Many of those making the long and arduous journey came from all over Britain. They were hoping for a miracle cure or, at worst, to die either on Bardsey or on the way there. Hospices and even hospice fields (where the sick and dying could be cared for by local people for a fee) sprang up near many of the churches. Most pilgrims believed that to die on Bardsey, or on en route, guaranteed them a place in Heaven.
Bardsey seen from Uwchmynydd on the Llyn Peninsula
Two Pilgrim Paths headed for Bardsey along the length of Llŷn. One traced the north coast and the other, the south coast. Walkers and modern pilgrims can still follow both routes today, stopping off at churches, crosses, holy wells and other ancient sites along the way. Most are either actually on or within easy walking distance of the Wales Coast Path. Pilgrims on the northern route gathered as far away as Bangor Cathedral but most started from St Beuno’s church at Clynnog Fawr. The next stop was St Aelhaearn’s church at Llanaelhaearn, followed by isolated St Beuno’s church perched above the sea at Pistyll, and the double- naved St Gwynhoedl’s church at Llangwnnadl. The final church and resting place for pilgrims before the perilous crossing to Bardsey itself was St Hywyn’s at Aberdaron.
Pilgrims on the southern route mustered at the ancient twin champered healing well at St Cybi’s Well, inland from Criccieth. The next stop was St Cawrdraf ’s church at Abererch, near Pwllheli. Then came the simple coastal chapel of St Pedrog’s, at Llanbedrog, followed by St Einion’s at Llanengan, not far inland behind Porth Neigwl (or Hell’s Mouth). As on the northern route, the final church on the Pilgrims’ Path to Bardsey was St Hywyn’s at Aberdaron.