Where is it? Aberdaron, on the far end of the Llyn (Lleyn) peninsula, Gwynedd, North Wales.
How long will it take ? 5 hours, Distance 9 miles / 14 km.
What's the attraction ? beautiful views ; pasture land and cliff side walks ; ancient Holy Well ; The views from Pen-y-Cil to Bardsey Island are particularly attractive.
Rating : This is a moderate walk if you stick to the official trail. But there are some steep slopes off the official trail which might tempt you to stray. Cliff edges, take care! Good walking boots recommended. The visit to St Mary's Well is at your own risk and recommended at low tide only.
Car Parking : Available in the centre of Aberdaron. Pay and display. Alternatively there is limited free parking. (: follow the sign to Porth Oer from the center of the village. After 200 yards uphill there is a lay-by overlooking the beach with free parking for a few fortunate car owners).
Facilities : Toilets and cafe / restaurant / pub in Aberdaron village, holiday cottages near by. In the summer months there is a camp site shop selling ice creams and drinks on the Uwchmynydd road, close to St Mary's Well.
Essentials : Walking boots and appropriate wet weather clothes required.
|DIRECTIONS > [ Map of Aberdaron to St Marys Well Walk location ]|
From Caernarfon take the A499 to Pwllheli and then B4413 to Aberdaron.
The walk starts from the centre of Aberdaron. A finger post in the centre of the village (close to the old bridge) points to Porth Oer. Follow the road uphill as far as Dwyros campsite (approx. ¼-mile) and turn left onto the coastal track.
Follow the lane downhill for some 200 yards; turn left at the National Trust sign for "Cwrt". The path crosses a wooden bridge and continues as a track for 3/4 mile toward the headland, with views of Aberdaron and the isles of Ynys Gwylan Fawr and Ynys Gwylan Bach.
The beautiful cove, Porth Meudwy, comes into view, this was an embarkation point for pilgrims to Bardsey Island and is now a busy lobster fishing cove. Unfortunately, at Porth Meudwy all the height we have gained is quickly lost as the path descends once again to sea level. That is the nature of the walk and the path quickly climbs again continuing on to Porth Cloch and Porth y Pistyll.
At this point the official path turns inland, crosses a couple of fields before once again returning to the coast. The unofficial path continues to skirt the cliff edge and goes direct to the headland of Pen y Cil. I could imagine this unofficial section being dangerous in wet weather as the track runs close to a steep drop. My map shows the official route plus a short detour to the Pen-y-Cil headland for the fine views of Bardsey Sound.
From Pen-y-Cil I chose to take the inland route via fields and country lanes toward the Uwchmynydd Road. In early summer there are spectacular displays of wild flowers alongside the hedgerows. Cattle and sheep populate the fields in their own little corner of paradise as we pass Mynydd Bychestyn and Porth Felen on our way to St Marys Well.
On reaching the road bear left and walk through the path of gold (the path is flanked by gorse bushes) to rejoin the open aspect of the coastal landscape. I chose to climb the hill of Mynydd Gwyddel (Irishman’s Mountain) for the views of Porth Felen and Bardsey Island.
The "Gate of Paradise", the holy Isle of Bardsey, was a place of pilgrimage for a thousand years and described as being half way between this world and the next.
Take the trail down the north flank of Mynydd Gwyddel to the small valley defined by Mynydd Gwyddel and Mynydd Mawr. Then bear left down hill keeping to the right of stream. The remains of St Mary's Church will be found on your right after some 1/4 mile.
From here, it is possible to visit St Mary's Well, but take care, and it is at your own risk...obviously! The Well is reputed to have been blessed by the Virgin Mary herself and was the last chance for the pilgrims to receive a blessing before the crossing to the Holy Isle of Bardsey.Follow the stream to the cliff top and continue down the steep steps to the shoreline rocks. The Well is approximately 30 yards to the right, but a visit is only recommended at low tide.
To continue the walk leave the remains of the church and head north west toward the base of the mountain slope. (the map shows another option which is to first return to the top of the valley ). Follow the narrow path with a steep slope to the sea on the left and in ½ mile bear right uphill to the summit of Mynydd Mawr. From the summit, follow the road down hill and return to the “path of gold”, bear left and follow the road in a north easterly direction back to Aberdaron.