An exploration of Mynydd Cilan, Lleyn's southern-most headland by means of quiet lanes, bridleways and farmland footpaths. A visit is

also made to one of the finest surfing venues in Wales - Porth Ceiriad.

Distance: 5¾ miles

Start: Begin the walk in Sarn Bach near Abersoch. As you approach the village from Abersoch, there is a telephone box and a layby close to the 'Sarn Bach' sign. Park either here or in a larger layby about 200 metres back along the road towards Abersoch.

Grid ref: 304 268 (Landranger 123, Explorer 253).

The walk

1. From the telephone box walk along ahead (away from Abersoch) along the road for 100 metres or so and take the signed footpath on the left which passes through the yard of 'Sarn Farm' (keep to the right, do not enter site). The right of way follows the obvious track beyond the farm to a junction with a surfaced lane. Continue straight ahead along the lane.

At a T junction turn left, then immediately right into another lane. This lane narrows to become a footpath before you reach another junction. Take the lane straight ahead and shortly you will be walking along the edge of the bay with a fine view along Borth Fawr

to Abersoch.

The large bay between here and the headland at Llanbedrog is known as Saint Tudwal's Road and was famous as one of the largest safe anchorages in this part of Wales. It was so extensive 'that it would contain the whole Royal Navy of England' claimed one notable

chart maker in 1748. Ironically, just two miles away as the crow flies and beyond the shelter of Mynydd Cilan, is one of the most feared and notorious shipping black spots in the country - Porth Neigwl, better known as 'Hell's Mouth'. The closeness of these two bays

inevitably led to disaster and it is not surprising that a number of ships lost in Hell's Mouth had been trying to reach the safety of St. Tudwal's Road and failed to identify the correct bay.

2. The lane becomes unsurfaced and eventually turns right away from the bay. Follow the stony track which rises up towards old mine working waste higher up. In about 300 metres look for the signed Wales Coast Path on the left. Through a kissing gate, the fenced path heads back towards the coast.

The ruins you can see on the left here are the remains of an engine house built in the 18th century to house a steam engine. The engine was used to pump water from the nearby Penrhyn Du lead mine, which operated until the 1890s and employed a large local workforce. It is similar to the buildings found at Cornish mines and may well have been built by Cornish miners who came because mining skills were in short supply locally. The nearby cottages called 'Cornish Row' also hint at a Cornish link.

The proximity of the sea would have been a mixed blessing here. It helped mine owners to bring heavy machinery to the area, when overland transport was poorly developed, and the lead could be loaded onto ships and transported away with ease, but flooding was a

constant problem. These engine houses were essential to the success of the mines.

There are known to have been several lead mines in this area, but Penrhyn Du is thought to have been the oldest established as early as c.1638. A small foot gate at the end of the fenced path leads onto the open headland and the path swings right along the coast.

There are spectacular views across Cardigan Bay to the hills and mountains of Snowdonia and ahead to Sait Tudwal's Island.

The coast path is straightforward now and keeps to the upper edge of the open coastal slope outside the fenced fields on the right.

Continue to cross a footbridge above Pistyll Cim (waterfall) before a steeper climb to the headland at Trwyn yr Wylfa where you will be able to enjoy a dramatic view of the bay at Porth Ceiriad.

This cove has a fearsome reputation and although safe bathing can be enjoyed in calm weather, great care is needed at times. The beach is quite steep and like nearby Hell's Mouth, experiences some of the best surfing conditions in North Wales.

In 1855 the ship 'Franchise' ran aground here after losing her position in thick fog en-route to Liverpool. By the time the crew heard the breakers it was too late to turn the ship around. No lives were lost but the ship was smashed to pieces on the beach.

3. From Trwyn yr Wylfa the path swings right, high above the bay. After a kissing gate the path makes a gradual descent to the beach access point by the emergency phone. The beach access is on the left.

To continue, keep ahead across a small field to a kissing gate. The next section of the path has recently been created and is contained between fences as it passes close to large cliffs on the left. Stay on the fenced path as it climbs high above the bay. This is easy and straightforward to follow and there are wide views of the bay.

The fenced section ends at a kissing gate and the path continues over the open slopes with fenced farmland on the right.

After a steeper descent, go through a small foot gate at a path T junction. The coast path continues ahead over a footbridge here. Ignore this, turning sharp right instead. The path heads up through the bracken to go through a kissing gate and on up the rising path to another kissing gate beside a large field gate to enter fields. Head more or less directly through the field to go through a kissing gate in the far

corner, then bear right along the field edge to another kissing gate and field gate in the corner. In the following field bear diagonally-right to the corner by a farm. Go through the kissing gate and head left along the access track to a lane.

Turn right along the lane and follow it back to the starting point at Sarn Bach. Approximately 1¼/2 km.

The Official Guide to the Lleyn Peninsula section of the Wales Coast Path: Bangor - Porthmadog is available (ISBN 978-908632-24-1). Published by Northern Eye Books. This walk has been taken from: 'Top 10 Walks on the Wales Coast Path: Lleyn Peninsula' by Carl Rogers, published by Northern Eye Books (ISBN 978-1-908632-12-8). Copies can be ordered from bookshops or purchased online at: Information on the Wales Coast Path Official Guides from: