As the clouds thinned, and glittering sunlight speckled the ocean, my little sister turned and said: “God, that’s prettier than the Greek islands.”
And indeed it was.
She meant the way the cliffs, a smorgasbord of gorse-covered Precambrian rocks battered by the tides for millennia, jutted sharply out to sea before retreating back on themselves as far as the eye could see.
But this wasn’t a Greek island. It wasn’t even close to a Greek island.
It was Wales, a place famed for mines, rugby and sheep — not necessarily in that order.
So it was strange that, on a cliff edge somewhere near Mynydd Mawr, I felt myself nodding in complete agreement — genuinely amazed at how beautiful this place was.
It hadn’t always been like this. I’m not a natural walker, nor am I a natural lover of Wales, having been forced to spend pretty much every family holiday of my entire childhood years in a tiny hamlet called Morfa Nefyn, a place proudly devoid of anything that might interest a sulky teenager.
The origins of why we were here lay slightly lost in the fog of a drink-fuelled evening, but here we were — myself, two of my sisters and my dad, all signed up for a walking tour with specialists Celtic Trails.
To be honest, on day one I felt like I’d lost a bet.
We walked out of the hotel into one of those imperceptibly fine mists and bundled ourselves into a waiting taxi that took us to the start of a 13-kilometre hike from Nefyn to Towyn.
As we hit Nefyn beach, the sun suddenly appeared right on cue and — even weirder — as we strode out across the cliff tops, cliché after cliché started to fall into place.
My city office suddenly really did seem the claustrophobic pigeon-hole that it is, the air really did seem cleaner, the soul really was stirred and, by god, it was beautiful.
Day two was a 15-kilometre hike across isolated beaches and craggy cliffs to Porth Oer. Day three took in the surreal Whistling Sands (it squeaks when you walk on it), the massive seascapes around St Mary’s Well and the lovely little village of Aberdaron.
It rained a bit and nobody cared, walking in such a deeply splendid landscape was starting to feel vaguely zen-like.
The guidebooks will tell you of the fascinating history, the ancient churches, the Druid settlements, and it is all there for you to find.
But that’s all dead and gone — the real beauty of walking the Lleyn Penninsula is its ability to bring you back to life.