Having eventually arrived at our hotel on the rather remote Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, and met the other 8 members of our walking group, we were delighted with the varied menu choice and extremely generous portions at our first – and subsequent – dinners. We slept well, on very comfortable beds, thanks to Nerys and her staff at Woodlands Hall.
Then it was up and out on our first morning; mist, drizzle, and even mistier as we climbed upwards, crossing damp moorland – over which our leader, John, navigated our route most adeptly. We walked around Bwlch Mawr Hill, the sky cleared and the views were wonderful – with the wind blowing distant low cloud, making patterns across the hillside opposite.
During our walks, we also visited the ancient churches frequented by the original pilgrims en route to Bardsey Island. These churches were quite individual in their design and content; one contained 19th century dog tongs – for restraining/removing recalcitrant dogs, and another – at Pistyll – was decorated for Lammas, its floor strewn with lavender and herbs, while the font was enrobed in green moss and hydrangea blossom. Aromatic and very beautiful. Maigret was buried in its churchyard. Our driver, Peter, read us some poetry by RS Thomas, offering his contemporary thoughts on these churches, and how their congregations had diminished.
Further historic relics were discovered at the top of Bwlch Mawr Hill in the form of Iron/Bronze Age fort and housing remains. The vista from up here was wonderful, across hillsides and farmland. We also passed derelict lime burning kilns on the cliffs.
We walked amongst sheep and cattle grazing on the clifftops, and gazed out to sea, being particularly excited to see a pod of dolphins off the coast by the Welsh Language Centre. We saw many seals below us, together with shelduck, shag, cormorant, oystercatcher, whimbrel, yellowhammer, stonechat, buzzard, fulmar, chough, raven and hares. We were fortunate to have a fungi expert with us and he told us all about the various fungi we found. One of the beaches we walked across comprised a type of sand which ‘whistled’ when trod upon.
There was an abundance of coastal vistas, stretching to the coast of Ireland – as seen from Mynydd Mawr, the nearest we got to Bardsey Island due to inclement weather at the end of the week. Otherwise, we enjoyed perfect walking weather; sun, and sea breezes which cooled us during walks over undulating countryside. Some of us enjoyed a good local ale outside the Ty Coch Inn in the harbour, where the sea was very calm, and the light was fantastic over the bay; a perfect moment, and a most enjoyable holiday.