Eccentric poets, exotic flora and wild seas: a car-free break on the Llŷn peninsula


Phoebe Taplin

There’s much to delight in this part of north-east Wales, including dazzling scenery you’ll see from the slow train on the way

Llywelyn the Great built the huge gatehouse of Criccieth Castle on the coast of north-west Wales in the 13th century. Owain Glyndŵr burned it down in 1404 when it was in the hands of the English. The stones of one ruined tower are still scorched orange. Today, the castle hill smells of wild thyme and cut grass. I can see across the bay to cloud-capped Carreg yr Eryr with more mountains beyond it and westwards over multicoloured Marine Terrace towards the wild Llŷn peninsula.

With a cone from Cadwaladers ice-cream shop, I stroll down to the beach. While swimming I have views of both castle and distant mountains. The beach has stripes of sand and shingle; a passing dog walker skims a flat stone so it skips five times and I applaud from the waves. She tells me some huge jellyfish are washed up further down the beach – “like alien beings”. Dressed again, I go and have a look. They remind me of the comic poem by Robert Graves (there’s a copy on the railway station wall) about the “things that came out / From the sea caves of Criccieth yonder”.

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