Yr Eifl comprises three
peaks, namely Garn Fôr, Garn Ganol (the highest) and Tre’r Ceiri. Garn
Ganol is known locally as Yr Eifl and is some 1850 feet in height. Mynydd
y Gwaith is the common name for Garn Fôr. The name Eifl comes from the
Welsh name for fork. Yr Eifl is a corner-stone for Llyn, Eifionnydd and
Arfon districts. With its face in Llyn and its back in Arfon, the journey
to its summit from Llithfaen is in Llyn! It is important to wear attire
compatible with mountain trekking as temperature and wind conditions can
How to reach the path.
There is a popular
path from the approach road to Nant Gwyrtheyrn that joins the path to the
summit, but in this instance, I start from a slightly different direction.
From the Llithfaen crossroads, follow the road towards Caernarfon for
about 100 yards. Opposite the M.C. chapel, turn left up the hill and
follow the road to a mountain gate. Being careful to shut the gate behind
you, a car may be considerately parked beside the track beyond the
Why this path?
That cottage was my
childhood homestead and Yr Eifl was effectively our back garden. From here
the mountain resembles a classic volcano providing a stunning 1000ft
backdrop. The facing slope sports a ‘Dragon’ stone pattern and
majestically overlooks the Llyn peninsula. The cocktail aroma of heather,
and peat can be overwhelming in summer. To the right along the plateau
lies a distinctive outcrop of rock named Creigiau Cribyn and further
beyond the pass of Bwlch Swngwn is Mynydd Caernguwch with a pile of rocks
on its summit supposedly deposited there by a startled giant. The main
road is at its highest point in Llyn at Bwlch Swngwn. Below Creigiau
Cribyn is large field claimed from the mountain following WW2. A small
reservoir exists in the valley below that once supplied Llithfaen, Pistyll
and a part of Nefyn. This is the source of a rivulet named Carfen that
formed a border between the parishes of Pistyll and Caernguwch. The marsh
nearby is rich in fascinating plants such as the Bog Cotton marsh-heather
and an instect-eating plant.
Time to the summit
As lads, my friend and I could
reach the summit starting from the house in 20 minutes and return in less
than 10 minutes.
The wide double-track eventually
leads to Tre’r Ceiri, so we do not start along that! We take a
narrow path on the left that leads to the bottom of the escarpment over
somewhat barren terrain for about ¼
mile. This area was once covered with peat long since consumed by local
cottagers and before large-scale quarrying began. Workers did, in fact,
use this path to reach a stone sets factory (Gwaith Cerrig yr Eifl) on the
northern side of Yr Eifl.
point where the path starts the main ascent, the workers took a path to
the left over the shoulder of the hill past a spring called Ffynnon Oer
(The cold Spring). In that direction also lies a small enclosure where
they (and shepherds) took refuge from the elements. This is called
‘Gorffwys Ennyd’ (Rest – Awhile).
back to our own path! At this point one can gaze back at the splendour of
the Peninsula with its backbone of hills extending to Enlli (Bardsey). The
summit of Mynydd y Rhiw appears over the shoulder of Garn Fadryn. To the
South over Pwllheli’s Craig yr Imbill (Gimlet Rock ), Ceredigion
(Cardigan) Bay stretches into the distance. The bays of Nefyn,
Porthdinllaen and the north coast coves
in the West. The road to Nant Gwyrtheyrn skirts a hill called Mynydd Cae’r
Defaid where the Nant Quarry was worked. Beyond that is the site of Llyn
Bwlch and the district of the Ciliau farmsteads and the Carreg y Llam
walk becomes harder now and the scenery extends while sinking. The Draig
(Dragon) pattern appears to the right below, which is a spring and basic
water works called Ffynnon y Ddraig. Further to the right appears a craggy
hillock known as Clogwyn Nansi. As Nansi sinks into the scenery, another
hillock appears and that’s called Clogwyn Dannedd (Teeth) as the name
implies. Many foxes’ dens exist there. Beyond that is the famous hill fort
Tre’r Ceiri and further still Eryri (Snowdonia) and the districts of Arfon
and Eifionnydd. At the foot of Clogwyn Dannedd is a subterranean rivulet
known as Ffynnon Aur (Golden Spring) that may be heard after a rainy
The ascent is harder
now and the summit still can’t be seen! At one point here Nansi, Cribyn,
Caernguwch and Imbill (Gimlet Rock) almost form a straight line. Yr Eifl
was a useful landmark for sailors entering Pwllheli harbour before Global
Further on up, more
peat is evident with bilberry bushes sprouting between rocks and in the
heather. There is less gorse here. At last we pass between two cairns
forming Yr Eifl’s ‘ears’ or ‘horns’ before reaching the Trigonometrical
Station on the summit cairn. Here the wind can often be felt – and heard,
but for those fortunate enough to come here on a calm day, the
tranquillity is surreal and an unusual condition these days. Only the RAF
can mar this. The odd bleat or the sound of a crow or the heavenly trill
of the lark is naturally accepted.
The scenery and thoughts:
To the East, over the
glaciated Creigiau’r Cwm, Arfon district appears. In the foreground can be
seen the summits of Gurn Ddu and Gurn Goch with the splendour of Snowdonia
and the coast along to Caernarfon Bar and the Menai Straits. With Anglesey
and Holyhead to the left, a detailed aerial view of
the Tre’r Ceiri hill fort can be studied on the right.
On a clear day, one
may gaze much further afield to England, and the Isle of Man.
In the 1960’s, there was a superb
reception here of Radio Caroline from Douglas Bay. Using more basic
communications, in the days of old, the inhabitants of Llithfaen would
blow horns at this summit to warn Arfon folks of the approach of the
Redcoats seeking to ‘recruit’ young soldiers from their midst!
On the Northern slope
is the old stone set workings evident by its thick rubble walls. Beyond
that is the sheer face of the glaciated Graig Ddu, and Cwm Nant Gwyrtheyrn
which is bustling with life once more, thankfully. Strange to
imagine quarrying/fishing/farming community living down there a century
ago. Members of my family lived there and Eileen Webb wrote a chapter on
Uncle Robin (Robert) in her book ‘This Valley was Ours’. The
original access road, unsuitable for motor vehicles, called Y Gamffordd
Road) has all but disappeared from sight. Acid-producing conifers now mar
the pace that will leave barren ground when harvested. To the right is the
fortress-like cliff Y Gorllwyn scarred by the Croft quarry. Also Garn Fôr
– Mynydd y Gwaith that has been quarried as Chwarel Trefor. Its
contribution to communications is a Microwave Link close to its summit.
The rock from this mountain, with its special crystalline structure,
provides employment for a few people fabricating the sliding base for
‘Curling Stones’. Pilgrims used the pass called Bwlch yr Eifl between Yr
Eifl and Garn Fôr on their way to Bardsey in the old days.
Over the hill of Cae’r Defaid to
the left on a clear day, one may see the coast and hills of Ireland. As a
matter of fact, Wicklow (Sugarloaf) mountain has a shape similar toYr Eifl
and both may be observed like
twins from one point on the Irish Sea.
Almost the whole of
the beautiful Eifionnydd district is visible in this direction. One can
follow the line of Y Lôn Goed (The tree-lined lane that almost traverses
the peninsula) The visible sweep of Cardigan Bay extends from Cilan to
Preseli in the south.
One day in the 60s my father and I
were ushering sheep from the direction of Creigiau’r Cwm and making our
way between Tre’r Ceiri and Yr Eifl, we came across a rectangular ‘crazy
paving’ pattern in the newly-burnt ground. A sketch of it that I made at
the time disappeared. I returned there several times years later to
that the heather and bilberry bushes had re-grown obliterating the spot
and the object was impossible to find.
This is my favourite view – Llyn like
an outward-reaching arm with the sea often forming a fine lace around it
with Bardsey at the tip. No wonder that the Pilgrims were attracted there
with the setting sun forming a heavenly path to the horizon. In fine
weather, this mountain slope, despite its rugged nature, can be a truly
restful place where worldly aches and worries simply evaporate.
Back to reality
Following the same path back is an
obvious choice – the one that could be done in a few minutes – at
one’s peril – beware! I often make my way into the saddle between Yr Eifl
and Tre’r Ceiri then follow
the path to the right over a style then along the plateau between Creigiau
Cribin and Clogwyn Gwyn (photo). This leads back to the double track
There are special places on Yr Eifl
where abundant crops of bilberries grow in season and given the correct
So a trip to the summit of Yr Eifl can
provide a good work-out, nutritional sustenance and, most certainly,
comfort for the soul!
P.S. for some poetical references
and quips, see the Welsh version of this.