When I reach Nefyn, I realise the tide is high and the beach is covered. I don’t want to risk road-walking again, so I decide to follow the official Llyn Coast Path even though it meanders inland. The path gets off to an unpromising start along the edge of a modern housing estate.
[I’m already feeling somewhat frustrated because I’ve had a late start and I’m actually retracing my steps and ‘double-walking’ the first 2 miles today. Turns out there is no direct bus link between Trefor and Nefyn, but – fellow walker Alan Palin was right – all the bus routes pass through Pwllheli eventually. So I left my car at Trefor and caught a bus into Pwllheli, and then another bus from Pwllheli up to Nefyn.]
After wading through mud, the path improves and I’m soon following an old track that links a scattering of isolated cottages and passes along a slope above farmland.
I come across a spring. Ffynnon John Morgan. No other information is given, and I wonder who John Morgan was and how long his well has been here.
The weather is dull and cold, but there is only a light breeze to bother me. It makes a nice change from the gales of the past couple of days!
The views to my left are attractive, despite the grey light. Below me is Nefyn and in the distance is the isthmus of Porth Dinllaen, where I can just make out the wonderful Ty Coch Inn where I ate lunch yesterday.
My track becomes a grassy sward. I look down on a caravan park with mixed feelings. A good place to stay and good for the local economy, but never an attractive sight.
The hill above me is called Gwylwyr, and it’s the site of an old quarry. At one point the path becomes a scramble down the tumbled stones of the quarry workings. It’s treacherous underfoot, but better than mud.
The path winds through farmland, becoming very muddy indeed, and then a short stretch of track leads me down to the coastal road. Now I’m back at the point I reached on my walk yesterday.
I cross the road, glad to see signs for the coast path, pleased to be heading towards the coast again, and relieved my section of ‘double walking’ is over.
Across more farmland, and ahead looms the dark mass of Yr Eifl. At 564 meters, the main peak of Yr Eifl is just under the minimum height for a mountain (610 metres), but it looks like a mountain to me. And its summit is hidden by dark clouds.
Although the coast path doesn’t actually climb over the topmost peak of Yr Eifl, I know it’s a steep route over the shoulder of the hill, and I’m already worrying about it.
I reach a tiny hamlet, Pistyll, where I pass a sweet little church tucked into a fold of the hill and overlooking the sea. The actor Rupert Davies is buried here with his wife.
After Pistyll, the path leads across open access land along the slopes of a hill, called Gwylfa, towards a lumpy headland, called Penrhyn Glas. It’s attractive countryside…
… with plenty of sheep and little lambs. I particularly like the mottled two-tone colouring of these sheep. Are they Welsh Mountain Sheep? They seem alert and inquisitive, and not particularly afraid of humans.
The path becomes very muddy at the top of Penrhyn Glas, where my map indicates there is both a spring and a ford. Hard to tell if this is a ford – looks like a bog to me.
And going down the other side is even worse. More like a swamp than a field. I manage to get lost and end up on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence. I can tell from footprints in the mud that I’m not the only walker who has strayed from the path, and I soon find a section of fence that is low enough to climb over.
The quarry-scarred headland of Penrhyn Glas is behind me now, and I’m looking ahead across the bay of Porth y Nant. The distant peak is one of the trio of peaks that make up Yr Eifl.
The path skirts around the cliffs above Porth y Nant, and I come across more mud…
… meanwhile the sky is growing darker and threatening rain.
Now the path becomes steeper and narrower, heading down the slope of the cliff. I’m worried it will rain and the route will become even more slippery and treacherous. But, apart from my niggling anxiety, this is one of the highlights of the walk. A challenging path, nobody around, unspoilt coastline = coastal walking at its best.
I pass through groves of trees, twisted and stunted by the winds.
And reach the shore of Porth y Nant, in an area full of the ruins of the old quarry industry that used to dominate this area. After walking for some miles in splendid isolation, it’s always a shock to come across people.
I shelter in the lee of a ruined wall – the breeze is cold – and eat my snack lunch while watching children play. They slide down the piles of leftover gravel and shale, raising clouds of grey dust.
After lunch, I follow a wide road up and out of the valley, and reach a place called Nant Gwrtheyrn. Suddenly I realise what the HC on my map means. Heritage Centre. And in fact this is a Welsh language centre, based around the old quarry settlement. There is even a café. I could have had a nice hot lunch instead of a cold snack. If only I’d known!
I follow the road out of Nant Gwrtheyrn, passing renovated quarry-worker cottages which now act as residences for the centre…
… and past some ruined buildings which are clearly uninhabitable now.
The road walking is very tedious, but there is no other way out of the valley. Signs say the surrounding tree plantations are too dangerous to walk through, and I see plenty of evidence of fallen trees and forest landslips. So I stick to the road, which snakes slowly up the hill. It’s a long slog.
At least the views are wonderful when I get close to the top. Dry-stone walls create a tracery across the fields below, which are dotted with tumbled-down ruins.
At the top of the road I come across a car park and meet other walkers. A couple of women tell me they are pleased they have managed to navigate across all three peaks of Yr Eifl this morning. Family groups are walking about.
The footpath up to Yr Eifl – the one I’ve been worrying about all day – turns out to be a wide, easy gravel track. Where parts of the pathway have slipped away, cones and barriers fence off the crevasse. It’s more like a motorway than a mountain path.
I overtake several couples, all younger than me. (It’s a delightful surprise to realise that I’m fitter and faster than many of the casual walkers I meet!) Ahead is a family group. I’m slowly gaining on them, when they turn off the main path, heading for the highest peak of the hill. I can hear the children complaining. ‘Are we nearly there?’
The path leads up to a pass between two of the peaks. It’s always wonderful to scale a slope and see a new vista revealed. I stop for a rest and a snack, take photographs and admire the view. In the distance are the mountains of Snowdonia. I check my map. The nearest group of peaks are Moel-Pen-llechog, Gyrn Ddu and Gyrn Goch.
At this point the wide track leads up to an old quarry, but the coastal path leaves it and heads down the hill. It’s narrow in places and there is yet more mud, so it takes some time to climb down.
I enjoy the views. Below me is the village of Trefor, where my car is parked. Beyond is the broad reach of Caernarfon Bay and the distant line of land must be…I check my map…must be Anglesey.
Sadly the light is too dull for decent photographs, but I very much enjoy this section of the walk. Near the base of the hill my path becomes an old, sunken lane. Later I learn that Trefor was where many quarry workers lived. They must have used this same lane when going up to work on the slopes of Yr Eifl, and the same route for carrying stones down to the jetty at Trefor.
I arrive in Trefor with muddy boots and tired legs. I was planning on continuing a little further (the coastal path makes a semi-circular detour around the village), but the sky has darkened and it begins to rain. I decide I’ve walked far enough and head into the village to find my car.
Miles walked today = 9 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 781.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,388.5 miles