Monday, 14 April 2014

ABERDARON



The winter of 2013/2014 will be remembered by a lot of people for all the wrong reasons.  The British coast, particularly the western fringes, was subjected to a seemingly endless succession of violent storms, causing millions of pounds of damage and tragic loss of life.  During one of the storms, which took place on 12 February and was dubbed "wild Wednesday", Aberdaron made the national news for recording gusts of wind of 112 miles an hour.  I once spent a long weekend in Aberdaron, and while the village was delightful, it certainly felt like it was at the edge of nowhere, positioned as it is almost at the end of the Llyn Peninsula, and it is easy to see why it got such a battering given the direction of the winds that day.  Aberdaron is a fishing village with a cluster of whitewashed cottages and two excellent 'gwestys' (inns) facing each other, one of which has a delightful terrace with views of the beach and across the sea to Bardsey Island.  The Church of St Hywyn has a sea wall around it for protection, which is needed as coastal erosion has caused its location to edge closer to the shore.  Keen walkers can take the pilgrim path from Aberdaron to Mynydd Mawr, the southwestern tip of the peninsula, which reaches a height of 160m.  During the Second World War there was a lookout station here with hundreds of military personnel keeping watch for German ships and planes.  It was an appropriate spot for such an outfit, offering stunning views in all directions.

Two miles off the mainland, Bardsey Island is a National Nature Reserve, and can be visited on boat trips from Aberdaron.  After the Romans left Britain, the island was used as a refuge by early Christians, and it later became a pilgrimage site, leading to it being known as the "Isle of 20,000 Saints" for the number of pilgrims buried there.  Farmhouses on the island have been converted into holiday accommodation for those wanting to make the most of their visit.  There is a variety of birdlife on the island, but it is most closely associated with the Manx Shearwater, with a breeding colony of 10-16,000 birds.  Other species to watch out for are marine creatuers such as seals, harbour porpoises and dolphins, and there are rare flowering plants among the island's flora.  

Map of the area. 

File:Aberdaron from the coast path - geograph.org.uk - 1005093.jpg
Photo by Gordon Hatton, via Wikimedia Commons

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