Pwllheli to Criccieth

A flat walk from a market town to a castle town

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Start and finish

Start in Pwllheli town centre and finish in Criccieth, although there are a number of options to shorten the route considerably.


11 miles / 18 kilometres if completing the whole route, but there are options for shorter walks by catching the bus to Llanystumdwy (3 miles / 5 kilometres to return Criccieth) or a bus or train to Pen-y-chain (8 miles / 13 kilometres) or Abererch (9 miles/ 14 kilometres).

Along the way

This walk begins at Llŷn’s largest town, the bustling resort of Pwllheli. A market town for over six centuries, today’s town started to take shape when the railway arrived in the 1860s and tourism developed.

From the town centre we head out past Hafan Pwllheli, one of the finest yachting venues in Western Britain with access to some of the best sailing waters in the UK. It is also home to the community enterprise, Plas Heli Sailing Academy.

Onto the crescent-shaped mile-long Glandon beach, and after a while, a sandy path just behind the dunes may make it an easier walk than on the beach itself.

At the end of the beach, we go up the grassy headland at Pen-y-chain. It’s well worth stopping here to take in the spectacular views. To our right we can see back along the beach to Pwllheli, to the left is our destination of Criccieth, against the backdrop of Moel y Gest near Porthmadog. On a clear day, most of the wide sweep of Cardigan Bay can be seen from here with great views of Snowdon, Criccieth and Harlech castles.

When we reach a small river (Afon Wen) the path heads inland for a few miles before reaching the pretty hamlet of Llanystumdwy.
It’s worth a detour into the village to visit the Lloyd George Museum, commemorating one of Wales’ greatest statesmen. The museum houses the former Prime Minister’s personal copy of the Treaty of Versailles and provides a glimpse into the life of the man who gave women the vote and created the first “old age” pension. The community-run pub in the village, Tafarn y Plu provides an opportunity to break for refreshments.

The path now heads back to the coast through farmland and crosses the picturesque Cambrian railway line, one of the most scenic rail routes in the UK, before reaching the estuary of the Afon Dwyfor.

Soon, the town of Criccieth comes into view. As we head towards it, we pass a farm called Ynysgain (Fair Island) Fawr on our left - a name that suggests that it may once have been an island.

On reaching Criccieth, the pretty pastel-coloured hotels and guest houses on Marine Terrace mark our arrival – and perching spectacularly on the rocks above, dominating the town, is Criccieth Castle

Built by two of Wales’ most powerful medieval princes (Llywelyn the Great and Llywelyn the Last), amended by Edward 1, and eventually destroyed by Owain Glyndwr in 1404, the ruin was sufficiently evocative to move the great artist, Turner, to immortalise the scene in a famous painting.

Like Pwllheli at the start of this walk, present-day Criccieth took form when tourism arrived with the railway in the 1860s. The town has plenty of accommodation and food and drink options – but keep a special eye out for its famous ice cream shop, Cadwalader’s.

Walk highlights

Rhys Roberts, Wales Coast Path officer for Gwynedd, said: “An easy, flat walk along sandy and shingle beaches provide the bookends for this walk. There are some awesome views in places and the museum in the picturesque village of Llanystumdwy provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the world’s most influential political leaders of the twentieth century.”

Need to know

Car parking and food and drinks outlets are plentiful in Pwllheli and Criccieth.

Public toilets are available in both towns and in Llanystumdwy. There are frequent trains and buses between Pwllheli and Criccieth with train stations at Pen-y-chain and Abererch and a bus stop at Llanystumdwy providing options for shorter walks.


Download the Pwllheli to Criccieth map (JPEG, 2.47MB)