Dag Pike finds refuge on the western tip of the Llýn Peninsula while he waits for the ideal conditions for navigating Bardsey Sound

Aberdaron: shelter on the North Wales coast

Located at the top end of Cardigan Bay, Bardsey Island creates quite a barrier to the tidal current flowing round the bay and in turn this can generate some nasty seas, overfalls and rip tides around the island, writes Dag Pike.

With tides running at up to 6 knots and the area wide open to the west, Bardsey Sound, between the island and the mainland, has quite an evil reputation and is not a place to take lightly.

The place names – Hell’s Mouth and Devil’s Ridge – say it all.

However, the wide bay at Aberdaron just to the north of the sound can be a good place to find an anchorage if you are waiting for slack water or conditions to improve before turning the corner at Braich-y-Pwll and heading north.

Chart for anchoring at Aberdaron

Credit: Maxine Heath

There is good shelter in the bay from any wind from the west right round to the north-east, but it is wide open to the south.

Even with a westerly wind, you can get the swell running into the bay unless you tuck in close under the cliffs on the west side.

A good spot is off the little cove of Porth Meudwy where there is adequate water quite close in, but if you want to go ashore for a drink or a meal then choose a spot off the village of Aberdaron itself.

Keep to the eastern side as there are boulders on the western side brought down by the river that exits on the beach.

Landing here involves using the beach which could leave you with a long carry if the tide is ebbing.

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Ashore, you have the Ship Hotel and the Gwesty Tý Nwydd for food and drink; the latter is a large white building which is a good guide into the anchorage.

The approaches to Aberdaron Bay are clear of danger apart from two islands – Ynys Gwylan-bach and Ynys Gwylan-fawr – that mark the eastern edge of the bay.


Dag Pike was one of the UK’s best-known nautical journalists and authors, covering both sailing and motor boating for many years.

You can pass inside the inner island with a clear passage if you are coming from the east.

From the west there are no off-lying dangers and you can head close round the Pen y Cil headland.

Porth Meudwy is a lovely little cove that is a National Trust property.

This is where the ferry that links Bardsey Island with the mainland operates from and it is also home to fishing boats that launch off the beach with tractor assistance.

There are no facilities here. At Porth Meudwy you can anchor under the cliffs which run sheer into the water but it is probably best to anchor a bit to the south of the cove to avoid traffic.

Look out for lobster pots.

In summer months Aberdaron Bay can get busy, with many boats coming out from Abersoch and Pwllheli to spend the day at this delightful anchorage.

Most of this activity will die down as evening approaches so you should get a quiet night at anchor, but you might want to choose a spot a bit further south towards Pen y Cil because the day boats tend to head for the beach areas.