Pen Llŷn is a natural playground for runners, cycling enthusiasts or keen walkers. Its variety of terrain offers something for differing abilities and requirements, whether you want to really push yourself by truly taking on the wild landscapes, or perhaps pace yourself a little more gently but still enjoy a slice of adrenaline-fueled action.
Here in this spectacular corner of north west Wales you can do both.
I was born just down the road in Llandwrog and from my house I can turn left to head towards Snowdonia or turn right to Pen Llŷn. More often than not, I turn right. When you have somewhere with so much beauty at your fingertips, you find yourself getting pulled back time and time again.
If I have a race coming up, I always go to Uwchmynydd. This is one of my favourite places in the world and a great place for training. Park up at the small coastal town of Aberdaron to the east of Uwchmynydd, or at one of the nearby National Trust car parks, and head to the coastal path. You can walk, run or just sit here and take it all in.
Uwchmynydd sits at the south western tip of Pen Llŷn, with the Wales Coast Path wrapping around its many twists and turns. I often join this stretch of the coastal path and find it hard to get off as I’m always in awe of its untouched beauty. On a clear day you can see Ireland, Anglesey and the Isle of Man. And right in front of you is Bardsey Island, somewhere I’d often go as a child on holiday.
I’ve seen incredible wildlife here, from choughs, to killer whales and dolphins. When I think of the heart of Pen Llŷn, this is the place that I think of. It’s spectacular.
To mix up my training, I’ll jump on the bike and take on Pen Llŷn’s mixed terrain. One place that’s ideal for that is Nant Gwrtheyrn, located near the village of Llithfaen on the northern coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. This place is the carrot in front of me, pulling me towards the coast. Cycle here and you’ll head down a valley on the approach to the coastline, with an incredible view in front of you. It’s moody, wild and constantly changing, which always keeps me coming back for more.
If you’re up for a real challenge, tackle the hills back up the valley on your bike. This is not for the faint hearted but give it a go if you feel up to it. There are several areas of wide road where you can stop on the way up to catch your breath and get another glimpse of the views. But before you do, make sure you get a coffee and a Welsh cake in Nant Gwrtheyrn’s café, Caffi Meinir.
For a real taste of the culture, why not try to speak some Welsh while you're there - it's the heartland of the language and the perfect place to learn. Start with ‘Bore da’ (Good morning) and end with a ‘Diolch’ (Thank you) and above all else don't be afraid to try. You'll definitely be rewarded with a smile. There’s no better place to try either, as Nant Gwrtheyrn is home to a very well-regarded Welsh language learning centre.
And no trip to Pen Llŷn should be without a visit to Porthdinllaen, a secluded fishing village in a hidden bay on the northern coast of the Llŷn Peninsula. You can’t reach it by car, so it’s either a quick ten minute run over the headland, or a twenty minute stroll from the car park. Whatever your choice, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most special views in Wales.
Porthdinllaen is a great place to pit stop during a day of exploring, with one of Pen Llŷn’s best pubs, Tafarn Tŷ Coch, located right on the beach. It’s no surprise this place is always full, with great food, local ales and superb views to accompany them. Try a pint of ‘Cwrw Llŷn’ which is brewed just down the road in Nefyn and you can even visit the Cwrw Llŷn brewery.
Of course, you don’t have to be a cross country distance runner or sports enthusiast like me to appreciate Pen Llŷn. This little slice of heaven on earth is for everyone, but there is something really exceptional about enjoying it on foot, clambering up the coastal paths and hills, or from the saddle of a bike.
It’s a magical place bursting with our history, our heritage, our culture. It’s woven into every path, every bay, every mountain and totally unspoiled.