I walked, or more like scrambled up the ancient earthen ramparts of Dinas Dinlle, a deserted Iron Age fort left now to the unrelenting mercies of the sea, which has eroded part of it away. You do not find any great mysteries in archaeological sites, so the visitor who only sees the surface will be disappointed. Such sites are places to sit and think, reliving the past as it was seen by the ancients. The fort guarded the entry to the Menai Straits from unwelcome visitors, often Irish pirates who were enthusiastic participants in the internecine strife that besmirched the British Isles. Later, as pottery finds reveal, the Romans used the site as a signal station. But the Romans went and the Irish came, the southern Irish kingdom of Leinster capturing the fertile land, hence its enduring name Lleyn, after Leinster. But the Welsh regrouped and conquered the small Irish settlements that had sprung up in the post-Roman period and the land reverted to being part of Wales.
The north coast of the Lleyn contains a variety of walks. They begin after Dinas Dinlle, and walkers can stroll along a level landscape until they come to the rockier ends of the land, where going becomes tougher. I chose the beach with its soft sand and warm south westerly breeze gusting in my face. Ahead were the blue hazed hills of the western part of the Lleyn that provide an enchanting aspect to the walk. Then as the fast-flowing tide began to flow I retraced my route down quiet lanes along the coast.
Wales is a country with a continuous coastal path from Chester in the North to Chepstow in the South, and eighty of those miles are the Lleyn Peninsula, and that's not taking into account the Lleyn's interior, with its network of lanes and footpaths. The North side looks over the Irish Sea and the South overlooks Cardigan Bay, the wide expanse of shallow water that stretches down towards distant Pembrokeshire. At the tip you espy Ynys Enlli, Bardsey, the island of ten thousand saints, the destination of centuries of mediaeval pilgrims at the end of a route that led through Wales, a sacred monastic isle to be reached only by crossing some difficult water. Now managed by the Bardsey Island Trust it has a resident warden who protects the large seabird colonies that thrive on its lonely shores, but the monks are no more.
But the Western tip of the peninsula contains Hell's Mouth, a bay that has proved the graveyard of many a sailing ship. In the days before steam ships sailing down the turbulent Irish Sea dreaded being wind driven into the Hell's mouth by the powerful South Westerly gales that drive up across Ireland, for there was no safe harbour there and no way out. When standing on the cliffs above this bay, reflect on the ships, sailors and passengers who died there. It is a sobering thought to realize that such beautiful places are sometimes so dangerous.