#81 – The quiet hills of the Llŷn Peninsula

Gyrn Goch (left) and Gyrn Ddu, seen from Trefor

I don’t usually do requests in this blog, mainly for the reason that I don’t get many requests!  In post #76 I wrote about the processes I go through writing walking routes for websites.  I had a bit of fun adding some archive photos, and inadvertently started a mini ‘Spot the location’ competition!  Fellow outdoor blogger ‘Mountain Coward’ asked for a bit more info on one of the pics, and how could I refuse – So, here’s a Welsh walk that Chris and I did in October 2010.

Sunset over Llŷn with Bwlch Mawr (left), Gyrn Ddu and Gyrn Goch (centre) and Yr Eifl (right)

The three peaks of Yr Eifl

The Llŷn Peninsula is one of the least exploited parts of North Wales, and the hills are quiet and deserted.  The main attraction here is the three peaks that make up Yr Eifl (#37) – driving from Caernarvon to Llŷn these hills dominate the view, so much so that it’s easy to miss the group of hills above the villages of Clynnog Fawr, Gyrn Goch and Trefor.

Gyrn Goch and Gyrn Ddu seen from Yr Eifl

St Beuno’s church, Clynnog Fawr

We set out walking from the village of Clynnog Fawr with its attractive church, and began a long uphill stretch.  These are small hills compared with Snowdonia just down the road, but the start point was near the sea at just 30 metres altitude and our first peak of Bwlch Mawr was 509 metres.  Due to the lie of the land, the hill is not visible from the village, and our views initially were mostly of Gyrn Ddu and Gyrn Goch, the next hills on the agenda.

First view of Gyrn Ddu (left) and Gyrn Goch on the way to our first peak of Bwlch Mawr

The final ascent to Bwlch Mawr

The summit of Bwlch Mawr, with the distant hills of Snowdonia peeping up through a cloud inversion.

From Bwlch Mawr we had to lose 100 metres of our hard-won height gain to head down to the Llŷn Coastal Path.  The Path follows a plateau surrounded by higher hills that at times looked similar to Dartmoor, or the Pennines or lots of other places that aren’t North Wales!

Looking back to Bwlch Mawr on the descent

The Llŷn Coastal Path heading towards Gyrn Ddu

Some fairly level walking brought us to the final ascent of Gyrn Ddu, our highest peak of the day at 522 metres.  From a distance, the summit looks like a stony lump, but close up it became a rocky ridge which, although not difficult enough to be a graded scramble route, was one of the most interesting features of the day.

Gyrn Ddu – at 522 metres our highest peak of the day

Close up view of Gyrn Ddu

The summit rocks of Gyrn Ddu

The summit of Gyrn Ddu was uncharacteristically rocky for these grassy hills.  The view towards Yr Eifl was partly obscured by haze, but our route to Gyrn Goch was clear enough – another height loss before that last height gain of the day.

Yr Eifl from Gyrn Ddu, partly obscured by haze

Gyrn Goch, last peak of the day – more down, more up!

Looking across to our first peak, Bwlch Mawr

From Gyrn Goch it was downhill all the way, with more views back towards Bwlch Mawr before our final descent to Clynnog Fawr.  These might not be the biggest hills we have walked, nor did they have any great technical difficulty, but we didn’t see a soul all day – how many other upland areas of Britain could you say the same about?

The final descent to the village of Clynnog Fawr

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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10 Responses to #81 – The quiet hills of the Llŷn Peninsula

  1. LensScaper says:

    That brings back a lot of happy memories from many years ago. Snowdonia has always been my favourite mountain area in the UK – there’s something very special about being on a summit and seeing the sea and the vast expanses of golden sand that you get around the fringes of the Lleyn peninsula. I remember very clearly walking over the Rivals (Yr Eifl) with my father. We holidayed in Criccieth, Nefyn, Abersoch as well as in the heart of Snowdonia. I also remember exploring the deserted village of Porth y Nant round about 1970 I think. Some beautiful images, Paul. Thanks for the memories!


    • Hi Andy, and thanks for the wonderful comments!

      The mountains (Wales or just about anywhere else) are unchanging, but the results of human activity are constantly ebbing and flowing. The deserted village of Porth y Nant that you visited in 1970 was a thriving working community up until the Second World War – it now lives again as a Welsh language centre, providing residential courses for those learning the language.

      I enjoyed visiting your blog – I’ll be back! Looking forward to seeing that puppy growing bigger 🙂


  2. smackedpentax says:

    looks absolutely lovely Paul…(ah I wish I was there instead of a busy IT office in Leeds – looking out of the window and dreaming)…superb photos make this, what a lovely area and a great post – as always!


    • Thanks for the kind words, SP 🙂

      One of my jobs today (warm and sunny in Wales) is to continue unpacking removal boxes in the new house 😦

      Just looking at ’em isn’t going to do it!


  3. Thanks for that Paul! I didn’t realise they were accessible from the coastal path. They look really nice hills and, next time I can get over to Snowdonia, it would be nice to do something completely different… That stony ridge on the middle one reminds me of how stony Yr Eifel was – especially the middle peak!


  4. The “Sunset over Llŷn with Bwlch Mawr (left), Gyrn Ddu and Gyrn Goch (centre) and Yr Eifl (right)” photo is absolutely stunning. I love that view! Highly underrated hills those. I’ve only done the Yr Eifl ones but really want to do the Gyrn Ddu and Gyrn Goch ones. Maybe one weekend I wil go out that way and base camp at the Gyrn Goch campsite then go wild camp up there.


    • Hi Jamie, and thanks for the comment.

      A wild camp on either Gyrn Ddu or Gyrn Goch sounds like a brilliant idea!! My idea of an ideal campsite is one with a mountain backdrop and a coastline with lighthouses! Don’t know why, but I love a night view with lighthouses and you should see several from up there.

      If you prefer to camp on summits, Gyrn Ddu is quite rocky, so Gyrn Goch would probably be better. Bwlch Mawr has camping/bivi potential as well.

      You will probably have to carry water up with you – my memory is that water sources were low down.

      Like your website! Excellent stuff mate!


  5. beatingthebounds says:

    We love the Llyn Peninsula Paul and will be there for our annual weeks camping fairly soon. Can’t wait.


  6. Hope the weather treats you kindly, but whatever the weather it’s a lovely place..


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