Few areas have so majestic and varied a coastline as North Wales. In winter, great flocks of geese and wading birds descend on Traeth Lafan and the estuaries of Dwyryd, Mawddach and Dyfi. Look too for the colony of little egrets at Port Penrhyn at the eastern end of Afon Menai, where they nest side by side with grey herons.
Two little islands off Aberdaron – Ynysoedd Wylan – are home to comical puffins with harlequin beaks that carry wriggling sand-eels back to their burrow-reared young. Just beyond Aberdaron bay, with its enchanting little village, a great cape thrusts out into the Celtic Sea. This is the Land’s End of North Wales. Here at Uwchmynydd is Braich y Pwll, a high headland looking across two miles of fierce tide-race to Bardsey. Ffynnon Fair, just above high-water level in the cliffs below, is one of the most revered – and probably the least accessible – of all Britain’s holy wells. Bardsey itself was a crucial place in the early history of Christianity in Britain. Now it is home to one of our most important and interesting bird observatories. There are colonies of manx shearwaters on the island, their night-howlings an ethereal sound, and of seals too, which sing from the western rocks. It is one of the strongholds, too, of that rare and beautiful little crow the chough. Steeped in history and suffused with the light and atmosphere of the west, Pen Llŷn is a place to which you will return time and again.
Jim Perrin, writer
© Prif Lun / Main image: Porth Dinllaen © Ben Stammers Lluniau bach / Small images: Porth Dinllaen © Geraint Thomas; Trwyn Cilan / Cilan Head © Simon Panton
To get a real feel for the Gwynedd sea and coast, one of the best places to visit is Uwchmynydd. Standing on the headland at the very tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, you are in no doubt about the power of the sea, the resilience of the cliffs, and the value of the coastal heaths for key birds such as the chough and stonechat. What is hard to grasp is the richness of the awe-inspiring wildlife that lives beneath the waves.
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