Circumnavigation of the Llyn Peninsula by Catriona Hare
Circumnavigation of the Llyn Peninsula, with a bonus trip to Bardsey Island, an awful lot of really bad puns, and our own talking guidebook.
There were five young folk from LCC
Who went to the Llyn for the sea
Kayaking was fun
Despite the odd pun
And tough, wrong route out to Bardsey
I doubt that the Limerick will get a of approval. 😉
Saturday 29th May 2021 Trefor to Porth Oer
We all arrived at Trefor on the north coast of the Llyn by 9:30, organised our kit and while four of us sorted out the complicated car shuttles (which Keith had designed) Keith drank coffee and relaxed with the boats. After lunch, car shuttles are hard work, we set off. We now had the nearly spring tide with us for the next six hours. This made for a relatively easy paddle, with sightings of seals and guillemots (or razor bills maybe) to reach Porth Oer 30km away. Not far from Trefor, Jimi played chicken with a blow hole….. I think the blow hole may have won, but it was a hot day, and he soon dried off.
Near to Trefor, distinctive volcanoes are visible, and further west many of the cliffs are formed from boulder clay, and there were quite a few landslips. Something to think about for campsite selection.
We landed on the north side of Porth Oer, the last campsite before Bardsey sound and found a lovely little sheltered campsite just off the beach (our talking book was proving useful). It was low tide at this point, which meant a long carry up the beach. We managed this safely with 4 people carrying each boat. Although a bit busy early evening, the beach soon quietened down, and we had a stunning sunset to ourselves, surrounded by primroses and thrift.
Sunday 30th May 2021 Porth Oer to Aberdaron Bay
Next day we had a late start so we could make the most of the tide again. Our relaxed morning meant we had time to watch a couple of gannets fishing, and Phil could carry out the first of his urban foraging trips. This was frowned on a bit (it’s not a proper something if you buy anything on a kayak trip). However, I understand breakfast at the Porth Oer café is very good.
We set off about 11, the cliffs getting more rugged as we initially headed south against the tide. I had been convinced that the next stage of the journey would be easier if we went via Bardsey Island rather than through Bardsey sound. It probably was (would have been) if we had got the tides right and reached northwest tip of the peninsula at the start of slack water to make the crossing easier. As you can see from the trip trace there was a bit of a hiccup, we set off an hour early, and the current took us much further west than planned. It was also a really hard paddle against the tide with some occasional sections of confused water. It was a relief when the tide changed, and we headed south, and the island started to get closer. We finally neared Bardsey, close to Porth Solfach, and then headed south to round the tip of the island. We had the tide with us briefly. On the other side there were big swells, a following sea and a back eddy, followed by a head wind as we headed towards the jetty in the harbour, and longed for land. We finally had lunch (the best cheese and pickle sandwiches I have had for a long time) and a well-earned rest at about 2 o’clock. On the crossing out we travelled at 4km/hr sideways I think and when we had the tide with us, we hit 10km/hr.
We couldn’t relax for too long as you can’t camp on Bardsey, so we still needed to get back to the mainland. We paddle to the northeast tip of Bardsey against some quite strong back eddies in places. We then had a bit of a discussion about what line to take, but it was decided that we would paddle at 30 degrees. This worked, and we ferry glided across the sound towards the east of Pen y cil avoiding a strong back eddy at the east end of Bardsey Sound. We paddled into another offshore head wind to the quiet eastern end of Aberdaron Bay where two more challenges awaited us.
The first, which part of the beach looked like the best place to land on and avoid a long boat carry. I learnt from this that you can’t really pick landing places from the sea. The second the dumping surf on the steep beach. Phil landed effortlessly, I am not sure what happened to Keith and Ian, I was too busy picking myself out the water to notice, but I like to think they got at least a little wet. I was a little concerned that the beach would not be good enough to camp on, and I might need to mutiny at the prospect of paddling round the next headland. Ian was awake enough to point out that if we walked about 5m from the camping site we had “spotted” from the sea, we would have a perfectly comfortable night. My relief set in. I discovered later that there was no chance of a paddle extension, 26Km in relatively challenging conditions meant I wasn’t the only really tired paddler.
Phil headed off for some more urban foraging, this time to the pub. I wondered up and down the beach a bit, in the hope that with different exercise my legs would forgive me and work tomorrow. Another lovely sunset, a well manged fire, and an early night. Our sleep was disturbed by people night fishing on the beach with bright lights and the increasingly loud sound of the surf.
Monday 31st May 2021 Aberdaron Bay to Borth Fawr
We got up early next the day as apparently there was no tide to bother us on the last leg of our trip, and we were able to launch from a relatively flat part of the beach with less surf. The first leg of the journey took us past some impressive cliffs and gave us some varied paddling conditions on route to a small, sheltered inlet on the west side of Hells Mouth for “tenses”. Luckily, I had quite a lot of “tenses”.
We then paddled the 5k across Hells Mouth in gentle side on swell. Plenty of time to daydream before reaching the headland on the other side. From here on in the cliffs were spectacular, 100m high slate cliff with twisted bedding planes and numerous nesting birds.
The wind tide and swell made for relatively chaotic seas around the headland before Porth Ceirad. Here we hit lots of people for the first time on the trip and numerous motorboats and jet skis. We had hoped to stop here for lunch but there was more dumping surf, so we had a snack on the water, before heading round the last headland where the sea confusion was added to by motorboat wakes. One friendly skipper waved at us as he sped close by while we were near the base of the cliffs. We didn’t wave back!
We paddle the last noisy 0.5km into the south end of Borth Fawr, landing at high water. Only 23km today but all against the tide. We had now covered according to out talking book the best parts of the Llyn coast.
A decision was made to carry the boats full up a small steep narrow flight of steps to the car park. Keith, Phil, Ian and Jim, thank you for accepting that I would struggle to carry fully loaded boats with just one other person. It meant we got into the car park quicker. Ian, Phil and Jim went up the hill to collect the cars for the return journey to Trefor and this time I got to sit on the beach with Keith.
Thank you to everyone for the good company, the nearly perfect planning and keeping an eye out for me when the conditions got rough. I had a thoroughly enjoyable if pretty exhausting weekend.