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Separating Cardigan Bay and its northern arm, Tremadog Bay, from Caernarfon Bay, the gentle western Lleyn Peninsula thrusts out alone into the Irish Sea. It's bounded by the mountains of Snowdonia on the east and by the sea. Having little communication with the outside world before the coming of railroads and highways, the peninsula has a large Welsh-speaking population, although most people also have English as a second language, made necessary by the influx of people coming here to retire, to do business, or just to take holidays.

The peninsula takes its name from an Irish tribe, the Celtic Legine, or Laigin, who didn't have very far to go from home to invade the country of fellow Celts. They were followed by missionaries and pilgrims in the Christian era. The distance from Ireland is so short that when you stand on National Trust property high on a cliff above St. Mary's Well you can often see the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland with the naked eye.

The Lleyn Peninsula has beaches, hills, farmland, moorland, villages nestled in the hollows, trees, heather, gorse, and country lanes. There are traces of hill forts here, and you can find standing stones, monastery ruins, pilgrim trails, holy wells (four of them), and nonconformist chapels. Sporting enthusiasts find fishing, golf, watersports, and rough shooting.

For information on the peninsula, get in touch with the Tourist Information Centre, Min Y Don, Station Square, Pwllheli (tel. 01758/613000; www.wales-calling.com/guide/lleyn.htm). The two best towns on the peninsula are Porthmadog and Criccieth .

Pwllheli, lying 13km (8 miles) to the west of Criccieth, is the principal transportation hub of the peninsula, with daily buses arriving from London. Buses also pull in here every hour from Bangor. You may not want to linger in Pwllheli, but take a connecting bus to either Porthmadog or Criccieth, which make better centers.

Arriva Trains Wales line, which begins at Aberystwyth, with a change of trains at Dovey Junction, takes you to both Porthmadog and Criccieth. Call tel. 0845/748-4950 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for more information.