Nant Mine

Wales Coast Path: Rhiw to Aberdaron

August 24, 2014 · 18 comments

Date walked: May 15th 2014

Distance: about 6 miles

OS map required: Explorer 253- lleyn Peninsula West

I had three guides that I referred to: The Lleyn Peninsula Coastal Path by John Cantrell ,published by Cicerone (2010) and Llyn Peninsula – The Official Guide- by Carl Rogers and Tony Bowerman, published by Northern Eye Books (2014), and A guide to the whole path published by St David’s Press: The Wales Coast Path- a practical Guide for walkers (2014).

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


This was my last of 5 days walking on the south coast of the Lleyn. 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’d left myself a short walk, allowing me to make a leisurely start and then driving to Rhiw with the plan to get the one bus service out of Aberdaron to Rhiw that afternoon (the 17B).

The path leaves the road through Rhiw and descends towards the sea, passing one or two modest houses and several ruined cottages.

Ruined cottage near Rhiw, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

If this was in Monmouthshire it would have permission to “convert” into a house

It was a very misty morning, giving these little homes a greater sense of being hidden away in this remote corner of the Lleyn.

Pen-yr-Ogof near Rhiw, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Pen-yr-Ogof: this tiny little place is clearly still in use

The wide track is a good few hundred yards from the coast, so no sounds of the sea penetrated the murk.

The Wales Coast path  crosses Mynydd y Griag, photographed by Charles Hawes

A misty moisty morning

After passing a sewage works, a sign announced the National Trust property of Penarfynydd.

National Trust sign for Penarfynydd, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Question: what are these signs for?

I supposed that it was their cattle that were grazing in the field I passed as I followed a track towards the sea.

Young cattle of Penarfynydd Farm, photographed from near the wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

See, several are already interested in me

My presence seemed to get the herd very excited and they raced down the hill towards me calling out loudly (as sheep do sometimes from my experience; obviously associating man at this stage in their lives with something nice).

Cattle in Penarfynydd Farm, phootgraphed from near The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

Maybe I just have a natural attractiveness to cattle?

It seems that I should have taken a turn up the hill at the farm to join a small road but I didn’t see the path and I could see the direction that the coast was taking and it wasn’t hard making my way over the grazed grass of Mynydd Penarfynydd (a favoured stomping ground of the poet RS Thomas.)


Mynydd Penafynydd photographed by Charles Hawes

And besides, I wasn’t doing any harm

My gain for going off-route was a view of Porth Llawenan….

Porth Llawenan, Lleyn peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Ok so its not the most remarkable beach

…. and a chance to explore  the remains of the Nant mine, which produced the largest amount of manganese in the country in the early C20th.

Ruined building of  Nant mine on the Llen peninsula, photographed by Charles Hawes

Those are nicely made walls

I followed the line of the tramway down the hillside, spotting a rail still in situ.

Rail of tram line of the Nant mine, nant -y Gadwen, photographed by Charles Hawes

The ore was exported by sea, the gap in the cliffs indicating the route down to the shore where a jetty would have been located.

Ruined buildings of Nant mine, Nant-y-Gadwen, photographed by Charles Hawes

The OS map actually shows a track in the cliff face.

A pile of what I took to be spoil on the cliff top looked fresh somehow, which seems unlikely, making me wonder if the material is naturally poisonous  to vegetation.

Spoil heap of nany mine nant-y-Gadwen, wales, photographed by Charles Hawes

I could be way off in this speculation

I found a Wales Coast Path finger-post at the bottom of the little valley called Nant y Gadwen which was encouraging.

Wales Coast Path marker post at Nant-y-Gadwen, photographed by Charles Hawes

I didn’t pass too many of these today

But almost immediately what I was seeing on the ground, with several new bridges did not seem to accord with the route shown on my map (or indeed my reading of the latest map on the official website). This new route kept closer to the cliff edge which certainly seemed preferable.

Bridge on The wales Coast Path abovePorth Ysgo, photographed by Charles Hawes

Thanks to Gwyedd County Council for this lovely new bridge

Ahead, even in the mist was a good view to Maen Gwenonwy which becomes an island at high tide.

view to Maen Gwenonwy photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Misty view of Maen Gwenonwy

I continued on this brand new path until opposite Maen Gwenonwy.

Maen Gwenonwy, photographed from The Wales Coast path by Charles Hawes

Still a bit misty

I must have missed the sign sending me back towards  the road by negligence or intention on my part because I found myself passing through several bluebell-filled fields (and climbing over fences) with no sign of a path at all.

Fields  naer Penrhyn Mawr photographed by Charles Hawes

Very nice field but Not The Wales Coast path

My map showed no right of way but then I came across a locked up gate that had clearly once been for a path …

Locked footpath gate near Penrhyn Mawr, photographed by Charles Hawes

This is much closer to the coast and it is not obvious why the official route does not take this route.

…..and then another, which was open and I decided that right of way or not I would follow its course.

Abandoned or closed footpath on the Lleyn peninsula near Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s not as steep as it looks and the view is great

This more cliff-top route seemed much more preferable  than the official alternative of heading away from the coast and onto a road and was  more satisfying to my inner delinquent; I was clearly following a path, even if it has been disestablished.

Abandoned or closed footpath on the Lleyn peninsula near Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

The route for the path is clear

I let the sheep lead the way.

Abandoned or closed footpath on the Lleyn peninsula near Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

If its good enough for sheep its good enough for me

I rounded Trwyn y Penrhyn, giving me my first view of the long beach at Aberdaron.

View to Aberdaron fom a  closed footpath on the Lleyn peninsula photographed by Charles Hawes

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself at this point

I was  still finding bridges and gates……….

Brisdge in abandoned or closed footpath on the Lleyn peninsula near Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

Nothing wrong with this bridge

….until  they stopped and I found myself in a field with no exit in the direction I needed to go in. Ahead  and by the coast was a sparsely populated caravan and camping site. I did what you would expect me to do and climbed over a few fences until I reached a gully that was heading down to the beach.  This was no footpath either but a couple from the caravan site thought it was doable so I followed behind, making encouraging noises.

Climbing down to the beach at Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

She told me that she was gazelle like when she was young

And then there I was, tra la,  on another mile-long deserted beach.

Aberdaron beach photographed by Charles Hawes

It’s surprising that there are not more big rocks on beaches when you think about it.

The new sea wall was a bit brash (it’ll weather) and the hillside drainage system novel.

Drainage channels in the hillside above Aberdarn beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

I’ve never seen this chevron style drainage before

Out to sea, a view of Yns Gwylan fawr and Yns Gwylan -bach.

View to Ynys Gwylan-fawr and Ynys Gwllan -bach photographed from Aberdarn beach by Charles Hawes

The big one is on the left

The final approach to the village was quite special, the graveyard of the quiet church of St Hywyn offering its occupants, a great sea view.

Graveyard of St Hywyn's church in Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

Aberdaron is a charming little place, with a couple of hotel/pubs, a few cafes, one or two general  shops and a chippy. I stayed in The Ship about 6 years ago when I was photographing nearby Plas -yn Rhiw for Discovering Welsh Gardens but I had forgotten just how small it is.

Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

I hope to have had tea here by the time you read this

Since I was there the National Trust have built a new visitor centre, but I decided to save that for my next visit. After a brief mooch around I returned to the beach, getting an excellent and far too cheap baguette from the beach side cafe (they have wi-fi and the pretty woman serving told me that its range is such that passing boats have been known to anchor off shore to pick up emails).

The mist had suddenly got quite thick. On the beach a young mum wandered about trying to comfort her wailing babe in arms.

Aberdaron Beach, photographed by Charles Hawes

One family were introducing their young son to the mysteries of sand.


Dad: “I’m not angry but do you think you buried your sister here?” Mum: “I think I can hear something “

A chap on the next bench was enjoying a doze.


It all felt, very….. relaxed. I had a quick look around the church, its interior light and simple and homely.

Interior of St Hyweyn church, Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

The poet RS Thomas was the vicar here between 1967 and 1978

And then after another look in the graveyard it was time to wait for the bus.

Graveyard of St Hywyn church, Aberdaron, photographed by Charles Hawes

The bus was reassuringly prompt and 10 minutes later deposited me back in Rhiw. I offered an apology to the lady whose house I had parked outside but she wasn’t bothered and we had a friendly little chat. The view over Hells Mouth that yesterday was so clear was today under a wonderful blanket of cloud.

 Low cloud covering Hells Mouth, photographed from The Wales Coast Path by Charles Hawes

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian August 24, 2014 at 7:23 am

Another most enjoyable Sunday morning read, Charles. Lovely photographs in spite of (or because of?) the mist.


Charles August 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

Hi Ian. You’ve been in my thoughts. Nice to think of you there reading it with your coffee.Yes, nothing like a bit of mist for atmosphere.


Neil August 24, 2014 at 7:55 am

6 miles, lots of lovely misty views, and such a splendid final view…. Looks like just my sort of walk…..


Charles August 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

And danger and adventure too! You’d have loved it.


John August 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

We, by sheep, are led astray! There is something about the atmospheric early morning mist that makes it a joy to get up in the atmospheric early morning. Certainly adds atmosphere to your photos. I do, though, detect a certain degree of slippage (possibly due to moist ground) in your standards compared to last week! Two typos. But as you pay Neil, I’ll let him identify them (or Anne might finth them).


Anne Wareham August 24, 2014 at 9:05 am

“Anne might finth them” – I did, I tweeted one of the best..

Inner delinquent – not so ‘inner’ I’d say. You should rename this ‘The Charles Hawes Revised Delinquent Wales Coast Path’. Xxx


John August 24, 2014 at 9:17 am

OK, make that three typos )I dont check captions as I’m not paid enough). And there are two clues in this comment.


Charles August 25, 2014 at 10:24 am

I reckon there might just be one left .


Iain Robinson August 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

Another very enjoyable report. That misty view over Hell’s mouth is marvellous. I like your photos of the Nant mine…I haven’t seen that rail yet! I am not sure about the ore being poisonous to vegetation, but is sure feels incredibly heavy.


Charles August 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

Thanks Ian. I thought you’d like the mine. And in a couple of walks time there’s some wonderful quarries.


Paul Steer August 24, 2014 at 9:39 pm

I like the way they have arranged the pews in the church. This walk is an instance where you have gone astray and were rewarded. If I had been there with you I would have been inwardly driven to follow the correct path which would have made you miserable and me less guilt ridden – but still miserable !


Charles August 25, 2014 at 10:23 am

Thanks. I thought it a more friendly arrangement. I usually some something rewarding about going astray. I reckon you’d have come with me quite happily!


julia August 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

So much more enjoyable without celebs. The big rock is a treat and the land drains are ‘herringbone’. Keep on walking.


Charles August 25, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Damm. I was thinking of a regular spot inviting celebs to walk with me (only joking). Herringbone. yes, thats the word. I’ve kept on walking.


rob grover August 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

The mist is great ( has someone said that before me?), the way it varies, creating a stillness, through the walk and returns for the beach at Aberdaron.
Also the church view: is this ‘in the round’ seating a response to a declining congregation, I wonder, or were there traditional rows behind you?
Good scabious


Charles August 25, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Thanks Rob. Yes, mist has been surprisingly uncommon on the walk so far but I love a good misty day. It was fab at the beach, the way it kept lifting and returning. The seating is, if I remember rightly, intended for silent prayer. But yes, there was a more traditional layout elsewhere.


David Marsden August 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

What a fine day’s walk, Charles. Only six miles, mist and the uncertainty of where is the bleeding path? Marvellous.


Charles August 28, 2014 at 10:56 am

I’ve almost given up worrying about getting off piste now and just go with the flow. My GPS will always get me back to civilisation.


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