222 Criccieth to Pwllheli

Yesterday, the town of Criccieth shone with golden sunshine. Today the morning light is subdued and the air feels heavy, as though the place has been wrapped in layers of cotton gauze.

I was hoping to get a better photograph of the castle that dominates the sea front, but the light remains obstinately dull.

Criccieth and its castle, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

At the end of the esplanade, some young men appear to be making a film. One holds a microphone, another a camera, while a third walks endlessly up and down the sand with a book in his hand. I wonder what the film is about? A reader? A writer? A poet?

02 film making on Criccieth beach, Ruth Livingstone

I’d like to ask, but don’t want to disturb the filming.

At the end of the esplanade I follow the Wales Coast Path, now also called the Llyn Coastal Path, as it winds along the shore. In the distance, out on the sands, I can see large machines at work. Diggers.

03 Lyn Coastal Path, Ruth hiking in Wales

I’m still hoping for a decent shot of the castle. But, when I turn around, I see someone has lit a bonfire, adding a haze of smoke to the already murky atmosphere.

04 bonfire, Criccieth, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast in Wales

I meet a few strollers along the path. This elderly couple stop for frequent rest-stops bird-watching pauses.

05 birdwatching, Ruth's coastal walk, Llyn Peninsula

And somebody has erected a piece of sculpture made out of driftwood; using ropes and a feather, and incorporating a pair of odd shoes. (Yet another example of abandoned shoes turning up all over the place!)

more odd shoes, Ruth on the beach near Criccieth

I pass the section of shore where the diggers are at work. They seem to be dredging a river channel through the shingle. This is the mouth of the Afon Dwyfor, according to my map.

07 dredging the river, Llyn Peninsula, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

A man strides past me in a purposeful way and doesn’t acknowledge my greeting. I wonder who he is and where he’s going in such a hurry. Maybe one of the workmen has been sent to fetch something urgently. Coffee?

I look behind me. The smoky haze over Criccieth has grown even worse, obscuring the castle and the town.

08 smoggy Criccieth, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

The path’s progress along the shore is interrupted by the river, and begins to follow the bank as it runs roughly parallel with the sea. Now it’s boggy underfoot, my boots squelch through deep mud, and I wonder if dredging the river’s mouth is intended to rectify the situation.

Further along and a wooden walkway is helpfully provided, but has been damaged by the tide. Seaweed and debris are flung up against it, and several sections of planking are torn away.

09 path winds through marsh, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path, Lleyn Peninsula

The path leaves the river and heads inland across fields.

I love this time of year. Little lambs everywhere. This mother seems to have collected a nursery around her. They can’t all be hers.

10 lambs wearing plastic bags, Ruth hiking in Wales

plastic bag, Ruth LivingstoneAnd I see one of the lambs appears to have tangled itself up in a plastic bag. I debate climbing over the fence to free it, but don’t want to create panic among the flock.

Then I notice several other lambs are also wearing plastic bags. It must be deliberate.

Rain coats for baby lambs? How odd. I’ve never seen that before – but it seems like a good idea.

My path crosses the railway line, and turns into a track which leads through an estate, but I notice the old trees are dying. What a shame.


11 railway crossing near Llanystumdwy, Ruth walking the coast

I join the A497 and this is one of those unfortunate sections where the Wales Coast Path follows the road. There is a proper pavement, and traffic is light, but it’s frustrating to be walking without view of the sea. And boring.

The only interesting thing I come across is a sign pointing to Bear Grylls’ Survival Academy. The poster features Mr Grylls’ mud-streaked face.

12 Bear Grylls poster, Ruth walking in Wales

The road goes on. And on. Less than 3 miles in total, but it feels like more.

13 miles of road walking, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

Finally I reach a roundabout and the Wales Coast Path is signed off to the left. Down a quiet lane, under a railway bridge, along a track, and then… finally… I’m back on the coast.

14 back on the coast, Ruth hiking in Wales

I stop for a breather and a quick snack, and to enjoy the scenery. Behind me the little train rumbles past and over the bridge.

15 train crossing, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

Onwards, heading westwards, I pass in front of a holiday camp. I’m sure people enjoy staying in these places, but they do spoil the landscape. It’s not particularly scenic here anyway, with huge rocks piled up along the top of the beach to prevent erosion.

16 walking through holiday park, Penychan, Ruth Livingstone

Beyond the holiday park and things suddenly improve.

The sky has cleared and, although the air is still hazy, the sun is shining. I’m climbing over a headland called Pen-ychain, above a bright blue sea and surrounded by fragrant gorse bushes, which are turning gold with flowers. I catch the first whiffs of their honey and coconut scent. I do love that smell!

17 looking back at Penychain, Ruth Livingstone on the Lleyn coast

Up here I find the remains of old gun emplacements, from WW2, with concrete footprints and rusty metal plates. And up by the trig point someone has constructed a bonfire. Or is it a wigwam?

18 wigwam, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

I keep looking for Snowdon. It was so clear yesterday, with snow outlining its shape against the sky. But today everything is lost in a fuggy haze.

 self-portrait, Ruth Livingstone footsteps on sand, Ruth Livingstone I pose for a self-portrait.

And then it’s time to head down and onto a long stretch of beach. It’s the last part of my walk, and will take me up to Pwllheli.

This end of the beach is deserted. I make the first footprints in the sand. Then double back on myself to take a photograph of my tracks.

The beach is 3 miles long, and all this glorious sand more than makes up for the road trudging I did earlier. I’m walking into the sinking sun, now bright in my eyes.


20 beach towards Pwllheli, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

That’s the trouble with walking westwards – the sun is blinding and photography difficult. I feel suddenly tired and head towards the top of the beach to sit and rest on the rocks.

During my brief rest, I notice the many attempts made to control coastal erosion. These include a metal wall, piled rocks and wooden groynes.

21 sea defences, Ruth walking the beach, Pwllheli

The measures have obviously been successful as the problem is no longer erosion but too much sand!

Further along and I look back at the beach and the dunes. And I see Snowdon! There it is, just visible through the haze.

22 Snowdon, from Pwllheli beach, Ruth Livingstone

I walk right to the end of the beach and up along a low ridge of land, until I reach the entrance to Pwllheli harbour. Big machinery is at work here too. Diggers and huge dumper trucks. Are they dredging the harbour channel? Or just removing sand dunes?

23 sand moving, mouth of Pwllheli harbour, Ruth walking the coast path, Wales

The sun is low and I turn inland, walking along the inner edge of the spit of land, overlooking the marina. The footpath weaves in and out, through and around boatyards.

24 Pwllheli marina, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path
On my way around the harbour I pass a fine, modern building. Later I learn this is Plas Heli, a new Welsh sailing academy.

25 new building, Pwllheli Marina, Ruth's coastal walk

I’m very tired by the time I reach Pwllheli town centre, where my car is parked, and I’m delighted to see a Wetherspoon’s pub. Time for an early dinner.  It’s only 5pm but Wetherspoon’s doesn’t mind what time you eat. I order a steak.

Back at home, I discover that Turner, the great English painter, made several sketches and paintings of Criccieth Castle. There is a great example in the Tate.


Miles walked today = 13 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 699 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,306 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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24 Responses to 222 Criccieth to Pwllheli

  1. Jane Morgan says:

    Now you are on familiar territory. We spent many happy holidays in Pwllheli, staying on the seafront and spending hours on the beach at Abererch. And the very first leg of our coastwalk was along Pwllheli prom!

  2. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, just back from my penultimate trip to Wales for the WCP! I noticed the Bear Grylls advert when I walked there a few months ago. They are offering half-day (3hrs) Survival courses for people as young as 8 for the tidy sum of £55. Quite how / why kids of 8 need to survive on the Lleyn I don’t know.
    About 3 years ago I intervened with regard to a sheep in ditress; It was when I was climbing all the major hills on the Shetlands (yes they have hills) and I came across a full grown sheep who was stuck in a very deep sheep dip. I am pretty sure sheep don’t have reverse and the sheep dip was very narrow so it could not turn. Anyway, I went in and grabbed its fleece and pulled it out backwards. A good job no one from the local constabulary witnessed this, otherwise it might have difficult to explain!!

    • You’ve nearly finished the Wales Coast Path?! Well done. Where next?
      Yes, seeing a giant Bear Grylls staring at you is something you tend to notice 😳 He recently has an ITV children’s series where he takes a group of young teenagers and teaches them survival skills before throwing them out of a helicopter and onto a Welsh mountain.
      Sheep are extremely stupid creatures. Sadly, I came across several dead ewes and lambs on my recent walks.

      • owdjockey says:

        Hope to get the last section done in the next few days. Then I must ‘fill the gap’ from Minehead to Chepstow. I will then have a continuous section completed from Poole to Chester. Then up the west coast!

        • Hmm, Minehead to Chepstow was not the greatest stretch of walking. Still, it must be done. And there are some lovely areas in Somerset: Watchet and Brean Down were very attractive. And crossing the bridge over the Severn was great fun.

  3. owdjockey says:

    Really irritating that WordPress does not let guest comments be edited by the guest. I suppose I need to proof read all my responses from now on.

  4. David Chapman says:

    Enjoying reading the account of your adventures round the coast. Great photos. There’s a coastal runner coming up fast behind you – Elise Downing. You should keep an eye out for her.

  5. paul sennett says:

    Ruth it looks like a gorgeous walk…. we are still debating whether to do Wales or just England…

  6. Helen says:

    Your accounts of the Wales Coastal Path around our wonderful Pen LLyn are amazing, thank you for such great photos and descriptions!
    Helen, We Love Llyn

  7. A sheep stuck in plastic would not have been all that surprising, they’re hardly the smartest of animals. I rescued one last year in Cumbria that had got her head trapped in a fence.

  8. theresagreen says:

    Another great post, highlighting the beautiful and not-so-lovely aspects that constitute the ‘real Wales’. I agree the scent of gorse is heavenly, especially just after a rain shower. I think the random structure on the beach is designed to trap sand to encourage the growth of the dunes to help combat coastal erosion. Bear Grylls has an impressive home in the area, I think at Abersoch. I believe sheep appear to be ‘twp’, or dull witted due to our over-domestiction and inter-breeding and their reliance on us! Wilder ones that live out on the mountains most of the year are more canny.

    • We constantly battle against the sea. I’m amazed at how much effort goes into shifting sand around! Yes, I’ve discovered Bear Grylls lives on an island just off the coast. It did look lovely..

  9. Linda wilson says:

    Thank you so much for your tour ,I love this part of wales so much,we have a caravan at edern,it’s so beautiful and quite ,hope to see more of your walks on the Lynn peninsula, kind regards linda

  10. Marie Keates says:

    When I was mapping this I had trouble finding the path. You did well not to get lost. I wonder what the sheep in plastic bags was all about?

  11. Charlotte says:

    Such a helpful and well written blog, which helped us out when we were stuck on that tedious stretch of road!

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