The Peaks of Yr Eifl

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Travelling onto the Llyn Peninsula is visiting another country in every sense. The commercial bustle of the North Wales coast and the crowded Snowdonia National Park are left behind and you enter a much quieter realm. It's also very Welsh – you will hear the language spoken everywhere, in the shops, the pubs and outside the schools. This isn't an affectation; Welsh language and culture are very much alive here, making a visit a magical experience.

The three peaks of Yr Eifl dominate the north coast of Llyn; in fact Garn Ganol, the centre peak, is the highest point in Llyn at 564 metres (1,850ft). Not very high, you might think, but these quiet hills can provide more challenging walking than you might imagine. The name Yr Eifl comes from the Welsh word for fork and travelling on the A499 from Caernarfon towards Pwllheli, the three prongs of Yr Eifl are obvious and well-named.

These hills are interesting in more than just a visual sense. The north peak, Garn Fôr, has been extensively quarried, producing granite for the curling stones used at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Its north cliff plunges straight down into the Irish Sea. The middle peak of Garn Ganol is not only the highest peak in Llyn, it also has an ancient cairn on the summit and dramatic views down to Tre'r Ceiri and beyond. The third peak, Tre'r Ceiri, has one of the best examples of a prehistoric hill-fort in Europe.

Historical connections go back centuries. The walk starts from the car park at the top of Nant Gwrtheyrn, named after the British chieftain Vortigern who lived and died in the valley, Gwrtheyrn being the Welsh version of his name. The once thriving quarry village at the bottom of the valley was abandoned for economic reasons, but now has a new lease of life as the home of the National Language Centre of Wales. The fort of Tre'r Ceiri was almost certainly in use before and during the Roman occupation and the cairn at the highest point is even older, possibly Bronze Age.

This is a short walk by some standards, up a hill of modest height, but you will need more time than you might imagine. Garn Ganol has magnificent views stretching from Pembroke to the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland and to the Isle of Man and in season there are bilberries to search for. The hill-fort of Tre'r Ceiri could equally delay you, so allow plenty of time for exploration. Add a visit to the National Language Centre and a simple half-day walk has suddenly become a full day.

As you walk, try saying the name Yr Eifl as the locals would – it sounds something like “Ur Eye-vl”. You should definitely avoid the clumsy anglicised version, 'The Rivals', which has no place in these very Welsh hills - and that's from an Englishman (or Sais if you prefer)!

Wales - North Wales - Gwynedd - Llyn Peninsula


Ancient Monument, Birds, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Sea, Toilets
01/07/2021 - Dennis Johnson

Tough walk not to be underestimated . Lots of boulders to clamber over near the top of Garn Ganol. Path up is not always clear on the way up. Wonderful views from the top of all 3 peaks Fantastic walk

27/08/2019 - Andy McTaggart

This has to be one of the most complete and spectacular walks I have ever encountered, and my wife and I cannot thank Paul enough for this walk listing. I think that to get the most out of this walk, you really should aim for a clear sunny day with a light breeze. We spent fine wonderful hours scaling the peaks, the wonderful hill fort, and the beautiful heather, on August bank holiday Monday. We encountered less than ten people throughout our seven mile wander around the area, and of course late August and early September sees the heather at its best. The majority of walks generally include patches of functional walking with average surroundings, whereas this extraordinary walk, simply never lets up. The views are so breathtakingly wonderful, that at times one literally doesn't know where to look and what to marvel at first. We chose to start our walk in the early afternoon, to avoid crowds, leaving at 3 pm and returning at sun set around 8.30 pm. On the return leg you have to keep an eye on the navigation as there are a lot of paths and it would be relatively easy to detour down the village. If in doubt , just make sure that you keep taking the trail to the right of the village and you land very happily back in the car park. It's also worth a drive down to the cafe as the views of the Yr Eifl and Garn Ganol are absolutely stunning. This was an awesome walk which was as good as walking gets, and a pointer as to why one does not have to follow the hordes on Snowdon to enjoy some of the most amazing scenery on the planet. Many and sincere thanks to Paul Shorrock. Simply, Majestic, magnificent and wonderful stuff. Andy & Wendy McTaggart

01/05/2011 - Richard Hardy

Fantastic walk, we took our collie and there were no problems (though it's sheep country so normal precautions apply). We left him at the bottom of the first summit which we scrambled up, though by using the repeater station steps and a fairly well consolidated path which exists at the rear of the station the summit could have been reached easily.