|"Light Beyond Darkness" Ynys Enlli - You may buy this print HERE|
It wasn't like today, hail battering on the gallery window and stories of people being rescued off snow blocked Scottish mountains, it was Summer last weekend, blue skies, VERY blue skies, brilliant sunshine, just a puff of breeze and warmth, solid, tangible enveloping warmth, April the first and it was no Joke! As we headed off towards Aberdaron and the Llyn Peninsula we were in high spirits, unless I was until Carol took the Gin off me. The sunshine was radiating through the windscreen and I needed my shades to reduce the glare. Across Anglesey there was surprisingly a huge bank of cloud, and enormous weather front, but it was hard to believe in this brilliance. Early Summer bugs were flying this weekend but were being forced to land on a step black runway and there were queues of cars at the obligatory road works beyond Caernarfon for the Easter break. It really felt like a holiday, a holiday we both desperately need.
We wound our way down the Llyn lanes with only the lightest of traffic now and the impressive Garn Fadryn came into view like the Devil's Tower in a Spielberg film, towering above this huge coastal plain all around. Tiny fields and steep walls comprise this landscape, reminiscent of my Cornish childhood countryside. We arrived in the tiny hamlet of Aberdaron, nestled between huge cliffs on either side before backing up the slopes of Mynydd Anaelog. This sleepy looking little settlement has views right out over the Irish Sea, facing South West and the full power of both the sea and the sunshine. Steeped in history from Medieval Pilgrims to a long lineage of fisher-folk and of course immortalised by the poetic once Vicar R S Thomas in rich words of natural beauty, Aberdaron is utterly peaceful, well mostly when drink isn't occasionally speaking from one of the tavern doors.
|Y Gegin Fawr, Aberdaron - Medieval Café :-)|
We sat in the warm courtyard of the 13th Century Y Gegin Fawr "Where the Saints could claim a meal for crossing the sound to Bardsey Island" and although I said I was feeling very spiritual and had a long walk to do, still had to pay for my Ham & Cheese Toastie :-( (12.00 breakfast) There is always a temptation isn't there, when sitting in the warmth of a beautiful Spring sunshine, drinking tea and nibbling delights, to become too comfortable, to abandon the bigger plan, the way of the righteous and the reward through suffering, and to just order another cuppa and some Lemon Drizzle cake and be done with it, but we could hear the calling, and we left a piece of silver with the good ladies and went on our journey.
The layers of T-shirt, fleece and windproof Rab we both started off with were soon ripped off as we slogged up the steep cliff-side to start the path proper, which would take us according to the cut out magazine guide, 10 miles and 4 hours - ha, they have NEVER written a guide with a photographer in mind obviously ! The sea was almost flat, but crystal clear, and reflecting the most vibrant blues over emerald green depths, it was like being abroad but a) I could order my grub in Welsh here and b) It felt more magical and more ancient and deeply connected with our our own history, it was near as damn it perfect and beautiful in the extreme. We dropped down into the tiny cove of Porth Meudwy, where the tiny ferry boats have transported pilgrims past and present to the magical, spiritual island of Ynys Enlli. You can't see it from here where you face due South, looking back towards the bigger bay of Aberdaron itself. Seagulls cried overhead like a Cornish fishing village and a dog barked once at the ferryman bringing his boat up the shore. A middle aged man in a knitted patterned jersey sat next to the stacks of lobsters pots tending his wolf like hound, but there were no voices, no communication, a natural but embracing silence, one of sound but not noise.
|"Water Colour Apparition" Ynys Enlli - You may buy this print HERE|
The warmth was cooking deep now, as we exited the cove via a very steep set of steps on the far side and we were soon out on open cliff top and easier ground. Carol who hadn't been down here for many years was shocked when I told her the tiny island to or left were not Ynys Enlli, but when we topped the next lush cliff top, grass rich amongst white rock, she was presented with just the most breathtaking view of the real Ynys Enlli, like a beautiful curvaceous pear sliced in half and laid sideways on the open ocean, dark against the intense shimmering sunlight on the sea. There is no question why Pilgrims sought out this island for their spiritual destination, and a stepping stone to even bigger things beyond. We sat here and ate our lunch whilst Choughs swooped, dived and did aerial acrobatics over the cliff edge and a huge black Raven headed out to Bardsey. A pair of Kestrels, Keith & Katy were having fun with each other in the field behind, very much in love, and almost certainly equated to Kevin our Cornish Kestrel.
|"Water Water Everywhere ?" Ynys Enlli - You may buy this print HERE|
This was unbelievably April, it simply wasn't, it was June already. If it were not for the instant heart-attack and third leg body parts dropping off in the aquarium like waters below us, I'd have been diving in there, it was as if temptation was deliberately being placed before us, but of we got tempted we'd suffer for it, it was teasingly cruel to us both. We found the closest thing to that Holy Grail though in dropping down into almost every cove to check out the water, the rocks and the boulders, sea bird nests adorning high multicolored cliff walls, and Stonechats already flitting over cliff tops, readying themselves for a summer of chatting song. We scrambled down to the low tide mark and found the often invisible St Mary's Well, at first like a rock pool until you realise it's being fed by a multitude of tiny streams 'within' the rock itself, sometimes seen dribbling out of cracks but forming the most constant stream of pure water out of the pool. It was the sound you know, the silent sea didn't hide the trickling gurgling sounds all round, it was as if the rock was talking to us, it had it's voice now the South Westerly waves had lost theirs.
|"Well We Found It" - You may buy this print HERE|
I knew the next stretch was going to be a challenge and as Carol is not a huge fan of steep drops, fearful heights and exposed faces, the highly precipitous sheep track across the next cliff side had my Dad dreaming nightmares about it since he was a very young man. It has featured in many of his drawings and paintings, a metaphor for falling if you don't clearly follow the right path with surety and clear vision. I could feel Carol's hand grip mine tightly as we started alongside the void to the rocks and sea maybe 80ft below. This cliff face isn't 45º it's steeper! After a short distance you have to walk in single file and I could see Carol slowing down and tensing up. We were almost half way! "Does it get any easier after this" she whispered quietly, eyes like an animal on the vet's table. I couldn't lie, just beyond the path becomes scree for a short distance and even this warm sunshine didn't make it seem easier for my beautiful woman. I just said "Tell you what, let's just turn back" and I wouldn't have any more questions. She held my rucksack as I led her back to the safety of the open shoulder of cliff. Sometimes, there is a limit to how much one should confront one's fears for a higher awareness. We ascended higher anyway towards the deserted coastguard station but superb 360º view from the summit of Uwchmynydd and an iridescence on the sea that was more than spiritual enough for us that afternoon.
|"There's a Place for Coastguards" - You may buy this print HERE|
Technically, we were only just after half way but had already exceeded the noted duration for the walk! :-) We still had several steep cliffs and coves to contend, but the light was so serene in the now evening haze, the evening was so warm and we were so happy, that we decided to go beyond Mynydd Anaelog and walk back down lanes on the far side towards our original starting point back in the now more lively hamlet of Aberdaron. We had hardly seen anyone the whole route, which in my hermit like outdoor mind is near perfection. Our companions were always the birds, the rabbits, the sheep, the new born lambs, the perched buzzard, the rooks, and even a farmyard full of tasty looking chickens ! :-)
|"Farming Folded" - You may buy this print HERE|
The cottages seemed empty yet there were cars outside and smoke climbing vertically from the chimneys. We couldn't hear any cars and we had only caught sound of two identical jets making for America an hour earlier. Evening sunlight back-lit Carol as we walked hand in hand along the final rural lane, bordered by pungent rich gorse and bountiful Hawthorn. Celandines reflected the yellowest sunshine you could imagine and small blue hedgerows flowers exaggerated the warmth even further. As we reached the hill top and Aberdaron Church came into view below us, the sunshine dipped behind Mynydd Anaelog behind us and the bay was blanketed in shadow.
|"Cosy in the Shadows" - You may buy this print HERE|
Lights were coming on in the village already and there was the sound of chatting in the hamlet below, merriment and laughing and children's' voices. We entered the Ty Newydd Hotel and sat in the window, from where we could watch the sea in the bay and the evening sky share a same blue cloak, and we imagined what the crew of the ketch anchored off shore were doing, drinking gin and planning voyages. We made do with sumptuous Sirloin steak and peppercorn sauce, for me at least washed down with a cool pint of lager and the day was finished and wonderfully as it had started. The Llyn, let's keep it that way :-) !
|"Colourful Activities" - You may buy this print HERE|
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