itinerary will depend upon how much time you wish to spend exploring along the way. The 95 mile route could be walked in seven days (giving a daily average distance of 13.5 miles), but the problem with this is finding accommodation at stage points based upon these distance intervals, as the area is sparsely populated. If you are camping or backpacking this is not such a problem as there are numerous camping locations.
We would suggest a slightly more leisurely journey taking ten days, using an itinerary which provides a bed at the end of each day. However, even this requires some days with shorter walks and others with longer walks to fit the route between locations with accommodation. The daily stages we would suggest are as follows:
1. Caernarfon to Penygroes - 5.5 miles
2. Penygroes to Clynnog Fawr - 6 miles
3. Clynnog Fawr to Morfa Nefa - 14 miles
4. Morfa Nefyn to Llangwnnadl - 12 miles
5. Llangwnnadl to Aberdaron - 10 miles
6. Aberdaron to Rhiw - 8 miles
7. Rhiw to Abersoch - 14 miles
8. Abersoch to Pwllheli - 8miles
9. Pwllheli to Criccieth - 8 miles
10. Criccieth to Portmadoc - 6 miles
As accommodation is limited at many places it is essential to pre-book before setting out. You can obtain accommodation information from TIC's or you can obtain an accommodation listing from us which includes all the above locations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
At Portmadoc the route connects with the Meirionnydd Coast Walk.
As with all coastal walks, you are often very exposed to high winds and rain. Sea mists can not only drench you but can also provide a navigation hazard when walking near cliff edges. The extent to which these factors affect you will depend upon the time of year that you walk, but good shell clothing and walking boots are essential at all times of year - be prepared.
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