Ynys Gifftan, Gwynedd

A tiny bit of Ynys Gifftan. Portmeirion is over the far side of the sands.

Like a brown egg half buried in the sands of the Afon Dwyryd, Ynys Gifftan is fortunate enough to command views of Portmeirion and the Irish Sea in one direction and Snowdonia (and, hey, Snowdon itself when the mists clear) in the other.

A gift from Queen Anne to Lord Harlech (hence its name, which means Anne’s Gift Island) in the early 18th century, the isle has but one residence, a stone-built cottage. It’s currently unoccupied and was, sadly, vandalised a few years ago, but if you wish to do it up a bit and live there, do apply to the island’s owner, the 6th Baron Harlech, who I’m sure would be more than happy to lease you Ynys Gifftan (under the terms of the gift he’s not allowed to sell you the island – a canny woman, Queen Anne).

The sands in the picture above are where the ‘Rover’ scenes from cult 60s television series The Prisoner were shot. Which means, of course, that the buildings you can just make out on the far shore are those of Portmeirion, the Italianate fantasy village built by Clough Williams-Ellis.

In other news, a devastating tsunami swept up the estuary in 1927 causing considerable damage to the local village of Talsarnau and the railway lines that used to run up this stretch of coast (there’s just the one left now). Fans of the 1927 Welsh Tsunami can read about it in my book Tiny Stations (which features Talsarnau) as well as Tiny Islands.

Meanwhile, for fans of footprints, here are some of mine, trailing across the sands towards Talsarnau, the village from where access to the island is possible at low tide if you don’t mind getting your legs wet. You’ll notice that there is only one set of footprints. That’s because Jesus and I hopped the entire way across.

8 thoughts on “Ynys Gifftan, Gwynedd

  1. I was very interested to find this blog. I visited Ynys Gifftan in 2009 as one of the 43 tidal islands that can be walked to from the mainland of Great Britian, for my book No Boat Required – Exploring Tidal Islands.

    I found it hard to find much information on Ynys Gifftan. A Hugh & Mary Williams farmed here in the early 20th century, bringing up four children on the island.

    • Hi Peter,

      Nice to hear from you – I enjoyed reading No Boat Required. Ynys Gifftan was problematic at first and when I dug around in articles culled from old local newspapers I found that some of the information was contradictory too. However, I think I’ve got to the bottom of it.

      Good luck with whatever book you’re currently working on.

      All the best


  2. Who was the Lord Harlech who got given the island in the first place? As far as I know, that title’s only been around since the 19th century. Was it one of Sir Arthur or William Gore, the current Baron’s ancestors?

    I’d be interested to find out more about how the gifting came to pass, too.

    • Many apologies, Alan – your posting got lost in the system somehow. As mentioned above, I’m trying to get to the bottom of who the island was actually given to. I was told Harlech by several people but that doesn’t seem possible.

  3. Baron Harlech, of Harlech is a title created in 1876. Queen Anne was on the throne 1702 to 1714. There is a major discrepancy in this story.

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