From the Sea – The Great Orme Llandudno


It has often been suggested that the full grandeur of the Great Orme cannot be appreciated unless viewed from seaward. Many of the more mysterious places and the most impressive views on Llandudno’s mountain are only visible from the sea. Boat trips run from the beach at Llandudno and it is possible to enjoy the surprising variety of scenery on the trip from the beach to the lighthouse.

In the precipitous cliff face between the Town Toll Gate and Pen-trwyn is a small cave, called Ogof Hanner Dydd, the Midday Cave. It is said that at twelve noon on the days of the Spring and Summer equinoxes the sun shines directly into its mouth. If this is so, who first realised it, and how?

A little further westwards around the headland of Pen-trwyn is a long wave lashed fissure known as Dutchman’s Cave. Who was this legendary Dutchman, and why was the cave named after him?

In the little bay of Porth Heli, is to be found Pigeons’ cave, a favourite haunt of sea anglers. Early in the nineteenth century, stone was quarried here for the construction of Conwy Bridge. A stone chute used for loading the boats is still visible.

Two similar boulders, and a crescent shaped indentation in the boulder clay form one of the more startling and well-known fishing marks, “The Frog’s Head”. Bearing an amazing resemblance to the head of a frog, and sited on the precipitous grassy slopes below St Tudno’s Church it is visible only from seaward. It is said, usually by the boatmen, that the frog’s mouth always points upwards during fine weather!

Another popular fishing venue is the area around Austen’s Rock, a large, jagged, hazardous and menacing expanse of submerged limestone pavement, only visible at low water, and named after the first keeper of the Great Orme Lighthouse.

The cove a little further westward reflects a memory of the inundation legend. The steep cliff overlooking the sea is known as Cilfin Ceirw, the Precipice of the Deer. Did deer ever leap from this cliff onto a lush forest floor now submerged beneath the waves?

Dominating the scene and towering three hundred and seventy feet above the water are the cliffs of the Great Orme’s Head. On the highest point are to be seen the castellated walls of the former Great Orme’s Head Lighthouse, once one of the highest navigational lights in Britain, now a private residence.

The rocky ledges provide the nesting site for a large colony of sea birds. Every year guillemots, razor bills and kittiwakes, flock here to raise their young. The scene is one of frenzied activity as the birds fly to and fro fishing the surrounding waters and carrying food to their ever hungry offspring. The Great Orme from seaward is certainly memorable!

Reproduced from the booklet
‘The Great Orme Llandudno’s Mountain’ by P. Bardell and T. Parry.
Illustrations by E. Parry