Pwllheli to Aberdaron Coast Path Run

Coast Path Vital Stats

Pwllheli to Aberdaron

  • Distance: 30.52 miles
  • Elevation Gain Today: 965m
  • Highest Elevation: 176m
  • Time: 6:57:16
  • Av. Pace: 13:40 mins/mile
  • Av. Heart Rate: 111bpm
  • Max Heart Rate: 151bpm
  • Calories: 2534

Totals to Date

  • Total Distance: 153.42miles
  • Total Time: 28:39:18
  • Total Elevation Gain: 4447m
  • Total Calories: 14799
  • Distance to go: 728 miles

What an epic day out in Wales. 30 miles of the Wales Coast Path, sunshine, sands, cows and cliffs, dunes, butterflies and birds, bluebells, gorse, beaches, islands, piglets and bus trips and even a pet heron, this run had it all. It had a lot of walking for a run too!

Early Start

I made an early start after a bad nights sleep. I was a bit bunged up, had a headache and a sore throat so did briefly think about not bothering, but only briefly. I packed my bags, had some breakfast and left the house just after 5am for the drive to Pwllheli which is where I ended my run along the Coast Path last weekend. The drive there was fine on nice quiet roads and only took about 90 minutes. It was a cloudy, cool start to the day but promised to be nicer later. I soon found somewhere to park right where I’d finished my walk last week, got changed and ready to go, slapped on some sun cream and put on a jacket as it was still quite cold at this time of day and then I was on my way just after 7am.

Pwllhelli to Abersoch

I made my way through the deserted streets of Pwllheli, along the causeway beside the inner harbour and then out onto the seafront promenade. There was no one around, not even any dog walkers as I made my way along what is the Lleyn Coastal Path as well as the Wales Coast Path. Out of town the path goes through the Pwllheli Golf Course on sandy trails. My feet were feeling a little sore for some reason but I was making good progress, and the discomfort seemed to move upwards throughout the day. I wasn’t quite 100% but the first couple of miles were taken easy and ticked off in under 9 mins each.

Beyond the Golf Course the path followed the ridge along the top of the beach. It was a twisty, sandy path with various rocks to keep an eye out for so it was never going to be fast, but it kept the mind focused and on I plodded. Rabbits hopped out of the way in front of me as I startled them from their early morning grazing. I did stop to take a photo of the beach behind me as the sun started to make an appearance.

Starting Out

Starting Out

Around the little point at Carreg y Defaid and the looming presence of ‘The Headland’ Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd started to dominate the scene as I made my way along the top of the cliffs above Llanbedrog beach and then down a steep slope onto the beach itself. Past the brightly coloured beach huts I ran and then up into the little village before doubling back on myself where the path led through a large private estate.

After passing the large house, the Coast Path followed some rock paved paths through the woodlands of the private estate making it way up the steep sides of Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd. Out of the woods at the top I had a nice view back down to the beach huts on Llanbedrog beach.

Looking down on Llanbedrog

Looking down on Llanbedrog

The path continued up onto The Headland though. Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd is apparently the 8848th highest peak in the British Isles and the 899th tallest in Wales. It stands at 133 metres and is composed of microgranite. In fact, as I’m supposed to be a geologist I’ll tell you that it’s actually a porphyritic microgranite of Ordovician age. Thankfully the microgranite provides good traction underfoot as the path here was very rocky and had me jumping from rock to rock taking care with every foot placement. There was little chance of taking in the scenery from on top of the gorse and heather covered headland as taking ones eyes of the path for even a split second resulted in immediate tripping – yes, I speak from experience. By now my sore feet had developed first into sore achilles and then sore shins, this was soon enhanced by another sore shin as I took my eyes of the path and tripped over landing on a rock. Not to worry, my calves were soon burning from the climbing too.

As I rounded the top of the headland views out towards Abersoch greeted me so I stopped for some photos.

On top of Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd

On top of Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd

Coast Path

Coast Path

St Tudwals

St Tudwals

The rocky path was becoming easier underfoot and the terrain was heading down again. I ran past some disused granite quarries and then around the far side of the headland before grinding to a walk on a steep rocky descent to the road below. The road took me out onto the sands of the beach and on towards Abersoch. There were finally other people up and about, walking their dogs along the sandy beach and a few people out jogging too. I caught them up and over took them as I rounded the small headland into the beach and then on towards the river. I think I missed the path here slightly as this part of the beach would have been inaccessible at High Tide but I figured I’d soon pick it up once in town. That I did and I even ran around the silly little loop around the headland as I followed the Coast Path properly.

Coast Path through Abersoch

Coast Path through Abersoch

The other people out jogging obviously didn’t do this as I overtook them again as I ran through the streets of Abersoch. Things were beginning to come alive in the town as shopkeepers were preparing for the day ahead and streets were being cleaned.

Peninsula

Out of Abersoch, the Coast Path goes through Abersoch Golf Course and then past the slipways at Machroes before making its way out onto the wild clifftops of the Lleyn Peninsula with the islands of St Tudwal’s offshore.

St Tudwal's East

St Tudwal’s East

The sun was out now and the gorse was surrounding me with its sweet smell. In places the cliff tops were covered in bluebells so that I was running through sea of blue as I made my way around the clifftops.

The Bay of St Tudwals Road

The Bay of St Tudwals Road

It was quiet out here without a soul to be seen. Just me, the seagulls, the occasional gannet flying by and butterflies everywhere. The terrain was quite tough with lots of ups and downs and my glutes were stiffening up now. The views kept my mind off the pain though and the constant need to watch my step helped as well.

Rounding the headland at Trwyn yr Wylfa presented me with the stunning sweep of sand at Porth Ceiriad – what a beach this is! With no real roads to it and stuck out on the end of the Lleyn Peninsula where it is pounded by the sea it’s a real place of wild beauty. Not today though, bathed in sunshine and deserted it looked tranquil and the turquoise waters looked inviting too – a picture postcard scene.

Porth Ceiriad

Porth Ceiriad

Porth Ceiriad

Porth Ceiriad

The coast path heads down towards the cliffs above the beach before taking a steep climb back up over the high cliffs on the far side. I was still running and ran all the way up here to the steps at the top and then off along the clifftops and out to the end of the peninsula. I was getting tired now though and I was beginning to walk here and there when the paths were steep. The wild, windswept clifftops went on and on with the sea far below. Around the headland I went and then along the high cliffs towards the surf beach of Hells Mouth.

The path descended to the beach where today it was calm with barely a wave breaking. I was running again on the descent and along the dunes behind the beach. Partway along the beach the path heads inland and along a road for a little while before crossing a number of fields alongside a small stream. The sun was blazing by now and things were looking lovely as I ran past the sheep and lambs in the fields.

Things took a little turn in one of the fields though. I could see the cows in this field from quite a way off and they were all being a little frisky. There were hundreds of them, all running around, mounting each other, bucking and kicking. The coast path went right through the field so I started to follow it. I wasn’t in the field long though before the cows started to take too much of an interest in me. Three or Four of them came right up to me, pushing me with their noses and then running off, then more and more started to follow me. I shouted at them a couple of times and they ran off, but then the whole herd charged at me. I know they are ‘only cows’ but when there’s a herd of 50-60 of them running full pelt at you they are quite intimidating – so much so that I decided enough was enough and jumped over the fence. I shouted at them and tried to scare them off so that I could get back into the field and continue on my way but they were having none of it. They just ran up and down the fence line snorting, kicking and jumping all the while watching me. I didn’t have much choice but to make a detour and try to find away around.

I did find my way around, through a different field and then back along a track that took me along the top of the cows field. They spotted me again and charged up to the field boundary but thankfully there were two fences and a large grassy mound between me and them as I made my way along the field boundary. I was heading to a gate at the far end where I hoped I could head down the far side of their field and rejoin the path. It was then that I noticed that partway along the fences and mound that stood between me and the cows was a gate, and it was open… I was actually in a continuation of their field again and this time with no way out. I decided to make a run for it heading to the gate at the far end. This meant running past the open gate. I was sprinting along the field with the cows charging along easily keeping pace with me on the far side of the fences. Luckily cows are pretty stupid, even ‘crazy killer cows’ like these and they all just ran in a straight line past the open gate rather than turning off to come into the bit of field I was in. I made it to the gate with the fences and mound still between the cows and me and went through it into safety. I’d now lost the path though and spent a fair bit of time wandering through numerous fields of sheep trying to find it. Eventually I spotted some posts with white paint atop them and picked up the Coast Path as it made it’s way to a small road in towards Rhiw.

On towards Aberdaron

The Coast Path soon left the road behind and made it’s way through a peaceful bluebell floored woodland.

Bluebell Wood

Bluebell Wood

It then climbed up steep slopes and out onto the headland of Mynydd Penarfynydd where views back towards Hells Mouth dominated.

Once again the going was tough with steep climbs, narrow tricky paths and plenty of trip hazards. I was quite tired by now and walking rather than running almost the entire way.

Lleyn Peninsula

Lleyn Peninsula

Pano from Mynydd Penarfynydd

Pano from Mynydd Penarfynydd

The path differs from that on the map here as well as it takes you right out and around the headland past the trig point and on towards the point beyond before doubling back along the other side of the headland and dropping down into a little farmyard that was full of piglets.

The path then follows a little stream back to the coast and runs along the cliffs all the way along the coast. I had a nice view of one of the iconic birds of the Welsh Cliffs here too, a Chough. I’m sure I’ve seen them before but this was my first close up view where I couldn’t mistake it for anything else with its bright red beak and legs. I only wish I managed to get a photo of it, but I didn’t. I was still quite chuffed (choughed?) to see one close up though as it flew across in from of me then perched on a fence post just a few feet away before once again flying off.

The OS map I have (from 2015) actually shows the path heading inland here and along the road a little. It’s much nicer following right along the coast of course but it was quite hard going as I walked past cove after cove, each with their own little waterfalls and islands.

Porth Ysgo and Maen Gwenonwy

Porth Ysgo and Maen Gwenonwy

Coastal Selfie

Coastal Selfie

Finally I made it to the headland to the east of Aberdaron Bay from where I could see the long sandy beach and in the distance the village of Aberdaron and my destination for the day.

Coast Path to Aberdaron

Coast Path to Aberdaron

I still had a few miles to go though, first along the tops of the cliffs above Aberdaron bay with their caves and natural arches and then down across some fields – this time with some much friendlier cows. The path then took me through a caravan site and out onto the sands of Aberdaron.

Cliff-Top Path

Cliff-Top Path

Aberdaron Bay

Aberdaron Bay

By now, even with the end in sight I couldn’t be bothered to run so I walked into the village which was alive with people enjoying the summery weather and checked the bus times. It was about 2pm but the next bus wasn’t due until 3:50pm so I bought some lunch from the shop and sat in the village watching the world go by. The most interesting thing was a pet heron on top of the Spar. At first I thought it was a model, but then it started moving and seemed to keep everyone entertained. At times it would fly down onto the road and stand there in the way a little but most of the time it just stood, completely still on top of the roof of the Spar.

The bus eventually arrived and I jumped on it to make my way back to Pwllheli where I bought a coffee for the drive home and made my way back through Wales to arrive home at 6:30pm after an epic day on the Wales Coast Path. I’d ticked off another 30 miles of the Coast Path and now have to start making plans for the next section. Maybe something a little shorter next time, but that will all depend on where I can get buses from.


3 Responses

  1. Mum says:

    Sounds lovely… Well except for the crazy killer cows x

  1. Monday, May 16th, 2016

    […] was only taking it easy too as my legs were tired after my 30 mile run/walk along the coast path the day before. I even stopped off at Picnic Island for a flapjack and to take a few photos of the […]

  2. Friday, May 20th, 2016

    […] train line ends in Pwllheli. Last weekend I ventured beyond this with a 30 mile stretch along the coast path from Pwllheli to Aberdaron. I parked in Pwllheli, made my way along the coast path to Aberdaron and then had a two hour wait […]

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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