Welcome to the magic of the British Isles where nature’s whimsy often presents surprises to charm even the most jaded traveller. On the Welsh coast, tucked away in the arms of the Llŷn Peninsula, is one such curiosity – a beach that sings to the rhythm of your steps, fondly known as Whistling Sands.
Whistling Sands, or Porth Oer in Welsh, lies about 12 miles from the bustling harbour town of Pwllheli. The easiest way to reach this melody-spinning beach is by car. Head out on the A499 from Pwllheli, and then switch to the B4413, following signs for Aberdaron until you spot directions for Porth Oer. There’s a well-managed National Trust car park close by, so parking won’t be a bother.
If you fancy a bit of an adventure and are a devotee of public transport, then do hop on the bus number 8A from Pwllheli, which takes a roundabout route through Llithfaen and Nefyn to reach Aberdaron. From Aberdaron, a brisk walk or a short taxi ride will land you on the shores of Whistling Sands.
Once you’ve arrived, take a moment to let the beauty of this horseshoe-shaped bay wash over you. The first sight that’ll strike you is the shimmering expanse of sand, blushing pink under the sun. The grains of sand here are unique; they’re tiny, rounded and perfectly smooth, a combination that gives the beach its signature ‘whistle’ when you walk on the sand.
Turning your gaze to the water, you’ll spot a striking rocky island standing tall against the waves. This is Carreg Onnen, or One Tree Rock, named for the solitary tree that used to crown its peak. Although the tree is long gone, the rock remains a captivating landmark, and during low tide, it’s possible to wander out and explore it up close.
Should you feel inclined towards a stroll, there are plenty of walks nearby that offer stunning views of the coastline. A popular one is the 4.5-mile walk to Mynydd Anelog, which offers panoramic views over Bardsey Island and Cardigan Bay. If you’re a bird lover, be sure to bring your binoculars, as choughs, fulmars, and peregrine falcons often grace the skies here.
Whistling Sands also forms part of the Wales Coast Path, a path that meanders around the entire coast of Wales, making it the perfect starting point for a more extended walking adventure. Whichever path you choose, remember to respect the beauty of the landscape and leave no trace of your visit behind.
But what makes Whistling Sands really special, aside from its natural beauty, is its unique ‘singing’ quality. You see, under specific conditions, when the sand grains are rubbed together, they produce a sound – a soft, musical whistling, hence the name ‘Whistling Sands’. This is a rare phenomenon, with only about 30 beaches worldwide known to ‘sing’ in this way.
Another delightful tidbit about this area is its rich history. Local legends talk of Saint Cadfan who arrived in this part of Wales during the 6th century. It’s believed he established St. Mary’s Abbey on nearby Bardsey Island, a site that has long been a place of pilgrimage and is often referred to as ‘the island of 20,000 saints’.
So, next time you’re looking for a unique day out, why not make your way to Whistling Sands? With its entrancing views, invigorating walks, fascinating local history, and of course, its remarkable musical sand, it’s a destination that promises a memorable experience. Here’s a beach that not only offers a feast for your eyes but also a symphony for your ears. It’s a natural marvel that will leave you both relaxed and intrigued, a truly delightful combination.
To wrap things up, if you want a day out that’s a touch out of the ordinary, a visit to Whistling Sands might just hit the right note. It’s a corner of Wales that truly sings a different tune!