Traethllyfn is a westerly-facing sandy beach between Porthgain and Abereiddy on Pembrokeshire’s rugged north-western coast.
It has a link with the Celtic Christian monks and hermits who frequented this coast so close to the sacred settlement of St Davids.
Legend says that St Barre or Finbar sailed from Traethllyfn to Ireland to found Gouganebarra and the City of Cork, from where Columba is said to have sailed in penitence to Iona after a quarrel with Barre, whose name has been ever since associated with this part of the Welsh coast known as Ynys Barry (Barry Island).
The thought of a voyage along the dangerous coasts all the way to Iona in a small and rudimentary boat makes the blood run cold and speaks volumes for the faith and courage of those Celtic saints 2000 years ago.
Traethllyfn is a fine beach, sheltered from the northerly and north-easterly winds, and its golden sands look very tempting from the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Footpath which passes along the cliff above. It is accessible from the footpath either from Abereiddy or Porthgain but at one time, when the coastal footpath was incomplete and National Park officers were trying to negotiate the rights of way, it was a bone of contention whether the landowner who farmed at nearby Barry Island Farm would allow any access. He did relent, but for some years a fee was charged for pedestrian access through the farm to the beach which he regarded as his private bathing place. The beach is approached via a precipitous flight of steps which daunt the faint-hearted walker. They are said to have been cut by Italian Prisoners of War working on the farm after World War Two. But the climb is well worth the effort for the sand is firm, the bathing safe and the scenery and the rockpools a delight to the eye and the imagination. A word of caution is required, however, for it is easy for the unwary to get cut off by the rising tide, while the cliffs should be carefully scanned for the potential danger of rock falls from the overhangs. The old path down to the shore takes one through an unusually thick layer of glacial deposit. On Penclegyr headland, just north of Traethllyfn, are the cliff quarries which once fed the insatiable appetite of Porthgain crushing plant with the hard, green igneous granite which was reduced to gravel chippings for the local roads. The big hole in the cliffs and the remains of the tramway across the headland to the huge bins on the clifftop are silent now, but during the boom years the place vibrated with activity as a never-ending procession of steamships swallowed the thundering chutes of stone of several grades and took them to many points round the Welsh coast and over to Bristol and Watchet in Somerset.
Seals calve in the rocky coves each side of Traethllyfn and fulmar petrels nest on the cliff ledges,