Little Orme

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The Little Orme from Llandudno Promenade

The Little Orme is a headland on the coast of Caernarfonshire, on the Irish Sea, rising 463ft in height. It is one of two headlands at either end of Llandudno Bay; the other, larger, headland is the Great Orme.

The Little Orme is known in Welsh variously as Rhiwledyn or Trwyn y Fuwch, Trwyn y Gogarth or Y Gogarth Fach (the Great Orme is Y Gogarth).


Unlike the Great Orme, the Little Orme has not been developed for copper mining or tourism. There has been limestone quarrying since the mid-19th century on the Penrhyn Bay side; the quarrying industry was centred on Porth Dyniewyd and served by its own narrow gauge railway, but ceased in 1936. There is some farming on the lower slopes.

The cliffs are a popular challenge for highly experienced rock climbers. The Coast Guard Rescue Unit use the Little Orme for training.

Wildlife and environment

Parts of the Little Orme (notably the NWWT's Rhiwledyn Nature Reserve) are a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The North Wales Bird Trust is located on its lower slopes, and the Little Orme is a warden-patrolled sanctuary for sea birds. Bird viewing around the cliffs can be facilitated by trips using small boats.

The North Wales Path runs across the Little Orme, using the several public footpaths on its summit.

Historical interest

The Little Orme was inhabited during the Upper Paleolithic, notably the Pant y Wennol cave.

A small hoard of Iron Age metalwork was found in a cave on the Little Orme.

The mediæval chapel of Blessed Mary of Penrhyn, abandoned in 1930 and now in ruins, is at the foot of the Little Orme in the grounds of Penrhyn Hall at Penrhyn Bay.

On 14 April 1587, printing material for Roman Catholic literature was found in a cave on the Little Orme, where it had been used by the recusant Robert Pugh (squire of Penrhyn Hall) and his Chaplain Father William Davies to print Y Drych Cristianogawl (The Christian Mirror), the first book to be printed in Wales. They had taken refuge there during the persecution of Romanists instigated by Queen Elizabeth I in May 1586.

The Royal Artillery coastal gunnery school, 198 battery, was posted to Little Orme during the Second World War. Target practice was undertaken from the headland to anchored boats, and unspent ammunition and unexploded shells may still be encountered offshore. Gun emplacements and ancillary buildings were in situ until at least the early 1960s, but the site has since been 'landscaped'.

See also

Outside links

Coordinates: 53°19′29″N 3°46′43″W / 53.32472°N 3.77861°W / 53.32472; -3.77861


  • Ivor Wynne Jones. Llandudno Queen of Welsh Resorts Landmark, Ashbourne Derbyshire 2002 ISBN 1-84306-048-5