Top choice in Llŷn Peninsula

The rugged, ethereally beautiful extremity of the Llŷn Peninsula is where medieval pilgrims set off to reach the holy island of Bardsey; one glimpse of their destination, rising out of the gunmetal-grey sea beyond the surf-pounded rocks, hints at the drama of their final voyage. A path leads down past the remains of St Mary's Abbey to a neolithic standing stone known as Maen Melyn, suggesting that this was a holy place well before the Celts or their saints arrived.

A natural freshwater spring called St Mary's Well (Ffynnon Fair) issues from a cleft in the rock below the high-tide mark. It was held to be holy, and pilgrims would sip the water before setting out. There are sheer drops to the sea and high surf, so don't attempt to drink from the spring yourself.

Inland are strip fields that preserve many of the patterns of ancient land use. Keep an eye out for choughs, a cheeky red-legged relative of the crow, and the rare spotted rock rose – this is the only place on the British mainland where this yellow bloom is found.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Llŷn Peninsula attractions

1. St Hywyn's Church


Stoically positioned above a pebbly beach, St Hywyn's Church has a left half dating from 1100 and a right half that was added 400 years later to…

2. Porth Oer

3.64 MILES

This lovely, remote scoop of beach, 2.5 miles north of Aberdaron, has oddly shaped sand that squeaks when you walk on it, giving it its English name,…

3. Criccieth Castle

22.97 MILES

Ruined Criccieth Castle, perched on the seafront's most prominent headland, offers views stretching along the peninsula's southern coast and across…

4. Dinas Dinlle

26.62 MILES

Dolphins and porpoises can sometimes be spotted from this long, sandy, rock-fringed Blue Flag beach, 6 miles southwest of Caernarfon. The flatness of the…

5. Borth-y-Gest

26.7 MILES

The best views over the estuary are from Porthmadog's Terrace Rd, which becomes Garth Rd above the harbour. At its end a path heads down to Borth-y-Gest,…

6. Harlech Castle

26.76 MILES

Edward I finished this intimidating yet aesthetically pleasing castle in 1289, the southernmost of his 'iron ring' of fortresses designed to keep the…

7. Parc Glynllifon

26.77 MILES

Strewn with rare plants, follies, sculptures and fountains, these historic gardens once formed part of the estate of the Lords Newborough. While the grand…

8. Portmeirion Village

28.13 MILES

Set on its own tranquil peninsula reaching into the estuary, this fantastical collection of colourful buildings with a heavy Italian influence was…