Yr Eifl

My  favourite  walk

by

Aled Williams

Yr Eifl

          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 be deceiving.

 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 cottage there.

 

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, gorse 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.

 

Going up

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.

At the 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).

Well, 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 appear 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 precipice.

The 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 period.

            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 Navigation Systems.

 

The summit

            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:

 

East

            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!

 

North

            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 (Corkscrew 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.

 

South-East

            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 find that the heather and bilberry bushes had re-grown obliterating the spot and the object was impossible to find.

 

South-West

            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 mentioned before.

            There are special places on Yr Eifl where abundant crops of bilberries grow in season and given the correct conditions.

            So a trip to the summit of Yr Eifl can provide a good work-out, nutritional sustenance and, most certainly, comfort for the soul!

Aled

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P.S. for some poetical references and quips, see the Welsh version of this.

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Many thanks to Aled for this excellent walk.

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