Post image for Wales Coast Path: Criccieth to Pwllheli

Wales Coast Path: Criccieth to Pwllheli

July 13, 2014 · 23 comments

Date walked: 12th May 2014

Distance: 11 miles

Cumulative “official” total of miles walked along The Wales Coast Path: 612

(A guide to the whole path published by St David’s Press in May 2014 claims that the route is 892 miles)

The website of the Wales Coast Path is

OS map required:  Explorer 254- lleyn Peninsula East

I get all my maps from Dash4it. They are well discounted, and delivery is free and fast.

I had two guides that I referred two for the first 5 days of walks on the Lleyn: 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).

Both books assume that you are walking from north to south. This is the “official” direction but I am walking in the opposite direction. This makes both guides  of limited use as any written instructions are impossible to follow backwards.  I would hope to do a post comparing the two guides once I have completed the whole of the Lleyn stretch.


For this and the next three posts 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. So the start of my day was easy; a late breakfast, providing Anne with her toast in bed and  then straight out of the door and onto the path.

Today was a much nicer day and Criccieth castle looked splendid close too.

Criccieth castle, Lleyn peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I’m slightly ashamed to say that we never visited it.

The road turns a corner and then passes a terrace, painted the washed out end of pastel, several of which are Bed and Breakfasts.

Sea front at Criccieth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

This makes Tenby look garish

As the road turns back into town, the path takes a cliff top route behind some low hedges.

The wales Coast path as it leaves Criccieth, Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Thanks to the council for keeping the hedge low

(The Cicerone Guide is out of date here as the cliff-top route is open). The property called Cefn Castell is in the process of being re-built in a Modernist style.  The new house is said to be inspired by the Clough Williams-Ellis designed Cafe Morannedd on the beach at Criccieth.

Re-building Cefn Castell, Criccieth, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

The blog was written in 2011 so this project must have had some problems

The path now affords a view over the beach at Ynysgain (the National Trust has some property here and manages the beach), the spit of shingle at the mouth of the Afon Dwyfor jutting out into the sea. The river is wide here and there is no crossing.

Afon Dwyfor, Lleyn penisula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Sings: ” the water is wide, and I can’t cross over, and neither can I fly”

There being no crossing, the official route of the path now heads inland for half a mile to Llanystumdwy and suggests a two-mile walk alongside the A497 to Afon Wen before returning to the coast. No, I say, that is not acceptable.  (The route shown in Cicerone guide is now very out of date between here near Pwllheli). The riverside path continues to the railway line and stops.

The railawy line crossing the Afon Dwyfor on the Lleyn penisula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Of course you should not follow in my footsteps

Knowing that the train services were suspended I hopped over the fence and took the railway bridge for 30 yards and then left it for a footpath that crosses the line and heads straight for the beach. I think it really ought to be possible to improve the official route by offering a footbridge here.

Footpath to Ty' n-y-Morfa, Lleyn peninsula, photogpahed by  Charles Hawes

And a very nice little path it is ,too

The reed lined banks of the river were a delight .

Reed lined banks of the Afon Dwyfor, Lleln penisula, photographed by Charles Hawes

A treat I would have missed if I had stayed on the official route

The little cottage, though plain, was splendidly isolated, but once I had climbed a fence and scrabbled down the large rocks protecting the land my prize was another deserted beach.

Beach  with view to Pwllheli photographed by Charles Hawes

I can understand this being deserted; there is no obvious way to get to it from land

As beach walks go, this had several interesting features. The most striking were the hundreds of burrows of cliff swallows that these delightful birds had tunnelled into the soft earth of the low cliffs.

Swallows nests in the cliffs on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

There must be something particular about this narrow strata that all their nests were in

I approached them for a closer look, fascinated by their comings and goings (and failing to get a shot of the birds on the wing).

Nesting places of Cliff Swallows on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Shame I couldn’t get a pic of them in flight

Another feature of this stretch was the dramatically contrasting geology/soil structure.

Cliffs on the Lleln peninsula near Pwllheli, photograhed by Charles Hawes

Can’t really help you with what the strata are called

For those of an ornithological interest, I did manage to snap at a distance a cormorant, drying its wings in the breeze.

Cormorant on the coast of the lleyn penisula, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’ve not got a fabulous zoom on my camera

Wormcasts are not one of the  common features of beaches that I think I have commented on before.

Wormcasts on beach of the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

I guess the wormcasts are not what you might first notice here.

Close to, though, they are fun little things.

Worm casts on sandy beach on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Little piles of worm poo

As I reached the end of my private beach my eye was also taken by the way that the tides had moulded and worn some low wooden breakers.

Wooden breakers on a beach on the Lleyn penisula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Neat eh – I should do more macro pics

At the end of the beach I was re-united with the Wales Coast Path as a footbridge crossing the little Afon Wen meets a railway bridge and another bridge taking a track to some nearby houses.

Bridges over the Afon Wen, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

The meeting of the bridges

Back to the beach, passing a sewage works on the way and a static caravan park.

Caravan Park near Prth Fechan on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

It wouldn’t be a normal day without a caravan park

This turned out to be a caravan park with a rich and varied architecture and a sense of adventure……

Holiday park near Porth Fechan on the Lleyn peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Adventures this way

….and a concern for their visitors health……

Exercise area of Holiday park near PorthFechan, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Yes, well spotted, that is some dog poo in the exercise area

……and, a sense of humour (this is, I think, the back end of Hafn y Mor, which operated as Pwhelli Butlins between 1947 and 1987 and where a colleague met her husband when she was working as a red coat)

Sign on the wales Coast Path near Porth Fecan, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

You’d have a job getting to the cliff through that lot

After all that excitement,the reluctant waves lapping the shores of Porth Fechan were very calming.

The beach at Porth Fechan on the Lleyn Peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Breathe in….and breathe out.

Also very pleasant was the  bluebell-covered promontory of Pen- ychain that followed.

View  to Snowdonia from Pen-Y- Chain, Lleyn Peninsula, photographed from The Wsales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Fab views back to Snowdonia hills

There was a profusion of  thrift and to add to this natural beauty, several remnants of what I took to be World War II defences.

Carpets of Thrift on Pen-y-Chain point in the lleyn peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Altogether a very special place

I think what I like about seeing these places is that reminder of  the recent period in history when  we were under threat from foreign invasion (mind you, judging by the recent elections to the European Parliament many still feel that way now).

remnants of World War II defences at  Pen-y-Chain photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I couldn’t find anything about the defences

At the end of this rocky outcrop the two mile beach of Morfa Aberech runs all the way to Pwllheli, and despite the very fine day it appeared deserted.

View down Morfa Abererch from Pen-y-chain, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

No fiddling about required for this picture perfect shot

It being low tide I made my way down to the beach, its back marked not by cliffs but sand dunes.

Sandunes at the back of Morfa Abererch, Lleyn peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

I love these simple pics

A pair of cormorants were sunbathing and as I walked towards them they kept flying ahead and taking up new positions on the shore until giving up in the face of my relentless disturbance to their peace and quiet.

Cormorants on Morfa Abererch, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Sometimes you can’t help disturbing nature

Beach walking is a delight but also a skill. The skill is in constantly monitoring the firmness of the surface and adjusting your route accordingly.

Morfa Abererch photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

A bit too soft here

What one wants is the sand to have just the right amount of moisture; too wet or too dry and you sink into the surface at every step making it hard work. (making the perfect sand castles is also about moisture content, as every child learns).

The land behind the beach being so low and so soft, it is clearly very vulnerable to erosion and all manner of methods are employed to keep the sea at bay.

Sea defences at Morfa Abererch, Lleyn Peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Sea defences at Morfa Abererch, Lleyn Peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Sea defences at Morfa Abererch, Lleyn Peninsula, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes


Half way along the beach the official route directs you inland to Abererch station and suggests a mile and a half walk by the A497 into Pwllheli. I understand why as between the railway line and the beach there is no high tide alternative but I was having none of that on this perfect of low tides.

I continued on towards the hook of land that holds the entrance to Pwllheli harbour.

Beach at low tide at Pwllheli, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s getting a bit muddy now

The sea wall at the harbour entrance meant that I needed to find my way out so I climbed its pebble covered banks by the marina, admiring a low growing lime-green little plant that had colonised its sides.

Plant in the sea walls at Pwllheli, photographed by Charles Hawes

Any suggestions?

The far side of the harbour has been colonised by hybrid static homes/bungalows.

Pwllheli harbour, photographed by Charles Hawes

I don’t know what you should call these places. Are people allowed to live here full time?

Having made my way around the back of the marina I had to walk through the boat-yards to get back to the town.

Pwllheli Marina, photographed by Charles Hawes

I like boats in all their sizes but have never fancied owning one

I re-joined the official coast path route for a stroll along the edge of the marina before arriving at the centre of town.

Railings at Pwllheli marina photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Rather a nice railing

Pwllheli is not one of Wales’ pretty towns.

Pwllheli, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Nicely co-ordinated with the railings

Pwllheli, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s not horrid, either just a bit, well, ordinary.

At the end of the marina, just near the bus station is a parade of shops with a Weatherspoons where people go to get drunk cheaply and a discount book shop. I had a few minutes to spare before getting the bus back to Criccieth so I popped in. There were two books I wanted; The Wales Coast, by Peter Watson, which I bought and reviewed recently on this blog. The second, which I did not have enough cash for was the AA book of Country Gardens. I wanted this for no other reason than I had supplied the publishers with several photographs and Veddw is in it. For once vanity took a back seat.


{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Olga July 13, 2014 at 7:07 am

This is grand, Charles. I wish I could snap my fingers and find myself standing there, on the beach like Morfa… Thank you for sharing your journey!


Charles July 13, 2014 at 8:11 am

Thanks. Yes, as my starting point has got further away from home I sometimes wish that I could be teletransported, but then the drives to north Wales across country have been fabulous. Havong said that I have just got myself a flight from Cardiff to Angelsey to do part of the Coast path there in a couple of weeks time.


Neil July 13, 2014 at 8:03 am

Interesting walk /blog. From the railway bridge on sounds and looks deserted and delightful. 🙂


Charles July 13, 2014 at 8:12 am

Hiya. Yes it was a goodie. Back on track for two-weekly posts for a while.


Iain Robinson July 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

A very interesting and enjoyable post, as always. Pwllheli is not pretty, but it does have it’s moments…there are some interesting buildings in the town proper although it is very congested because of the narrow road layout. I was harangued recently for taking a photograph of a wonderful rusty cast iron gate, facing the street in Pwllheli…told it was “private property” …an interesting one, that.
cheers, Iain


Charles July 13, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Iain! Yes, the backstreets are much more interesting than the town centre. If you are in a public place you can take pictures of whatever you like!


Marice July 13, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Loved the photo of the sand dune with wooden posts. Not a place that looks interesting enough to follow in your footsteps but an enjoyable read. Would have loved to have seen the birds, that seemed a rare treat. You do know Neil wants a standing caravan!


Charles July 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

You’ve got great taste- that was one of my favourites, too. Yes, the birds were fab. Neil should try and buy the mobile home near Aberystwyth featured in Hinterland. I walked passed it. fabulous spot. Might even be in one of my pics. Next to a ruined house. Mind you, it would be better if he got the house done up.


Neil July 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I want a proper one. None of that ‘next to to ruined houses’ lark. I want mine in the middle of the park, surrounded by carbon copies…. Caravans as far as the eye can see… Which is probably a couple of rows in each direction.


Charles July 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

You’re a sad man.


Paul Steer July 13, 2014 at 10:52 pm

In my unqualified opinion your arty photography is improving – I particularly like the wormcasts and the rust. Your description of this part of the coast makes it an enticing prospect for an off piste walk- apart from the railway!


John July 14, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Maybe Charles has taken the praise for your photos to heart more than we expected and is seeking to emulate you, albeit using subjects that are unlikely to move while he composes his shot carefully. Nonetheless, his pics are always good. Whilst the railway is currently closed (and the rust on the tracks confirms this), that may not be the case when Charles gets round to writing his book. Indeed, he’s probably going to have to re-walk a lot of the coast to replace the dangerous bits (especially going 0ff-piste after a night in the pub).

I wonder whether the gun emplacements had anything to do with HMS Glendower (which is what the Haven park was initially – a RN training camp which apparently included gunnery). Although there are accounts of German bombers flying to Merseyside from across North Wales, I wouldn’t have thought they’d have flown all the way to the Lleyn first.


Charles July 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Of course, I would always take anything that paul has to say to heart. And thanks for the praise! If a book does indeed happen I think that I’ll have enough material even without the naughty bits.Or the missing bits. Thanks for the specualtion about the gun emplacements. Who knows? Onwards and upwards. Am on a firm two-week schedule now for posts. Hope you’ll drop in on the next one.


Charles July 14, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Haha. thanks. You are more qualified than most to assess my artiness!


Tony Bowerman July 14, 2014 at 8:16 am

You have a grand eye for the small things in a landscape. Reminds me of an article by John Fowles about the real meaning and pleasures of walking; NOT the ‘right gear, twenty miles a day’ approach. Smeshing!


Charles July 14, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Thanks for your generous comments Tony. (you’ll be pleased to know that I have warmed to your Lleyn Guide as I have used it more)


julia July 14, 2014 at 8:35 am

very good – felt I was there too. I do like your landscape shots as against portrait and the ‘simple’ ones are quite magical.


Charles July 14, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Thanks Julia. Interesting that you prefer the landscape to portrait pics, though I guess a coast often lends itself to a more horizontal veiw and I am always cropping images to exagerate this.


David Marsden July 15, 2014 at 6:29 pm

What a grand walk and with some grand photos too. And a castle too – always a bonus. Are you still just using your phone? I hadn’t even heard of cliff swallows. Do you think they might have been sand martins? I only ask because I can’t seem to find any UK sightings of cliff swallows online. And no, I say too. Well done for leaving the official path behind – it often pays off doesn’t it? Especially when it is so obviously just daft. Dave


Charles July 16, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Thanks Dave. No all the pics were taken with my Canon G15 and processed from RAW files. I only occasionally use a pic off the phone. And the blog is written from a desktop PC. I did do the blog on The Way of St James off the phone but it was a nightmare!Yes, I’ll always choose the better looking route if I don’t fancy the official one.


Jessica A. Hawes July 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

I enjoyed your blog and the super pics. I think the nests in the cliffs were belonging to Sand Martins. Don’t think “cliff swallows” exist except in your imagination. Suppose Anne is too busy with her book as there are none of her usual pithy remarks.


John July 16, 2014 at 5:47 pm

I must jump to Charles’ defence. They do exist (though probably not in North Wales)


Charles July 16, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I refer you to my learned friend John! But you are both right in that they are not Cliff Swallows and they may well have been Sand Martins. I couldn’t get a good enough look at them.Yes, all Anne’s pith is going into the book.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)