225 Hell’s Mouth to Aberdaron

The third rule of my coastal walk is this: I must start each walk at the point where I stopped the coastal section of my previous walk. This means I have to get back to the car park at Hell’s Mouth.

There is no direct bus to Hell’s Mouth, and the bus that goes to nearby Llanengan has been diverted. But I’ve done my research and discovered there are two buses a day that will take me from Aberdaron to a place called Saithbont. Saithbont isn’t even a village. It’s just a corner of the road, but I can walk the 2 miles from there to Hell’s Mouth. Not ideal. But the best I can do.

I drive to Aberdaron, park my car, and find the bus stop easily. I’m early.

01 heron in Aberdaron, Ruth Livingstone in WalesWhile I wait, a fine-looking heron flaps down onto the road, and keeps me company. It seems like a good omen.

Of course, I should have realised that nothing about the bus service on the Llyn Peninsula is straight forward.

Suddenly I catch sight of a bus going past the end of the street. What? It must be the bus I need. I grab my rucksack and run but, by the time I get to the corner, the bus has disappeared down the coast road.

I’m furious and return to the bus stop to examine the timetable. There is another bus stopping here soon, but this one goes nowhere near the coast.

Or maybe it does? I pull out my map. Yes, it goes through a village called Botwnnog. That’s a mile away from Saithbont.

02 Llandegwring church, Ruth walking the Llyn Peninsula, Wales

When the bus arrives I ask the bus driver if he will drop me off a Botwnnog. He promises to stop at the right place.

And so, eventually, I find myself walking down a narrow road that links Botwnnog with Saithbont. On the way I pass a quaint little church at a place called Llandegwning. It’s so small it looks like a toy church.

The road ends and I follow a farm track. This isn’t an official right of way, but nobody tries to stop me. Unfortunately the track is very muddy, and I’m pleased when it comes to an end.

I meet the coast path, which is doing one of its inland detours. It’s muddy too. Very muddy.

03 mud on the Wales Coast Path

But at least I’m heading towards Hell’s Mouth although, irritatingly, I know I will have to turn around and retrace my steps as soon as I get there.

The car park comes into sight.

04 car park at Hell's Mouth, Ruth walking Porth Neigwl

There’s a refreshment van parked nearby and I stop for a cup of tea and a chat. The refreshment man thinks I might be able to walk along the beach, if the tide is low enough. That would be better than retracing my route along the muddy fields.

Hell’s Mouth beach looks totally different on a calm day in the sunshine. Beautiful.

05 Hell's Mouth in sunshine, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

But I can see the beach ahead is already cut off by the waves. And the tide is still coming in. I walk along the top of the low cliff for a while…

06 walking on crumbling cliffs, Ruth hiking in Wales

… but landslides have carried the path away and I am forced to turn back and return to the car park.

By this time I’ve walked over 4 miles and got, precisely, nowhere. It’s a good job the sun is shining. It’s hard to feel aggrieved on a sunny day.

I head inland along the Wales Coast Path, retracing my steps. Past sheep fields…

07 fields of sheep, Ruth Livingstone in Wales

… and then I decide to follow a bridleway that runs, roughly, parallel with the official path. This leads me through a farm-yard. Luckily the cattle are still penned up for the winter.

08 locked-away cows, Ruth on Llyn Peninsula

But the bridleway is disused and the local farmers have clearly decided they don’t have to maintain a right-of-way. So I’m forced to climb over locked gates. And then it takes me some time to find the coast path again.

I’m thinking uncharitable thoughts about farmers when I come across a dead lamb. The carcass of its mother lies nearby. I remember the weather yesterday and wonder if the poor things died from hypothermia.

09 dead lamb, Ruth in Wales

The inland diversion is only a couple of miles, but takes a long time to navigate. The main problem is mud! I meet a couple of walkers coming towards me, but they seem in a grumpy mood – maybe it’s the mud – and barely acknowledge my greeting.

10 muddy fields, Ruth hiking the Lleyn Peninsula, Wales Coast Path

I’m relieved to reach a road. Now the walking is easy for a couple of miles.

11 road walking along the Wales Coast Path

Just before a place called Rhiw, the path turns off the road and follows a track. I’m above the end of Hell’s Mouth beach and here I sit down on the grass for a drink and a snack, and realise I’m only 3 miles away from the car park – if only I’d been able to walk along the sands!

12 view over Porth Neigwl, Rhiw, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

There is a footpath down to the beach at this point, according to my map. But the path seems to have disappeared in another landslip. Perhaps it’s a good job I couldn’t walk along the beach after all, because I might not have been able to climb up the crumbled cliff.

I follow the track, which leads past holiday homes and a National Trust Property, Plas yn Rhiw. A sign points to a tea-shop. It’s tempting, but I don’t dare stop. There’s a long way to go.

13 walking the Wales Coast Path, Ruth looking across Porth Neigwl

Further on and the track is closed where part of the roadway has slipped down the cliff, but luckily you can still walk past the obstruction.

I climb steadily uphill. The track becomes a path. Hell’s Mouth dwindles behind me.

14 climbing hightowards Penarfynydd, Ruth on the Wales Coast Path

This is a beautiful walk through an unspoilt area of open-access land, owned by the National Trust. I enjoy it tremendously and am surprised to meet nobody else.

Finally I reach the top of the climb. Over the brow of the hill I see the countryside fall away, and in the distance is another shoreline. I’ve reached the final finger of the Llyn Peninsula. Tomorrow I’ll turn the corner and be walking along that far coast.

15 over fields to Aberdaron, Ruth hiking the Wales Coast Path, Llyn

Now I’ve reached a beautiful headland, called Mynydd Penarfynydd, also owned by the National Trust. It makes such a difference. No sheep-trampled mud. No fences. Just a wonderful area of stony heath. I stop by the trig point…

16 trig point on Mynydd Penarfynfdd, Ruth hiking in Wales, Aberdaron

… and use its concrete surface to balance my camera and take a self-portrait. Hell’s Mouth (or Porth Neigwl, its Welsh name) is in the background.

17 self-portrait, Ruth Livingstone on Mynydd Penarfynydd, Wales

At the end of the headland is a pile of rocks. I climb up as high as I dare, and sit down for a rest and a snack. In the distance I can just make out the snow-capped peaks of Mount Snowdon and, further around the bay, the white top of Cader Idris. I take photographs, but the mountains are too far away and too hazy for decent shots.

Ahead of me, somewhere, is Aberdaron. But I can’t see it yet.

18 looking towards Aberdaron, Ruth on Penarfynydd

Mynydd Penarfynydd seems popular. Several families arrive and start climbing among the rocks. Time to go.

The coastal path turns inland once again and joins a road for a short distance, before the path dips down into a pretty cove, Porth Ysgo, before meandering along the side of the cliffs. This is a new section of coast path, opened I assume after persuading the landowners to allow walkers across their land.

The sun is low and the view ahead is too bright for photography. I turn around and take a photo looking back to Mynydd Penarfynydd

19 looking back to Mynydd Penarfynydd, Ruth on the Llyn Coastal Path, Wales

I’m walking above waterfalls, rocky outcrops, and caves: Maen Gwenonwy, Clog Cidwm, Ogof Morlo, Ogof Llwyd. Welsh is a tongue-twisting language.

When I round the next headland I can see a beach ahead and, finally, Aberdaron in the distance.

20 looking towards Aberdaron, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path

I would have liked to climb down to the beach, but the cliffs are too high. Instead, the path turns inland and I come to a place where the farmer, obviously nervous of marauding walkers, has fenced off his fields on both sides. This creates a narrow track. And here I meet a tiny lamb.

The lamb panics when it sees me and runs down the track, bleating plaintively. I walk as slowly and quietly as I can, but it keeps bounding ahead of me. Meanwhile, sheep in the fields on the other side are reacting to its bleats. There is a cacophony of sound: hundreds of ewes and lambs are trying to find each other.

The track continues for a few hundred yards. I walk past several different fields. The lamb is still running ahead, bleating mournfully, and only stops when we come to a gate.

21 lamb running between fences, Wales

I shoo the lamb back down the path. My feet are tired, but how will this little baby ever find its mother again? I feel I have no choice but to drive it back to where I found it. There is no obvious way through the fence, and I don’t dare lift it over in case I put it in the wrong field. So I just have to leave it and hope for the best.

Walking back, I discover a recently dead lamb on the other side of the gate. Terribly sad. I wonder if, like my little lamb, it had got onto the path and ended up here, unable to find its mother. Without milk it would have died of starvation.

22 dead lamb number 2, Ruth hiking in Wales

It strikes me the farmers are to blame. If they simply let walkers amble across their fields, instead of fencing us off, the lambs wouldn’t have been trapped and separated from their mums.

The path joins a road and I see a young man lurking in a hedge. I feel a pang of unease, until I realise he’s got the giggles.

Turns out he’s been trying to help his father drive some sheep down the road. But the sheep had other ideas, have turned off into a driveway, and are currently rampaging through somebody’s garden. The farmer is trying to round them up and has left his abandoned vehicle sitting in the road.

road walking into Aberdaron, Ruth's coast walk, Wales

I pass a narrow valley where a group of cattle are huddled in the mud. They look so miserable! Obviously it was too early to let them out.

24 muddy cows, Aberdaron, Ruth's coastal hike, Wales

The road swings round a curve and heads downhill towards Aberdaron. I take a photo of the approach to the town – and the double-roofed church perched above the sea.

25 Aberdaron, Ruth's coastal walk in Wales

The light is low in the sky and I’m tired, having walked further than I planned today. It’s time to find my car.

Miles walked today = 17 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 739 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,346 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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24 Responses to 225 Hell’s Mouth to Aberdaron

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, well I had to laugh ….sorry. I just thought “…I’ve walked over 4 miles and got, precisely, nowhere.” was very quite amusing. Sometimes, events can make us very frustrated, I know they do me. When I went through Hells Mouth, I must have spent 20 minutes in one field trying to find an exit!! To cap it all it as I was descending off Mynydd Penarfynydd I went a%** over tip into a gorse bush! I was extracting thorns from my hands for over a week!

    Anyway its all character building and helps you prepare for future mishaps. The signage for the WCP on the approach to Aberdaron was poor when I did it.

    Just back from a jaunt in North Somerset, along the River Parret, I actually saw today what I should have seen last week due to the fog.

    • Ha ha, well it IS amusing looking back. Not at the time.
      Read your account of the River Parrett. I made my way down the west bank – with great difficulty – just before they breached the wall and created the marsh near Steart. I think the path was probably officially closed, but I didn’t know it at the time and was just following the map. Lots of nettles, brambles, thistles and very frisky bullocks.

  2. Liz brown says:

    I know the hells mouth area very well .
    The coastal erosion is unrelenting. There is a farmhouse half way along the bay which is gradually getting closer to the edge.
    The original road fell away twice and had to be rebuilt , causing huge diversions for the locals for many months .
    The new road is now higher up the hillside. The campsite at the far end of the beach used to be wide and now it is so narrow in comparison.
    What a shame you didn’t get to walk along the beach at low tide..its an easy ish route until you get to the fishermans path up to the bottom of the plas yn rhiw

  3. Hi Ruth. It sounds like you had quite a challenge on this stretch! We were lucky to be able to walk along the beach at Hell’s Mouth but had to scramble up from the beach on what was barely a path to reach the road at Rhiw. The coast path has eroded somewhat since we were there too.

    • I have a feeling the path up from the beach has completely gone now. While I was sitting there having a break, a young couple came bounding down from the road, heading for the beach, but they turned back and I’m guessing they couldn’t find a way down.

  4. Hi Ruth, I am still tuned in to your adventures, when I am unable to get out ‘there’ myself, your installments keep me keen. I also had a weird time walking Watchet to Cannington last year – horrendously diverted around the New Hinkley Point site, and the same issue approaching Steart with the marsh which confused the hell out of me and my gps…oh well, the rough with the smooth!

  5. babsandnancy says:

    You certainly had a good share of animal (dead and alive) encounters on this particular stretch. You do take such interesting and beautiful photos.

  6. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks. always a refreshing visit! Thom

  7. I walked along the beach but then couldn’t find the path up (a landslip ate it), which was a problem as the tide was coming in. In the end I had to scramble up one of the landslips—less tthan ideal! On the plus side, though, I didn’t have to climb over any locked gates.

  8. theresagreen says:

    Poor you, I can only imagine what a frustrating stretch this must have been, pleased to see you’re keeping your sense of humour though. I hadn’t realised that part of the coast had been so badly affected by erosion; I wonder if they’ll attempt to divert the Path to make it easier to walk?

    • Hi Theresa. It was a long walk and the first part was immensely frustrating, but the second half was so wonderful and interesting it didn’t seem like a long distance, and I finished full of energy 🙂

  9. Marie Keates says:

    I really hate it when I have to turn back so the beginning of your walk struck a chord. So sad to see all the dead lambs too. I hope the little one made its way back to its mother somehow.

    • I call it ‘wasted walking’, but I’m trying to be more relaxed and accepting of route changes! Yes, dead lambs are always sad. I know they’re only going to end up in the abattoir anyway, but at least they deserve a happy childhood first.

  10. rlbwilson says:

    Thanks for the post. We are hoping to walk this area later in the month so, forewarned! I’ll check for info about the erosion and diversions before we leave. But your next section of Llyn is lovely!

    • Good luck with your walk! There were landslips interrupting my previous day’s walk too – at the top end of Hell’s mouth. I wouldn’t be surprised if further diversions are in place by the time you get there. But yes, Llyn really is very lovely 🙂

  11. jcombe says:

    I did this walk today and it was lovely, though I went from Aberdaron to Abersoch. I was pleasantly surprised (as has happened a few times in this area) to find the route of the coastal path marked on the map is no longer current (even though I’ve got the latest map) because as you noted they seem to have got a new route now right along the coast east of Aberdaron, not along the roads as the map suggests. I see you also found that perhaps I should have re-read this before walking it! Also the route at Rhiw is more coastal than the map suggests (which shows another inland diversion along roads that is no longer needed).

    Hell’s Mouth must rank as one of the best beaches I’ve seen, really beautiful. By walking in the direction I did I was able to evaluate the path down to the beach. The sign said closed but I asked people coming the other way who a bit before who warned me “it’s like a mud bath, but you can get down”. Well it wasn’t that bad only the last few metres were over mud, but it was reasonably firm and I made it down OK. It was a wonderful walk along the beach. I think if possible it might be better to walk this walk in the other direction as I did rather than risk walking all the way along the beach and finding you can’t get up and have to walk back! At least going the way I did I knew I’d be able to get off at the other end of the beach.

  12. David L says:

    Tide was in so I couldn’t do the sands at Hell’s Mouth. Instead I had, like you, to follow iffy signposting across the fields.

    Coming into Aberdaron it is possible to drop onto the beach. There’s a picnic table beside the cliff-top path about a mile before the village and, next to it, a metal gate. I dropped down from this – broken ground with lots of holes, but nothing really dangerous or difficult, then straight onto the sand.

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