"Look," Eileen says, pointing at the map. "You can walk the beach all the way to Pwllheli if the tide is out."
We're standing on the beach of Abersoch, the main surf town of the Llyn Peninsula. We've treated ourselves to breakfast out, so now we're feeling ambitious. We can see down to the rocky headland, and it looks passable at this tide. I think the tide is going out.
"But what about the car?" We've paid for three hours of parking, but Pwllheli is far enough away that we won't want to walk back.
"Well, one of us should do it." We both know that Eileen means me; she's the only one authorized to drive the car.
We walk the golden sand beach together toward the rocks. She wants to at least see around the first point.
We have been walking on the Llyn for a couple of days now. It feels, in the seventy degree weather, like Greece, Norway, Alaska, and Scotland all at the same time. Fishing skiffs moor at orange buoys against a backdrop of dramatic hills. We walk golden sand beaches and little footpaths along the cliffs. Nettle, horsetail, fennel, and wild geraniums line the rocks.
I can see why this is such a popular holiday area for Brits, and also how annoying that must be to locals. A Welshman we spoke to on Anglesey told us that there are rules in some areas that you can only sell a house to someone who has a job within twenty miles of it — a way to keep from inflating the housing market out of local grasp. But the Llyn is full of holiday cottages and caravan parks.
We're still in shoulder season, but we see many other tourists like us, holding maps and looking for public footpaths that lead through the edges of residents' yards.
Both Snowdonia and the Llyn are traditional strongholds of Welsh culture and language due to their remoteness. It is very rural here: most of the land is sheep pasture.
The Welshman in Anglesey was on holiday himself. We walked together to investigate a neolithic burial chamber, and on the way he talked about the Welsh colonies in Argentina, the beauty of the language — he recited pastoral poetry to us — and the political impossibility of raising a Welsh flag and singing the Welsh anthem in schools: not an acceptable practice since this is the UK.
He was unusually friendly, but not by a lot. Everywhere we've gone, people seek out more than passing conversation; even in tourist…