221am Penrhyndeudraeth to Portmeirion

I park my car in Criccieth and catch the train to Penrhyndeudraeth, a name I still can’t pronounce, despite my B&B hostess’ best efforts to teach me.

Sadly there isn’t a path running along the bank of the estuary and so I’m forced to follow the road – the A497 heading westwards – where I soon come across yet another little station at Minffordd.

01 Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path to Porthmadog

The platform has a quaint, abandoned look and it takes me a little while to realise it’s not a network station, but part of the Ffestiniog Railway, which is apparently the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway line.

Looking over the tracks, I can see the conventional station in the valley below.

02 Minffordd network rail station, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Lleyn Peninsula

The road between Penrhyndeudraeth and Minffordd is lined by an odd mix of residential houses, old chapels and business properties, all interlaced with fields full of tiny spring lambs. This couple stayed still long enough for a photograph.

03 baby lambs, Ruth hiking in Wales

I’m pleased to leave the main road and follow the Wales Coast Path, first down a side street, and then onto a footpath through fields. At least I now can enjoy a good view across the Afon Dwyryd estuary, and trace the route I walked yesterday.

04 meanedering path over Afon Dwyryd, Ruth on the Wales Coast Way

The path seems to double back on itself and joins a track…

05 farm tracks, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path
… that leads past residential homes, and then up along a bridleway with an ancient surface made of flagstones, before joining another track across farmland. I reach the top of a rise and begin to walk downhill, past ponds and underneath twisted trees…

06 to Portmeirion, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

… arriving at the top of a large field where the footpath appears to vanish. But down below, and ahead, I see a giant car park, and I know I must be on the outskirts of Portmeirion.

07 car park, Portmeirion, Ruth hiking in Wales

Through the car park and I see a sign. Yes. Portmeirion. I’ve been looking forward to this.

08 Ruth at entrance to Portmeirion

The adult entrance fee is £20, but if you are really old – like me – you can get in for a tenner.

I knew nothing much about Portmeirion, apart from the fact it was the location used for the TV series, The Prisoner, a surreal and mystifying programme from the 1960s which I never watched.

view down to Portmeirion, Ruth's coastal walkMistakenly, I thought that Portmeirion was a model resort, possibly created by the Victorians. So I’m surprised to read the brochure and learn that it’s a comparatively new creation and was built by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis who started the project in 1925 and worked on it, off and on, for the next 50 years. The final buildings were added in the 1970s.

10 beach Spa, Portmeirion, Ruth Livingstone

You can visit the resort as a day tripper like me, or stay in the hotel or one of the self-catering cottages. It’s a fantastic situation, overlooking the mouth of the estuary and the tidal island of Ynys Gifftan.

09 view over Ynys Gifftan, Ruth in Portmeirion

The buildings seem to be inspired by Italian architecture, with some classical facades thrown in. I expected to find it all rather twee, but actually I found it to be delightful: cheerful, colourful, attractive and ever-so-slightly bonkers.

10 Portmeirion, Ruth Livingstone in Wales, hiking

I imagine the gardens are even lovelier in summer, when the trees and shrubs are in bloom. But I enjoy wandering around the extensive grounds, most of it left as natural woodland. There are giant ferns…

12 giant ferns, Ruth Livingstone, Portmeirion

… and high on the hill above the village is a strange graveyard. Yes, that really is a giant wooden statue of a dog among the headstones.

dog graveyard, Ruth Livingstone in Portmeirion

A dogs’ graveyard? Again I expect to be repelled by its sentimentality. In fact, I find it peaceful and very moving.

14 doggy graves, Portmeirion, Ruth's coastal walk

Further along, I come across trees with massive twisted branches. Spooky.

15 spooky woods, Ruth hiking in Portmeirion, Wales

And, high above the sea, I find a clearing with a bench, and great views to the west towards Porthmadog.

16 view point, Portmeirion, Ruth in Wales, Lleyn Peninsula

From here a path leads down to a beach below, but a couple coming up warn me that the path is steep and eroded, and there is no other route off the beach. So I decide not to climb down, but sit on the bench and have a snack – and take a self-portrait.

17 Ruth Livingstone, lunch break, Portmeirion, Wales

I could stay here for hours. But I haven’t come very far at all, and I must reach Criccieth before sunset.

[to be continued…]

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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16 Responses to 221am Penrhyndeudraeth to Portmeirion

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, yes this takes me back. Have only been to Portmeirion once but I found it fascinating. As a teenager I was avid fan of Danger Man, a TV series starring Patrick Macgoohan, which sort of morphed into the Prisoner. It was years ahead of its time and like you say, very surreal.
    You seem to be making the best of the current settled weather.
    Off to the South Wales tomorrow for a little 23 miler. As Number 6 would have said “Be seeing you”

    • Hope you had a good day walking today, Alan. I’m home now, and have just ordered a box set of The Prisoner (second hand off Amazon), as I think I need to find out what all the fuss is about.

  2. owdjockey says:

    Hit Ruth (reprise) try the link below to help with your pronunciation. I am no Welsh speaker, but I try and do my best to get it reasonably close. I usually try and break the words down into shorter parts so…..Penrhyndeudraeth I would pronounce PEN-RIN-DIE-DRY-ETH.


  3. jcombe says:

    Oh I always have trouble with Welsh place names, especially when trying to catch a bus. I usually end up making such a mess trying to say my destinaton the bus driver replies with somewhere that sounds nothing like my attempts and asks me if that is where I want to go to which I usually reply “I expect so”.

    It is very much worth taking a ride on the Ffestiniog railway if you can spare the time I took a “day off” on one of my coastal walking trips last year and did a circuit from Carnaerfon on the Snowdown Mountain Railway down to Porthmadog, then the Ffestiniog Railway to Blanaeu Ffestioniog, the Conway Valley Line (part of the ordinary national network) to Llandudno Junction, another train to Bangor and finally a bus back to Carnerarfon. A very enjoyable day and there is a combined ticket for both the steam railways which makes it a bit cheaper.

  4. Tony Hunt says:

    Portmeirion, yes, wonderful. Possibly the only place the adult ‘me’ has found ‘enchanting’. Good to see it so well preserved in original form.

  5. Marie Keates says:

    I think I watched a few episodes of the Prisoner when I was young. Weren’t there giant balls? The place looks very familiar and, as you say, slightly bonkers. I’m sure I’d have never got any further.

  6. theresagreen says:

    II love to see Portmeirion from other peoples’ eyes. It is indeed enchanting, and as you say, slightly bonkers! The place cast its spell on me when I was 11 years old whilst on holiday with my dad. Now I live about 40 miles away and go back often, although nothing really changes there are always new things to discover.

I welcome your views

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