The center is in a gorgeous location at the bottom of an extremely steep, extremely switchbacky road. The village of Nant Gwrtheyrn (say, nant goorth-ayrn) was settled in the 5th century. Over the years it died three times, most recently in 1959, we were told by Pegi Talfryn, a onetime Seattleite who became enamored of the Welsh language early in life, came to Wales and never left. Today she oversees the language classes at the Nant that draw students from around the world.
Bardsey's a pleasant place to spend a few hours hiking the interior trail or the coastal trail, spying foxglove and other wildflowers and checking out the seal colony. On the trip over, the rest of Evans' boat was filled with folks out to spend a week or two in the houses that are sprinkled around the island. They're substantial, expansive houses but have very basic facilities, making for a sort of indoor camping experience (enlli.org).
As we were hiking back to take the boat to the mainland, we met Daisy, a 16-year-old sheep dog who brought us a stick and wanted to play fetch. Daisy's "mom," as it turned out, is Evans' mother, Christine, a part-time resident of Bardsey. She schooled us in the island's history: Edward I came here in 1284, and over the centuries thousands of religious pilgrims came.
"The legend was that if you died here or on the way here, you would go straight to heaven," she said, explaining the claims that Bardsey is the burial site of 20,000 "saints."
Guess those early pilgrims didn't realize that when they were in Wales, they already were in heaven.
If you go
Many U.S. and foreign airlines provide service from the U.S. to Manchester, England, the best choice for traveling to Wales. We flew US Airways from Chicago in June, connecting through Philadelphia, and paid about $1,150 apiece. In the offseason, cheaper fares will be available. A check for the first week in October found a nonstop from Chicago to Manchester for $787, a one-stop flight from Miami for $656 and a one-stop flight from New York for $720.
The National Trust lodgings
Many of the lodgings accommodate two to four people, but larger properties are suitable for a dozen or more. All have complete and well-appointed kitchens, washers and dryers and other modern amenities. Prices naturally can vary considerably according to season. A more-than-200-page color book can be ordered from the National Trust that describes in detail the lodgings available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That information also is available at nationaltrustcottages.co.uk; 011-44-844 8002070.
More info: Wales Tourism, http://www.visitwales.com; British Tourist Authority, visitbritain.com
Also of interest
Wales has about 200 golf courses, including Newport's Celtic Manor Resort, in southeast Wales. I didn't play there, but I did at Nefyn & District Golf Club, a 26-hole links course on the way to our cottage on the ocean. The location alone is worth an outing. nefyn-golf-club.com