Today we walked our final 11 miles from Tudweiliog to Aberdaron, the end of the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way. Although we didn’t walk the entire path, I’m feeling an incredible sense of accomplishment at achieving our goal. My parents and I walked every step between Rowen and Aberdaron, and we did it together — in the sense of walking in a group, but also in supporting each other and making it possible for each of us to complete this journey.
Today’s walk began by rejoining the coastal path, and the morning included a stop in a small bay to watch a seal in the water. (Don’t try to look for it in the picture; I didn’t get it on camera.)
The day’s walk included two beaches, and we caught the first one (Traeth Penllech) at a low enough tide to walk its length. It was a gorgeous place, where we stopped for a snack, my mom waded into the water, and I decided to climb a group of nearby rocks.
As we rejoined the path at the opposite end of the beach, I admired this adorable notice (very common on gates leading to and from areas where sheep are grazing, but very rarely decorated like this):
Around lunchtime we started looking for a place to picnic. We had seen benches all along the path, but as we walked we weren’t seeing anything. Finally we chose a small grassy area that extended toward the water, and we nibbled on our provisions while watching the birds play below us. After lunch we continued on, and just around the corner … saw a perfect bench. Ah well!
By early afternoon we arrived at the second beach, Porthor. It’s called Whistling Sands in English because it has singing sand — sand that makes noise as you walk on it. I shuffled along, making the sand shift and squeak under my feet.
The pilgrim’s way now offers an option to continue on the coast path all or part of the way around to Aberdaron, but that adds a good 5 miles to the walk. Instead, we chose the older direct route across the peninsula from Porthor to Aberdaron.
Soon after leaving the beach, as we walked up the road, a man asked if we were walking to Aberdaron. (How did he know?!) The sun was out in full force today and it was hot, and when we confirmed our destination he let us know that he had water in his car (parked a little further up ahead) if we needed it. I am so touched by the kindness of strangers. But our water bottles were still quite full so we thanked him and continued on through our network of tracks and fields.
As we crested a hill, we could see the top of Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) poking up over the end of the peninsula and Aberdaron nearer to us on the water. The end was in sight!
A final field that the guide book described as being possibly occupied by bullocks is now fully planted, so we skirted around the edge to reach a very wind-blown tree and a path down to a riverside walk into the village of Aberdaron. (I will now admit that I am filled with doubt every time I try to call a place a town or a village, and I had to look up Aberdaron to check. On our first full walking day, my mom referred to Rowen as a town and the chapel caretaker kindly corrected her: “It’s a village, dear.” I hear his voice every time I start to call a place a town, although likewise I don’t want to accidentally downgrade a town to a village!)
Before collapsing in our hotel, we walked the last few steps to St Hywyn’s Church and declared our pilgrim walk complete.
It’s hard to believe we’re done. It’s also hard to believe that soon we’ll be back at home, recovered and not feeling the aching feet and satisfying end-of-day exhaustion that have become our constant companions. But first, tomorrow, we’ll be taking a boat out to Bardsey Island as a capstone to our walk.