Aberdaron to Mynydd Mawr

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  • Location: Aberdaron to Mynydd Mawr.
  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Description of this walk: A cliff top pilgrim walk around the Llyn Peninsula.
  • BBC Disclaimer: The Weatherman Walking maps are intended as a guide to the TV programme only. Routes and conditions may have changed since the programme was made. The BBC takes no responsibility for any accident or injury that may occur while following the route. Always wear appropriate clothing and footwear and check weather conditions before heading out.
  • Download the map of this walk: Print off and follow in Derek's footsteps (PDF 790KB)

This walk begins and ends in the ancient village of Aberdaron and is about as far west as you can get on the Welsh mainland.

Derek's guide along this mystical part of the coastline is the Reverend Canon Andrew Jones, who's an expert on the history of pilgrimages.

Their walk takes them above a disused harbour where the workers had to be lowered by rope, through a site of special scientific interest, to a lookout point on the top of Mynydd Mawr and a magical view of the holy island of Bardsey.


In the middle ages there were two main pilgrim routes - along the north and south coasts of the Llyn peninsula and they both met at Aberdaron.

It was here that pilgrims waited and prepared themselves for the short, but dangerous crossing to Ynys Enlli, the holy island of Bardsey.

The village was full of inns and restaurants catering to throngs of people, and at least one of them, Y Gegin Fawr - The Big Kitchen - dating from the 14th century still serves food.

St. Hywyn's church

The church of St. Hywyn's, is in a striking location at the edge of the beach, and well worth a visit.

It was founded as long ago as the 6th century by Hywyn - a colleague of Cadfan, who started the Christian settlement on Bardsey.

Inside the church you'll find a very important object dating from this period of history - the gravestone of a priest called Senacus which refers to the fact that he was buried with 'the multitude of the brethren'.

Some historians believe this could be a reference to the tradition that 20,000 saints are buried on Bardsey.

More recently the poet RS Thomas was the parish priest here, and there's a beautiful and mystical poem of his called 'The Other', inscribed in slate inside the church.

It's just the sort of inspiration you need before setting off in the footsteps of pilgrims.


After crossing the beach and climbing up onto the headland, the path passes through land now owned by the National Trust.

This area is called Cwrt, and it gets its name from the medieval court and exchequer that once stood on this estate and managed and financed the abbey on Bardsey.

Porth Meudwy

The path winds down the cliffside into Porth Meudwy - a pretty little cove, which is still an important base for local fishermen.

This is also a harbour that supplies the community over on Bardsey and from where today's visitors embark. From there it's a climb back up to the headland.

The Llyn coastal path is pretty well set up, with steps and handrails at some points along the route but there are plenty of rough and narrow cliff top sections so you've got to keep your wits about you.

Porth y Pistyll

Over the years there's been a lot of quarrying in this part of the Llyn peninsula - including quartz, limestone, jasper and granite.

The path passes above a little harbour that was built at the beginning of the 20th century to ship out some of this stone.

Porth y Pistyll - or the Trwyn Dwmi Works as it was known locally was a difficult and dangerous place to reach and workers had to use ropes and ladders to get down to the harbour.

Pen y Cil

The landscape seems to get just that little bit more rugged as the path approaches the extreme end of the Llyn Peninsula.

Pen y Cil is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the chough colony found here.

And as you round the headland at Pen y Cil, there's a lovely and unexpected surprise - Bardsey Island.

Bardsey - or Ynys Enlli, as it's known in Welsh, means, 'Island in the flood or tides' has been hidden from view until this point.

On a good day it feels as though it's just a stone's throw away but those two miles of water separating it from the mainland are among the most dangerous in the world with churning tides and currents.

Even today, one in three crossings are cancelled because of adverse wind and weather conditions.

Ffynon Fair

Trwyn Maen Melyn is one of the closest points on the mainland to Ynys Enlli and in the middle ages some pilgrims would have embarked from here.

There's a fresh water fountain in the cove, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and above it on the headland are the remains of a church where pilgrims offered prayers for safety before setting out for the holy island.

It was said that three pilgrimages to Bardsey were worth one to Rome.

Mynydd Mawr

From here the path climbs up to the top of Mynydd Mawr. During the 2nd World War there was an important lookout station here, staffed by hundreds of military personnel.

At the time there were major concerns that German ships and planes would use the lights of neutral Ireland to guide them in for an attack on the Welsh coast.

Mynydd Mawr offers stunning views in all directions - west to the Irish coast, east to Snowdonia, north to Anglesey and south to Ynys Enlli.

The return walk along the lanes is a lot more direct than the coastal path so you'll be back there in no time.

Julian Carey - Producer on Weatherman Walking


Aberdaron photos

Aberdaron photos

Take a look at the photo gallery which accompanies this walk.

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