Post image for Wales Coast Path: Abersoch to Rhiw

Wales Coast Path: Abersoch to Rhiw

August 10, 2014 · 33 comments

Date walked: May 14th 2014

Distance: about 14 miles

OS map required: Explorer 253- lleyn Peninsula West

I had two guides that I referred to: The Lleyn Peninsula Coastal Path by John Cantrell and published by Cicerone (2010) and Llyn Peninsula – The Official Guide- by Carl Rogers and Tony Bowerman, published by Northern Eye Books (2014).

The above guides assume that you are walking north to south. Since I am doing the opposite the detailed directions are of very little benefit but all contain various and differing practical information and historic background and I will refer to them as I feel so moved.


For this and the next  post I was based in Criccieth, staying at 29 Castle Bakery booked through Menai Holiday Cottages (which is directly opposite the castle and is on the route of the Wales Coast Path).  I woke early and after a quick breakfast woke Anne to say goodbye and drove to Pwllheli, left the car there and then took a bus on to Abersoch. It was only just past 9 when the bus dropped me in the village.

The official route runs through a golf course where a few guys were already driving off.

Wales Coast Path outside Abersoch, photographed by Charles Hawes

One always feels a bit vulnerable to receiving a golf ball in the head on a golf course

At the far end of the course I backtracked for a 100 yards for a glimpse of the the beach at Borth Fawr before taking a little lane around the edge of the hamlet of Machroes.

The beach at Borth Fawr, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

No morning dippers

The residents of Machroes are very considerate in making it clear where the path does not go.

Sign at Machroes, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I wish to make it clear that I did not add the additional advice

After passing several more similar signs at the entrance to properties off this very rough track, a newish looking path heads for the coast. This section around the headland has been added since my map was produced, which shows no right of way here.

I was intrigued by a little circular stone building which gave me no clues as to its origins.

Stone building near Machroes, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Any ideas?

It was a beautiful morning and the wide grass path was lined with masses of bluebells.

Bluebells by the Wales Coast Path on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think the white ones are a natural variation

Out to sea, a motorboat with some fishermen rushed though the channel between the mainland and St Tudwal’s Island West. The St David’s Press guide says that the islands were bought by Clough Williams-Ellis to protect them from development so presumably his family has sold them (see caption below).

View to St Tudwal's Island West, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Wikipedia say the island is owned by Bear Grylls who has converted it into a holiday home.

This felt like one of the more remote parts of the path; just open fields and the song of skylarks.

The Wales Coast Path  near Trwyn yr Wylfa, photographed by Charles Hawes

A very peaceful spot

Then, streaking along the sea near the shore was my first sighting of dolphins in over 600 miles of walking this coast. I was ridiculously pleased and stood and watched as the pair swam by.

Dolphins off the coast of the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

I would say I was transfixed but that would be an awful cliché, so I won’t.

Fully zoomed and further cropped; I presume it isn't a shark

Fully zoomed and further cropped; I presume it isn’t a shark

After a mile and a half of this very pleasing section the path rounds the point called Trwyn yr Wylfa to give a view ahead to the beach at Porth Ceiriad.


View to Porth Ceiriad from the Wales Coast Path, photgraphed by Charles Hawes

One needs a few caravans on the horizon or it would be just too perfect.

On a calm day like today it is difficult to imagine that this perfect little beach offers (according to the Official guide) some of the best surfing in North Wales. The footpath keeps to a grassy track set back from the cliffs.

The Wales Coast Path above Porth Ceiriad, photographed by Charles Hawes

Perfect little beach but there are no facilities

About half way along the cove the official route currently diverts one inland but I found two Gwynedd Council chaps clearly working on a route that will keep to the cliff tops.

Extending the Wales Coast Path at Porth Ceriad, photographed by Charles Hawes

Well I had to ask

Being the stroppy bugger that I am I carried on towards them but finding myself the wrong side of their fence I climbed over it to speak to them. This, understandably, annoyed them rather a lot and I got a lecture about how I was doing exactly what the farmers complained about and about how this was private land until the footpath was officially opened and the Section 25 agreement signed. If I deserve any credit I did apologise and made my way back to where I was supposed to go.

Detour on the Wales Coast Path at Porth Ceiriad, photographed by Charles Hawes

Now that nice man at Gwynedd council that I keep writing to will definitely think I’m a bad’un

At the time of writing this (7th June 2104) this new section has still not been opened but since this isn’t being published until late July or early August you might want to re-check the latest map at the Wales Coast Path website).

Tail between my legs, I trudged up the hill and passed the little camping and caravan site at Nant – y -big reaching a little lane heading back towards the coast.  The Bethlehem chapel by the roadside had seen better days and no doubt is destined to make someone a nice home one day.

Bethlehem chapel near Mynydd Cilan, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

For the record I would have nothing against such a conversion

After half a mile on this lane  the path takes a wide track that leads to the National Trust farm, Muriau.

national Trust sign for Muriau, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The farm buildings were not very interesting

After the farm, the path crosses the fields and reaches the coast once more.

The Wales Coast Path near Trwyn Llech-y-doll, photographed by Charles Hawes

Looking back towards Porth Ceiriad- you’d worked that out hadn’t you?

Another super section followed of bluebell covered hillside….

Bluebell covered cliff tops on the Lleyn peninsula near Mynydd Cilan, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nice eh?

……and near sheer cliffs.

Cliffs near Mynydd Cilan, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Look away now, John

The path was wide and firm and allowed my attention to be given to the views out to the far side of Hell’s Mouth (aka Porth Neigwl if you prefer) and I began to play a game with myself of whether I could spot Plas-yn-Rhiw, which I know looks out onto the bay.

Sheep on cliff tops near Porth Neigwl, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Sheep and blue seas. What could be nicer? (Answer: ice cream)

And then the first view of the two mile beach of Hells Mouth commanded my attention and the hills behind.

View to Hells Mouth from the wales Coast path, photographed by Charles Hawes

I think I may have over-done the sky

There is a trig point (just 383 feet) near Pen- y-Mynydd and I used it’s flat top for a selfie.

Charles hawes at the trig point Pen - mynydd, photographed from The wales Coast Path

I know what you’re thinking; I should do this more often

In the ideal world the path would stick to the cliff tops right the way to the beach but I guess  there has been some lack of cooperation from a landowner or a logistical problem but the path veers inland briefly, passing a pond….

Pond near Porth Neigwl, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Ponds are always a good excuse for a nice reflection shot.

…. and then skirting Nant Farm….

View to nant farm from the wales Coast Path near Hell's Mouth

Who are you looking at?

….before dropping back down towards the beach.

I took the solitary caravan in my stride and ascribed the rubbish-strewn fence behind it to to natures westerly winds blowing rubbish off the beach rather than to littering caravan dwellers.

Carvan near Hells Mouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

One caravan doesn’t make a summer

The official route keeps to the low cliffs of soft earth, but only briefly, and then heads inland. With a low tide it was a no-brainer to take a beach route instead, although scrambling down to it was a little tricky.

Hell's Mouth, photographed from The wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Hell’s Mouth has had a lot of shipwrecks (just saying)

The next mile was beach walking bliss, but with little to report. I passed a corvid with a taste for seaweed……

Corvid eating seaweed at Hell's Mouth, lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Seaweed- yum!

…. I was rather pleased to see the rainbow colours in the foam that Peter Watson so consummately captured in his book…

Beach foam at Hell's Mouth on the Lleyn peninsula photographed by Charles Hawes

Even turning up the saturation and contrast to maximum I could’t get this to look as lurid at Watson did

…. and I pondered over a large concrete construction at the back of the beach.

Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Any suggestions?

For most of the time, as usual, I had the place to myself.

Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

One of my best beach pics (after Watson)

One walking group did pass me, making for Abersoch and I waved a cheery hello. It was quite a taxing walk because of the variable firmness of the sand, so that I constantly altered my position relative to the waves.

Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

I do like the occasional Robinson Crusoe shot

Towards the far end of the beach I became more and more struck by the fantastic shapes that were being carved into the muddy cliffs by the weather.

Cliffs at Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Their vulnerability to erosion was very obvious, chasms being being created by the collapsing earth…..

Cliffs at Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

…. sometimes leaving pinnacles of mud which will no doubt be felled by the next great storm.

Cliffs at Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Half-buried in the soft sand a rusting boiler (I thought) added a picturesque element into this otherwise pristine beach.

Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Then the sand gives way to a rocky platform which was difficult negotiate but I could not find the path that my map suggested would take me off the beach.

Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

I wonder why this end is so stony?

I slowly picked my way round the last of the bay. As I did so, an unpleasant smell bacame a gut-wrenching stench before I came across the rotting carcass of a seal.

Carcass of seal on Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

Apologies if you are squeamish

Ahead on the shore was a sweet little cottage and knowing that this would have a track leading off the beach, I made for that.

View to Hell's Mouth (Porth Neigwl) beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

I was quite pleased to be on solid ground again

Sure enough, the track climbed back up the  hillside, passing several more ruined cottages until it reached the lane which climbs steeply past the entrance to Plas-yn-Rhiw (which I had photographed for the award-winning “Discovering Welsh Gardens“).

entrance to Plas-yn-Rhiw garden, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s a sweet little place- do go sometime

The official path appears to go behind the property but I saw no reason to try and re-find it and the lane was quiet so I huffed and puffed my way up the hill, noting half way a waymark sign that told me that I was then back on the route proper. The reward at the top of the hill was a fine view over a field of oil seed rape to Hell’s Mouth.

View over Hell's Mouth from Rhiw, photographed from The wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Great colour combination by Mrs Nature (and Lightroom)

Rhiw is a quiet place with no shops or facilities. But it does have a bus stop. There was one bus leaving Aberdaron that afternoon for Pwllheli. I was two hours early for it. So I sat in the shade and chatted to passing locals and a group of guys out for day’s walk who were very impressed by my have walked from Chepstow. Well you would be, wouldn’t you?



{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil August 10, 2014 at 7:05 am

Morning 🙂 A good read for this very wet and windy morning. Looks a lovely days walk, bluebells, beaches, views and solitude. Splendid ( rotting seal carcasses aside…. Could smell it from here ).


Charles August 10, 2014 at 8:44 am

Hiya. Nice to have both my Southerdown fans commenting. Yes, one that you would have enjoyed. But I’ve saved you the effort.


Marice August 10, 2014 at 8:11 am

Dead seals, dolphins and a great selfy, what more can one ask.


Charles August 10, 2014 at 8:46 am

Ice cream. One can always ask for ice cream. And chocolate. Nice day for dog walking. ????


Iain Robinson August 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

Hi Charles,
I think the rusty boiler is from the 37 ton wooden coastal steamer “The Aggravator” which sank while carrying a cargo of coal in 1858. (
The concrete structure is possibly from the landward end of the jetty and ropeway that served the Benallt Manganese mine.

Another very readable and enjoyable blog post, thanks Charles!
cheers, Iain


Charles August 10, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks Iain. And well done for finding that boiler link. And the jetty sounds plausible. Was wondering about WWII left over. Can I appoint you my post-industrial historic consultant? Lots more to come.


Iain Robinson August 10, 2014 at 8:26 am



Anne Wareham August 10, 2014 at 8:43 am

Must pay better attention to punctuation (don’t go and correct it all now or people will wonder what I’m on about..) but otherwise my ideal walk. (To read about in bed…)


Charles August 10, 2014 at 9:01 am

Doh! (Thanks). At least it wasn’t spelling.


John August 10, 2014 at 8:47 am

Loved this longer-than-usual post with all the pics. No problem with the cliff as you were looking across it and not down it.

It’s rumoured that the circular stone structure is a planter, built by locals who had learned of a grumpy old git walking the coast, moaning about caravan gardens, window boxes and the like and they thought this might cheer him up a bit.

I’m intrigued by the daily difference in your treatment of Anne. Day 1 has a nice mention that she came to Criccieth with you, Day 2 you presumably spent together. Day 3 she gets breakfast in bed before you leave. But she gets totally ignored on day 4 and on day 5 you merely interrupt her dreams and leave. Can’t wait to see how she fares on day 5.


Charles August 10, 2014 at 9:00 am

Thanks John. It’s getting a bit out of handing the Lleyn. I had to split the day from Morfa Nefyn because there was so much going on! Love the idea of tower being put up for my benefit. Hope I have some North Wales readers that will entertain me when I am alongside the A55. You’ll just have to stay in suspense about day 5 #leave em wanting more


rob grover August 10, 2014 at 9:17 am

Just what we all needed on this tail end of Bertha day, a dose of blue skies and blue bells. I’m rather tired of seeing Bertha tracking across the Atlantic; have you noticed that weather forecasts are doing less forecasting these days and more and more reviews of what we’ve already had?
Good to see the dolphins; two seals watched us as we walked along the seafront at Amroth. We expected these to be the first of many as we walked round Pembrokeshire, but we haven’t seen one since (breeding season reasons I expect).
I suppose one should condemn all graffiti ( Old Lifeboat House), but sometimes it seems deserved and you have to smile. Still raining- come on Bertha


Charles August 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

Congratulations! That’s the 1200th comment I have had on my blog!Bertha. Can’t get enough of her. Am heading to Yorkshire today just so that I can keep abreast of her (he he). I saw LOTS of seals when we were in Pembrokeshire, so there. And I love graffiti; makes my day when I see something out of the ordinary. (Am I getting inured from the beauty of the coast?)


Neil August 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Can’t imagine she’ll like you referring to her as Bertha…. All blustery and wind….


Charles August 11, 2014 at 8:36 pm

She understands me. She peed on me on and off all morning.


Adam Hodge August 10, 2014 at 11:14 am

A good read Charles. Although my propensity to go for long walks is more in keeping with Anne’s preferences, I find myself thinking it would be worth following your footsteps especially on the coastline parts.[ I find the huffing and puffing up hills increasingly exhausting.]


Paul Shepherd August 11, 2014 at 11:59 am

As far as I can tell, the concrete structure is indeed a WD ‘leftover’. RAF Hells Mouth was a gunnery training station and the concrete ‘butts’ are pockmarked with bullet holes on the landward side.

Since the storms some sections of the target supply rail network has started to show again, just a few sleepers and lengths of track but interesting all the same.

Nice to read about your walk, its all very local to me!


Charles August 11, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Many thanks Paul. I think that’s conclusive. Would welcome your local knowledge about any other future or past questions.


julia August 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

Yes, my father was stationed there in the war – doing manoeuvres and running PE training.


Charles August 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Really. That’s interesting- and makes it clear now. Thanks.


rob grover August 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

You missed a trick with the selfie, along the lines ‘And next we have Charles,who, for this walk, is wearing…’,


Charles August 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Blimey, you’ll be writing the post for me next!


Sue Stewart August 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm

We believe the concrete construction near Hells Mouth is part of a WW2 RAF training area


Charles August 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Thanks Sue!


Paul Steer August 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Are you quite sure that it wasn’t your advice scratched on that notice? It seems like a sentiment you would share having had the experience of walking and talking with you! Very uplifting photos – apart from the rotting seal . Hope the Dales are dry.


Charles August 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Definitley not my hand writing!(though I might share the sentiment). The Dales dry? Haha. Not exactly. Several soakings to report.


David Marsden August 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Porth Ceiriad is a very special place for my partner’s family. His Mum and Dad went as kids with their families and so when they met you can imagine their delight at sharing memories of such a special, if pretty obscure beach. They have now been visiting for over seventy years – and their children take their own children. And so it goes. I’ve been too, camping in the site above the beach and it was where I first saw wild dolphins. They are obviously two a penny at Porth Ceiriad . D


Charles August 28, 2014 at 10:55 am

That’s a really nice comment David. Its great to hear how sometimes the blog connects people to their own histories. Thanks for sharing that.


Tom August 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm

We love the Llyn Peninsula and your photography and description has just brought this walk to life. We have done a number of long distance walks and talked about doing the full Llyn coastal path but so far never got round to it.


Ian Warburton May 6, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Hi Charles ref concrete structures on Hell’s Mouth have you seen this web site


Charles May 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Dear Ian, No I hadn’t seen this site, which is great. Thanks for sharing it. Do drop by again!


TOM Bennett September 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm

An enjoyable and informative internet walk. I was about to correct the date of the Aggravator Boiler, but then see that Iain has corrected it himself. The photo of the round structure looks to me like a fire beacon, there is probably another a mile away which would be a clearing transit for Sarn Badrig Causeway. If it is a solitary one it may have been lit to help vessels come inside the Causeway. There is another one of these near Monk Haven, St Ishmaels to guide vessels into Milford Haven, probably dated to about 1640. Have a look if there are remnants of ash or fuel inside or beside the structure. I would guess a lighthouse, it is obviously not a limekiln, but maybe a sheep fold/ drovers hut .


Charles October 7, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Hi Tom. Apologies for the delay in my reply. What an interesting email address you have. Shipwrecks. Philippines. The mind boggles. Anyway your thoughts are much appreciated. Though I can’t see me going back any time soon for further investigations but future readers of the post will have food for thought.


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