Trust captures a Welsh coast gem: Malcolm Pithers reports on a novel move to protect an idyllic bay

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The Independent Online
AN ENTIRE Welsh village, steeped in history if not full of locals, was yesterday bought by the National Trust after months of negotiations.

The trust chose to disclose its new purchase on the beach which overlooks the village of Porth Dinllaen, near to Morfa Nefyn on the north-facing coast of the Lleyn Peninsula, Gwynedd.

The village, said to be one of the prettiest in the United Kingdom, has 18 houses, a lifeboat station, huge cliffs, a beautiful foreshore and a colourful pub. It is the first time that the trust has bought a whole village.

Porth Dinllaen lies in a crescent-shaped bay, sheltered by cliffs over 100ft high and seems to have escaped most modern developments. It provides safe anchorage for fishermen and passing craft and is difficult to reach.

Tourists have to park their cars some distance away and cross a golf course before dropping down cliff-top paths into the village. The trust has bought the property to allow its Enterprise Neptune scheme to safeguard what is an important part of the coastline in perpetuity.

When Peter Broomhead, the trust's regional director for North Wales, disclosed there would be no developments and few changes, local people cheered him on the village beach yesterday. He said: 'No major changes are planned and the main aim is to ensure that the qualities of the properties will remain and are enhanced.'

The village has long been in the hands of a local family, Wynne Finch, who decided that its future should best be in the hands of an organisation like the trust. There were local fears that developers would buy the village and change its character. But yesterday Charles Wynne Finch said that he was 'delighted' the trust had taken over and that its future was secure.

Porth Dinllaen is something of a hidden gem along the coastline, lying about 18 miles south of Caernarfon. In the distant past it was only entered by horse and cart through a farm, which is now the golf course.

It is perhaps better known in Wales not just for its tranquillity but as the spot once earmarked as a possible crossing point to Ireland rather than Holyhead. There was a bitter debate in the 19th century between the two areas until in 1819 Parliament chose Holyhead.

The trust's Enterprise Neptune scheme was set up in 1965 to help protect hundreds of miles of unspoilt coastline. A national appeal over the years has raised almost pounds 20m.

Wandering around the tiny village houses yesterday, it was virtually impossible to find permanent local residents. Most of the properties are used as holiday homes.

But those who have had connections with the village for many years say they welcome the trust's deal, providing there is little change. The trust does intend removing a few unsightly television aerials from around the bay.

What was not disclosed yesterday was how much had been paid for the village. Neither party wanted to discuss the finances involved.

It is known, however, that at least pounds 200,000 from the enterprise fund was given 'in part payment' for the village and its glorious views.

(Photograph omitted)