What the locals really think of the Llyn Peninsula

PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 July 2015

View from Criccieth Castle

View from Criccieth Castle

Archant

It's an area that has attracted a creative crowd but you don't have to be an artist or writer to appreciate the beautiful Llŷn Peninsula, as Janet Reeder discovers

What is it about the Llŷn Peninsula that is so inspiring? ‘Everything’ could be the answer. Even the most prosaic of us might fall in love with its magnificent landscape, from the sandy beaches of the south to the northern coastline, an easy rival to the craggy shores of Poldark’s Cornwall.

The poet RS Thomas loved the area and so too does adventurer Bear Grylls who owns an island off the peninsula.

It is a place of great wild, natural beauty and of a people protective of its heritage - historically it’s remoteness helped preserve the Welsh language and culture and this is celebrated in all kinds of creative ways by its writers and artists.

The rural and mining industries of bygone days have now been superseded by tourism and the steep cliffs and those rugged rocks of the northern coast and beautiful sandy beaches in the south are a great attraction.

Even James Bond the actor Daniel Craig visits - well maybe this has something to do with the fact his parents have a home here. Lucky are the ladies who get the thrill of seeing him emerging 007-style from the sea in his blue swim trunks!

Of course, the area’s holiday hotspot status means it can wow with everything from a wealth of archaeological sites telling an unbroken history that began in prehistoric times, to the 84 mile section of Wales Coast Path and let’s not forget the much loved resorts of Criccieth, Pwllheli and Abersoch where many who grew up in Cheshire took family holidays and forged happy memories which they return to recapture each year.

There are many who have been inspired by the Llŷn Peninsula so we asked some of them share their stories and experiences of one of Wales’ most fascinating areas.

 

Marilyn Taylor at her Raindrops on Roses, High Street, CricciethMarilyn Taylor at her Raindrops on Roses, High Street, Criccieth

Marilyn Taylor

Who?

Marilyn owns the charming clothing and gift emporium, Raindrops and Roses on High Street Criccieth.

I’ve been in the shop over three years. We sell Fair Trade clothing from labels such as Nomads as well as nice gifts and I live just around the corner so it’s just a short walk to work.

Why Criccieth?

It’s is an idyllic place to be. I came here as a child and in turn brought my own children here. We love it. It’s in our hearts. We have our wonderful coastline which is so unspoilt and you can do the most amazing coastal walks, or bike rides. We were walking on the beach at Porthcawl the other day and saw about six other people and you certainly wouldn’t experience that in places like Cornwall in the summer.

Insider tip...

People tend to overlook Criccieth and yet it is a wonderful place. Quite a lot goes on here - it’s seasonal as you can imagine but there are some very nice upmarket B&Bs along Marine Terrace, Menai Cottages are based here and there are some very good places to eat. Dylan has just opened and it’s very popular while Tir a Mar is a lovely French restaurant that’s perfect for those who want a quiet ambience and excellent food.

Raindrops on Roses, 48B High Street, Criccieth, Gwynedd LL52 0EY 07814 536 141

Director, Gwyn Jones, at The Cyfarwyddwr yr Oriel Gallery at LlanbedrogDirector, Gwyn Jones, at The Cyfarwyddwr yr Oriel Gallery at Llanbedrog

 

Gwyn Jones

Who?

Gwyn is Gallery Director at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw in Pwllheli

I’ve been here 10 years and the building has gone from a position of being nearly closing town to being debt free now thanks to improved services and the introduction of a woodland in 2008 with its woodland walk and woodland theatre. In 2004 we had £20,000 visitors, last year we had 140,000.

Why Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw ?

We showcase Welsh artists such as Karl Davies, as well as artists from the North West, such as Anne Aspinall, Liz Ashworth and Kath Bowen but it is the new woodland coastal pathway and the theatre that has helped increase visitor numbers. Now instead of being just an art gallery it is more of an arts centre.

Insider tip

James Bond the actor Daniel Craig has been into the gallery a couple of times as his parents have a place on the Llŷn Peninsula and areas like Abersoch attract celebrities, football stars, Coronation Street stars. There’s the new restaurant Dylan’s which seems to be very popular but the best place to eat around here is Plas Bodegroes. Chris (Chown - one of the owners) is one of the trustees here. This is definitely a tourist destination but my own personal recommendation would be the Cteceiri Fortifications, which is one of the best Iron Age fortifications in Europe.
Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli Gwynedd, Gogledd Cymru, LL53 7TT 01758 740763 www.oriel.org.uk

Artist Rob Piercy at his gallery in Snowden Street, PorthmadogArtist Rob Piercy at his gallery in Snowden Street, Porthmadog

 

Rob Piercy

Who?

Rob is an artist, who also runs a gallery in the picturesque seaside town of Porthmadog.

Why Porthmadog?

I am from Porthmadog initially and went to teacher training college - a long, long time ago and became an art teacher at the secondary school here. It was while I was teaching I started exhibiting professionally. Eventually I stopped teaching and decided to look at premises in the town. Porthmadog is a busy place which made it ideal. I found an old Warehouse in town which was mess. I paid about £7,500 for it in 1985 but it needed a hell of a lot of work, so I gave myself a five year plan and in 1990 I finished teaching.  Another main reason I am here is that I love climbing. I have great love of the mountains here. it’s the drama that is involved and that’s what I love to paint. What happens in the mountains in bad weather means the light is constantly changing. it is my inspiration and always has been.

Insider tip

The southern end of the peninsular is pretty dramatic. it’s very much like an island as it is mostly surrounded by water and the peninsular has a particular island climate which is why it is so attractive to holidaymakers.

Rob Piercy Gallery, Snowdon Street, Porthmadog LL49 9BT 01766 513 833 www.robpiercy.com

Ceri Shore, Venue Manager, in the library at Ty Newydd Writing CentreCeri Shore, Venue Manager, in the library at Ty Newydd Writing Centre

 

Ceri Shore

Ceri manages the National Centre for Writing in Wales Tŷ Newydd which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary

Why?

Tŷ Newydd ran its first course 25 years ago and since then has run many others but we also do a lot of outreach work here and are very involved in promoting the area and its culture. We have courses here in the Welsh language but we also have tutors coming from all over the world too. It’s a private place in a very beautiful and secluded spot. This was the last home of the politician Lloyd George so it is also historically important for the local area. A lot of work has been done on the building over the last 25 years which visitors will be able to see when he host our open day on August 23.

Insider tip

You can visit here. Pop by, step into the library and look at the stunning view over the coast or people can come along and walk in the gardens. Clough Ellis, the man responsible for Portemeiron was responsible for a lot of the redevelopment and the gardens were a project of his, so are well worth visiting.

Tŷ Newydd, Llanystumdwy Criccieth, Gwynedd, LL52 0LW 01766 522 811

 

Chris and Gunna Chown at the renowned Plas Bodegroes hotel and restaurantChris and Gunna Chown at the renowned Plas Bodegroes hotel and restaurant

Chris Chown

Chris and wife Gunna are the owners of the celebrated Plas Bodegroes restaurant and hotel.

Why?

We opened here in August ‘86, 29 years this August in fact. I was brought up in area but I was working in London as an accountant when I decided to change career and train as a chef. The idea was to come back to North Wales so I just looked around for a property, saw this building and was smitten. I was very lucky in that I bought a very beautiful house and lucky to have a very beautiful wife, who also happened to be great as a front of house manager. If you get the balance of food and wine, ambience and service right then people are going to come back and they do. I must say we get a lot of the Abersoch crowd and the people of Cheshire here and are lucky too to have a good loyal local following.

Insider tip

I’m on the board of Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw which I think it is very beautiful and of course we need somewhere for our guests to go if it’s raining. It’s not just a gallery but you can take art lessons, dance lessons and take lunch there too and the Wales Coastal path goes through the grounds of the gallery. You can still find peace and quiet in the area, even during high season. It’s a beautiful peninsular and you can experience a fabulous quality of life here.

Plas Bodegroes, Efailnewydd LL53 5TH 01758 612510 www.bodegroes.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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