Three Beaches and Whistling Sands

The sun was shining though the wind was a little than a breeze, so it was another walk along the Wales Coast Path. The idea was to find one of the little coves, or Porth, that are so common here on the Lleyn. Pouring over the map we noticed a bit of sand at a place called Porth Iago? The map shows there was no direct road access, but a small car park was marked at the end of a dirt track. So armed with sandwiches We drove along miles of single track road with Aunty diligently map reading. Finally we turned off the metalled road onto a farm track and after almost a mile arrived at a farm with a parking ticket machine in the middle of the yard. This is not something you see everyday.  There were signs all along the track warning anyone who didn’t pay for parking would face dire consequences. After feeding the machine with £4 we drove along the track for another half a mile and finally reached the car park. For somewhere so isolated it was already busy – this beach must be an open secret!

You don't often find a parking ticket machine in a farm yard.
You don’t often find a parking ticket machine in a farm yard.

We didn’t stop at Porth Iago, But first walked north along the Coast towards Porth Ferin, named after Saint Merin who had a church dedicated to him. The church now only a ruin, but had a very small parish of about a mile in length serving the fisher and farming families in Netherlands area.

Looking down on the small jetty at Porth Ferin.
Looking down on the small jetty at Porth Ferin.

The port here comprises by two small inlets side by side. The first one we came across is wider and has a small jetty built onto the side of the rocks. We think that when the tide is out it exposes sand, but we were there at high tide. In the last is was used for quite large boats as the old photo below shows.

A old photo of Poth Ferin showing boats pulled up onto the beach.
A old photo of Poth Ferin showing boats pulled up onto the beach.

In 1859 a severe storm hit the Lleyn Peninsula and a number of ships were wrecked along the Coast. At Porth Ferin a schooner called the Eliza was wrecked with all hands lost to the storm.

Looking back towards the larger part of Porth Ferin as we walked around the next headland.
Looking back towards the larger part of Porth Ferin as we walked around the next headland.
Just a short walk from the first inlet is another small cove that is also part of Porth Ferin. This one has a small slip way, and seem to be used occasionally. Though it's not easy to get a boat down here. On the top of the cliff is a farm call Rhwyngyddwyporth - a very descriptive name as it means
Just a short walk from the first inlet is another small cove that is also part of Porth Ferin. This one has a small slip way, and seem to be used occasionally. Though it’s not easy to get a boat down here. On the top of the cliff is a farm call Rhwyngyddwyporth – a very descriptive name as it means “Between the two ports”.

We then walked back towards Porth Iago. This is great little beach, and well sheltered from the breeze. By the time we had got back the beach had filled up, with kids have a great time on the sand.

Porth Iago - named after someone called Iago.
Porth Iago – named after someone called Iago, before it had filled up by lunch time.

During a during storm on the night of January 24th, 1884, a Scots brig named ‘Luther’ with a crew of nine was wrecked at Porth Iago. About two o clock in the morning of the 25th two of the crew arrived at a farm called Ty Mawr, very exhausted, who said that they had left another two on the road to die, but a search later was made and they were found and got safely to the house. Those that were saved were the mate, an old man, the cook and two able-seamen: Gilbert Ross was the name of one, and John Jeness was the other. The captain’s name was John Duncan. He was drowned together with his son, his body was found at Clynnog, twenty miles up the coast. One man was saved by clinging to the ship’s biscuit tank, and eventually was brought ashore. She was loaded with general cargo at Dundee, bound for St John’s Newfoundland, but the most conspicuous part of the cargo was beer and stout, and Scotch whiskey, all in large barrels of 40 to 60 gallons each.

View along the coast between Porth Iago and Porthor
View along the coast between Porth Iago and Porthor

After lunch we carried on along the Coast to Porthor, on the map this is named as Porth Oer, which translates as Cold Port, but Potprthor could be translated as Gatekeeper. Take you pick I suppose, but with the wind blowing over the sands in the winter I think I’d go for Porth Oer.

Feeding on the edge.
Feeding on the edge.
Porth Oer coming into view.
Porth Oer coming into view.
It really is a smart beach.
It really is a smart beach.

The name “Whistling Sands” comes from a squeaking sound as you walk over the sands. With each step as you heel digs into the sand a squeal comes back at you. The sound is created is created by the unusual shape of the grains of sand on the beach. There’s more on this phenomenon here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_sand.

Squeak squeak.
Squeak squeak.

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