Nowhere is far from the sea on the long, low peninsula of Llŷn, which is famous for the unspoilt beauty of its coastline. The AONB, covering a quarter of the peninsula, is largely coastal, but extends inland to take in the volcanic domes which punctuate the plateau.
A marine-eroded platform, Llŷn is in fact a natural extension of the Snowdonian Massif, with complex geology including ancient pre-Cambrian rocks. This varied geology is reflected in a succession of superb coastal landscapes, from the steep craggy cliffs around Aberdaron Bay to sandy bays and headlands and fine dune systems.
Llŷn’s highest points are the north’s abrupt volcanic peaks dominated by the granite crags of Yr Eifl (564m). At its foot, a landscape of hedged fields and rough pastures rolls out towards the sea and finally to the sheer black cliffs of Mynydd Mawr, the tip of the peninsula. The countryside is characterised by its narrow lanes and white-washed farms and includes stretches of ancient open common.
Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), sea bird sanctuary and home to grey seals, is just one of Llŷn’s many notable wildlife sites. Llŷn’s landscape has a rich historic legacy with field monuments dating from Mesolithic times and spectacularly sited Iron Age hill-forts such as Yr Eifl’s Tre’r Ceiri. The majority of the AONB is listed in the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales.
Llŷn’s farming pattern is of small-scale, traditional, family farms raising sheep and cattle with dairying on pockets of better pasture. The few sizeable settlements of the AONB are the former fishing villages such as Abersoch and Nefyn, now bustling tourist centres. A predominantly Welsh-speaking area, Llŷn has experienced the problems of outmigration of its young and working population and a rise in non-Welsh-speaking residents. In the Abersoch hinterland, a high percentage of houses are second homes.
Tourism, particularly water sports, is central to the local economy. The south coast, with its fine facilities many moorings, is one of Britain’s leading sailing centres. Diving, waterskiing and windsurfing are also major visitor activities. The AONB is a very popular caravan and camping destination.