Shaped like an outstretched arm with a finger pointing out into the Irish Sea, the Lleyn Peninsula is the most westerly point of Gwynedd, an undulating spur reaching out from the mountains of Snowdonia. The Lleyn is a narrow peninsula, averaging eight miles in width and some twenty five miles in length and separates Caernarfon and Cardigan Bays. It is bordered to the east by the A487 Caernarfon-Porthmadog road. 

With its small whitewashed farms and hedgerow enclosed fields, with grazing cows and sheep, the Lleyn Peninsula is full of Welsh character and charm and offers a relaxing destination for those wishing to get away from the hurly-burly of modern life. A good proportion of the Lleyn Peninsula has been designated An Area Of Outstanding Beauty. 

The long coastline of the Lleyn Peninsula offers something for everyone, picturesque beachside villages such as Llanbedrog, small sandy coves with dramatic cliff scenery, or the family resorts of Criccieth, Pwllheli and Abersoch with their larger beaches and tourist facilities. There are also quaint fishing villages such as Aberdaron, at the tip of the peninsula, the National Trust owned Porthdinllaen, near Morfa Nefyn and Borth-Y-Gest near Black Rock Sands.

Those interested in history will not be disappointed, for visitors to the Lleyn Peninsula have left their mark since prehistoric times. The remains of cromlechs, standing stones and hill forts, punctuate the peninsula. Examples include the impressive Tre’r Ceiri, atop the Yr Eifl Mountains near Trefor, and the dolmen at Clynnog Fawr. 

The spirit of the Celts and their legacy of ancient churches, holy wells, oratories and monasteries are another Lleyn attraction, stretching along an ancient pilgrimage route, the Pilgrims Trail, culminating in the Isle of 20000 Saints, Bardsey Island.  

The strategic importance of the Lleyn Peninsula was recognised, by the building, in the 13th century, of Criccieth Castle, a reminder of the great struggle for dominance between English and Welsh rulers and the site of several sieges. Edward 1 captured the castle in 1283. Not long after, to celebrate his conquering of Wales, Edward held a tournament near Nefyn, where knights from all over Western Europe attended.  

Nineteenth century entrepreneur, William Madocks MP, also saw the potential of the Lleyn Peninsula and its proximity to the trade routes with Ireland. He built the village of Tremadog and the port of Porthmadog to achieve his aims (almost bankrupting himself in the process); luckily the success of the slate industry reversed his fortunes. In 1836, a few years after Madocks death, the Festiniog Railway, a narrow gauge railway, was built to convey the slate of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port; and from there it was exported around the world. Railway fans can also journey on the Welsh Highland Railway, another narrow gauge railway and one of The Great Little Trains of Wales. 
Nowadays most visitors associate Porthmadog with its proximity to Portmeirion, the extraordinary Italianate village designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, instantly recognisable as the location for the 1960’s television classic The Prisoner.

Not far from Criccieth, in the village of Llanystumdwy, the statesman and British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, spent his childhood days. There is a small museum here displaying various honours and gifts he was given during his career. A visit can also be made to his riverside grave. Politics may be in the blood of Lleyn folk, for it was in Pwllheli that, Plaid Cymru, The Welsh National Party, was founded in 1925. The party’s original aims included the revival of the Welsh language, which has proven to be a very popular policy. Those wishing to discover more can visit the Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, in the picturesque village, Nant Gwrtheyrn.

Visitors seeking a more active lifestyle are spoilt for choice. Hill walking, golf, archery, bathing, fishing and sailing are all available on the Lleyn Peninsula, as well as other leisure pursuits. Surfing, an increasingly popular sport, is practised on several beaches, with Hells Mouth, having the accolade of being the best surfing beach in the country.  

Whatever your reasons for visiting the Lleyn Peninsula, relax, enjoy and absorb the special atmosphere of this very special corner of Gwynedd, an unspoilt secret place in Wales.

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