Aberdaron to Morfa Nefyn Coast Path Run
Coast Path Vital Stats
Aberdaron to Morfa Nefyn
- Distance: 24.51 miles
- Elevation Gain Today: 1062m
- Highest Elevation: 149m
- Time: 5:21:46
- Av. Pace: 13:08 mins/mile
- Av. Heart Rate: 124bpm
- Max Heart Rate: 168bpm
- Calories: 2493
Totals to Date
- Total Distance: 177.93miles
- Total Time: 34:01:04
- Total Elevation Gain: 5509m
- Total Calories: 17,292
- Distance to go: 704 miles
I’d postponed my Aberdaron to Morfa Nefyn Coast Path run on Saturday as the weather looked terrible. I was planning to do it on Monday instead but Morgan was at home ill, so I ended up doing it on Tuesday. Perfect as it turned out as the weather was set to be wall to wall sunshine with light breezes and not too hot at up to 17ºC. I did of course double check the bus times to make sure they ran on Tuesday’s – they did, so all was set.
En Route to Aberdaron
I left home at 5am and had a pleasant drive up to Pwllheli on quiet roads. A three-quarter moon was hanging brightly in the sky above the mountains as I drove towards Dolgellau. The mountains themselves were illuminated by the warm orange glow of the early morning sun and a queue of lenticular clouds streamed off the mountain tops like a chain of smoke signals. Other than these the sky was clear blue and it promised to be a gorgeous day. It was cold mind at 2ºC but as the sun rose and I approached the Lleyn Peninsula it started to warm rapidly and was up to 10ºC when I arrived in Pwllheli.
I had plenty of time to get into my running shoes, put on my heart rate monitor, apply some lube to prevent chaffing and slap on loads of sun-cream. It wasn’t going to be hot but the sun would be strong on the exposed cliff tops and I didn’t want to burn. I grabbed my backpack which had loads of water in it so felt a little heavier than usual and waited for the bus.
I was the only person on the bus as it trundled it’s way along the quiet country lanes of the Lleyn Peninsula to Aberdaron at the end of the route. I jumped off the bus, put on my rucksack and headed off to the Coast Path.
Wild Wales Coast Path
There was no chance of warm up today, it was straight into wild coast path with some steep climbs on uneven terrain. Behind me the rising sun was sparkling on the waters of Aberdaron Bay.
The path weaved it way along the cliffs, heading steeply down into little coves where fishing boats were hauled up on the shingle before climbing steeply back onto the cliff tops. The going was slow as I gingerly negotiated the steep uneven steps down the cliffs and then stomped back up the knee high steps on the other side. At times these were steps constructed from stones other time it was just footholds cut into the grassy hillsides. I wasn’t in a rush though as it wasn’t a race so on I went as the Coast Path wiggled its way around the end of the Lleyn Peninsula.
Actually, the ‘not a race’ thing isn’t entirely true as I had spotted a Strava segment called ‘Carreg Ddu Climb’ on a slightly more sustained steep climb about 2 miles into todays route. So, I put in a bit of an effort on this. Not flat out of course as I still had over 20 miles to go, but I did go a little harder than elsewhere on the coast path. It was a good little blowout up the hill. I didn’t get the course record but I did get a little trophy for 3rd fastest time overall.
I also got 9th overall on a longer segment called ‘Roller Coaster’ from Aberdaron – not that I knew this was a segment whilst running it. Roller Coaster was an apt name for a segment along this stretch of wild, untamed Coast Path.
Wildlife and Views
I stopped here and there to take some photos and all the while I was surrounded by wildlife.
Huge Great Black-backed Gulls soared along the coast next to me scanning the cliffs below. Crows squawked and tumbled and now and then the haunting call of lapwings could be heard. Smaller birds such as sparrows, chaffinches and blackbirds were all around and I saw Linnets, Redstarts, Bramblings, Reed Buntings and Stonechats. I was treated to the sight of a pair of Choughs again today too. At times it felt as though I was soaring along with the gulls as I ran through a riot of colour with flowers everywhere.
The bright golden buttercups clothed the grassy hillsides whilst paler primrose yellow covered the shaded banks. Bluebells were still in evidence everywhere and the bright pinks and purples of campion and orchids could be seen too. Elsewhere seas of pink thrift adorned the cliff tops.
The mean spiky, stingy, scratchy plants were out in force too. At times I’d have to squeeze through a ‘scratch of gorse’ other times I had to choose between brushing up against thigh high stinging nettles or thigh high thistles. I chose the later as at least any pain would be shorter-lived.
The sun shone brightly on the azure sea whilst the cliffs were still shrouded in shadows and so formed dark black chasms filled with deep-blue sea far below. The path wound its way around these cliff tops affording views out across to Bardsey Island. From the high points I was greeted with panoramic views of the end of the Lleyn Peninsula. Despite having covered miles already, my starting point of Aberdaron wasn’t far away as the crow flies.
The next part of the Coast Path was dominated by secluded beaches. Small tracts of sand with no-one on them enclosed by steep cliffs. This of course led to more ups and downs as the path continued to weave its way along the coast. Sometimes it would take me inland over boggy ground to negotiate a stream running down into one of the coves. Other times there would be small wooden bridges to cross along with endless gates to break up the running. Never was it straight and never was it flat as it weaved first one way then the other always keeping me on my toes as the terrain constantly changed. Sometimes I’d be leaping from rock to rock or jumping muddy patches, other times I’d be treading carefully through long grass trying to avoid holes, trips and slips. Occasionally there would be a clear patch of uneven dry track where I could pick up the pace a little.
I was making good progress and at around the 10 mile mark made it to Porth Oer, Whistling Sands. The Coast Path actually runs along the top of the cliffs behind the beach here but I made a detour onto the golden sands so that I could scuff my feet along them and make them ‘whistle’. The sound is due to the unique shape and composition of sand particles here. Although singing or whistling sand has been reported elsewhere, this is apparently one of the very best places in Europe to experience it. I could indeed hear the squeaking sound as I scuffed along which was a little odd, but not that impressive. It had to be done though.
As yet, despite the abundant wildlife I hadn’t seen a single human. That changed as I climbed back up onto the Coast path from Whistling Sands. First a couple of people walking along the path, then a dog walker sat admiring the view from a cliff top bench and then further along the coast small groups of ramblers that gave way as I ran past them. In places the path became more difficult here. The longer climbs and descents had been replaced with more rolling countryside but there were still some steep bits. Sometimes the path would become less distinct as it crossed patches of bog or made it’s way through small landslides. The ever present sea to my left gleamed in the midday sun and a gentle cooling breeze picked up. Boats could be seen sailing or powering along the rugged coastline and far on the horizon the outline of what must have been Holy Island off Anglesey could be seen.
The coastal scenery was of course stunning with the clear waters lapping against the rugged rocks and topped with bright green grass. What a place to spend the day as my route stretched out before me across the ever changing landscape.
Water and Ice Cream Stop
I felt as though I was running low on water so started looking out for somewhere to refill my hydration bladder. The Coast Path along here doesn’t pass through any settlements so there was no chance of finding a shop unless I made a detour inland to the village of Tudweiliog. I didn’t fancy doing that, but luckily I came across a tiny little caravan site with a tap in it. The site only had 8 static caravans in it and the tap had eight hose-pipes next to it with each one running to one of the caravans. I assumed it was drinking water and refilled my supplies from the tap before continuing on my way.
Not far after this I came across a larger caravan site above the beach of Porth Towyn. This one had a lovely little coffee shop too. It was tiny but seemed to serve some nice refreshments and had lots of people sat outside enjoying the sunshine. It was now midday and I’d been fancying an ice cream so I stopped for five minutes or so to eat one. The shop sold lots of other nice looking things too such as ’boutique’ hand packaged popcorns and tempting coffees but I resisted and continued on my way.
Towards Porth Dinllaen
On the path went ever winding its way along the tops of the rocky cliffs. At time it would be running along the rocky coastline just above sea level. At other times I’d be on a narrow track high above the sea as sheep scattered in front of me. Sometimes I’d be crossing shingly beaches other times bridges across watery gulleys as I made my way generally NE towards Porth Dinllaen.
Eventually the manicured patchwork of grass that was the Nefyn and District Golf Course could be seen in the distance with tiny figures wandering around it. I made my way ever closer to the fairways and greens, past strange coastal dwellings and eventually down across the river that ran out to the sea at Aber Geirch.
From here I climbed the steep sided bank to emerge out onto the fairway of the golf course where the Coast Path ran around the edge of the course. There were loads of people playing golf which provided me with the motivation I needed to keep running over the courses undulations. A sweaty middle-aged man in shorts and a rucksack running along the edge of the Coast Path on the Golf Course is one thing. A sweaty middle-aged man in shorts wandering along the edge of a golf course isn’t quite so acceptable, so I kept on running without pause.
The Coast path took me out to the small peninsula and then down onto the beach at Porth Dinllaen where people were enjoying lunch outside the pub and the beach was packed with families making the most of the sunshine.
The final Push
I continued on, jumping from rock to rock along the shoreline and then out onto the sweep of shingly sands. I slowed briefly to check the time and the bus times. It was 13:18 and the next bus from Nefyn left at 13:55. That gave me about 30 minutes to make what I estimated to be the final 3 miles, I’d have to pick the pace up if I wanted to get there in time. I did so and checked the times again as I hit the road towards the village of Morfa Nefyn. With about 2 miles to go, I still had just over 20 minutes so was making good time, but the Coast Path headed upwards here, up a large flight of steps out onto the cliff top where the terrain might slow me down. I made a decision – I was fairly certain the bus stopped at Morfa Nefyn too so decided to head into the village and get the bus from there. It was a safer option as I’d have about 15 minutes to wait by the time I’d got to the bus stop whereas if I continued on towards Nefyn I would be pushing it to get there in time and would likely miss the bus resulting in an hours wait.
I found the bus stop and sat in the sun waiting for it to arrive. I sent Anna a text message to let her know where I was and then boarded the bus back to Pwllheli where I stopped in Costa Coffee for a nice big coffee and a panini. I also made use of the fast mobile internet in Pwllheli. It’s just not fair, the 4G reception I get there gives me download speeds of over 40Mbps which is 20 times faster than the broadband we get at home, and the upload speeds of over 10Mbps are more than 50 times faster than our home broadband.
It was then into the car for the drive home which thanks to traffic was considerably slower than the early morning drive there. Apart from being buzzed by low-flying jets coming down the Tal-y-Llyn pass it was an uneventful drive.
I arrived home not long after Anna and Morgan got back from work / school and Anna and I headed over to the beach to check the surf. I could have done with a nice mellow surf session to end an excellent day on the Wales Coast Path, but there was no surf so I did some gardening instead and sorted out our containers. I potted out some new plants had arrived in the post while we’d been out.
Another perfect day on the Coast Path and the miles are gradually being ticked off.