Friday 25 May 2012

Anglesey – day 7: Rhoscolyn

Bargains Galore, Holyhead

For our last full day in Wales, we caught the train to Holyhead once again. This time we had two wetsuits packed into the rucksacks in the hope of finding the perfect spot for a final dip. We had to wait a while for one of the few buses a day that would take us to Rhoscolyn, so we sat outside The Venue cafe and nursed a coffee while watching the local inhabitants. The High Street had more energy with the sun shining, everyone seemed to stop and chat to each other, everyone seemed busy. Holyhead had come alive!

The White Eagle, Rhoscolyn

After being dropped at Rhoscolyn, we made our way to the beach. The famous White Eagle was already busy as we passed at midday. On another occasion I would have been sorely tempted to see what the fuss was about, but funds were low and we had a different aim in mind.

The beach at Borthwen

For some reason we found the beach at Borthwen disappointing. Most days it would have been perfect, but we had been spoilt over the week. To make matters worse, it was busy. Again, not that busy, but for Anglesey, too busy. The place was popular with small boats and kayaks as well as sunbathers. We decided to keep the wetsuits in the bag.

Ynys Traws

The island of Ynys Traws provides a nice focal point to Borthwen bay.

We sat under a sheltering tree and enjoyed the cool breeze as we ate our lunch, before heading off on the coastal path.

Porth y Corwgl

But we didn't go far. As soon as we picked up the path we found exactly what we were looking for: a sheltered, shallow cove, framed with craggy rocks that would be ideal for snorkelling. Porth y Corwgl could have been airlifted from Greece and no one was on it.

Ynys Traws

But before I could unleash the wetsuits a charming old lady called me over from the terrace of her house. I thought she was going to say the beach was private, but she did nothing of the sort. In fact, after a brief chat she asked if we'd like to see her garden, which happened to be an island, Ynys Defaid. It is private, and the family leave it to run its course for the wildlife. As soon as we stepped through the gate, the low blackthorn was covered in webs, probably from moths. It also gave a great view of nearby Ynys Traws, which she called Rat Island, apparently due to its shape rather than its inhabitants.

T crosses to Ynys Defaid

This short bridge and gate carries the dividing channel. T stands on the far side, which certainly looked like an island and may be called Ynys Defaid.

Ynys Defaid

This must be the most perfect spot for a house. Out on its own spit, with its own island, sandwiched between two bays. As we explored, the red arrows gave a spectacular performance overhead in practice for the jubilee celebrations.

Rhoscolyn Beacon

Rhoscolyn Beacon stood serenely on its rock. Our host remembered the American soldiers shooting their guns at it during WWII, to no effect.

Ynys Defaid observation tower

An observation tower is at the end of Ynys Defaid, looking out across the sea.


After that unexpected highlight, we readied ourselves for the water. It was so hot in the cove that at one point we didn't think we'd need the wetsuits. That thought lasted for as long as it took to get our feet in. The water was freezing. Once in, we discovered scores of tiny jellyfish, freshly hatched I guess, moving around in the cove's margins. Their tentacles were like silk threads and their translucent caps pulsed like Christmas decorations in the sunlight. They were mesmerising but also slightly appalling in their lack of control, near invisibility and potential to sting. Just as I was getting out I saw the mother-ship, bobbing in the shallows like a plastic bag.

Cooled down and invigorated, we were ready to hit the path to Trearddur Bay. It seemed a long way in the heat of the afternoon, but the coastline was spectacular.


Near Porth-y-Garan a rash of static caravans have spread to the very edge of the island.

The Seacroft bar snacks

The final stretch of the coastal path follows the road into Trearddur Bay. The Seacroft offered some much needed refreshment.

Trearddur Bay

Trearddur Bay was nice, but we definitely made the right decision to snorkel at Rhoscolyn. Ironically, as T walked along the beach she stepped on a tiny jellyfish and proved that they do sting.

Trearddur Bay

We caught the bus back to Holyhead and the train back to Rhosneigr for our last night on Anglesey. It had been a brilliant, if exhausting week, that had surpassed our expectations. It had become one of our favourite islands and we still hadn't seen anything of the interior, the north or the east. As we always seem to find ourselves saying, we will have to come back.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Anglesey – day 6: Beaumaris

Puffin Island ticket booths

Beaumaris, why had it taken us so long to visit? Just when we were thinking Anglesey didn't have any great cafes to offer, or delis or butchers or ice cream parlours, it turns out they're all found in one place: Beaumaris. But first things first, we were here to visit Puffin Island, a short boat ride away on The Island Princess.

Beaumaris beach

We congregated on the pier for our 12:15 departure. Adult tickets cost £8.

Sunny and still, it was perfect for a pleasure cruise. The vessel hugged the Anglesey coastline, but we also looked over to the dramatic mountains of mainland Wales.

The tilting layers of rock are covered in greenery. Guillemots nest on the cliff shelfs and puffins nest in burrows higher up.

It was busy out there with lots of other boats. Three kayakers cavorted with a seal as we rounded the far tip of the island.

The trip could've lasted a bit longer, as we never seemed to pause long enough to view the wildlife.

Puffin Island

A quick lap and we were homeward bound, looking back on the handsome island, with its exposed hem of rock encircling its rising mound of green.

The Island Princess

Church Street, Beaumaris

A very pleasant afternoon can be spent idly wandering about the historic buildings and interesting shops of Beaumaris.

Sarah's Delicatessen, Beaumaris

We had already eyed up Sarah's Delicatessen for lunch, and we weren't disappointed. One delicious lamb kofta flatbread and one Greek salad later, and we were ready for the castle.

Beaumaris Castle

We're not huge fans of castles, although we often find ourselves exploring them, but Beaumaris Castle is well worth a visit. It looks like a castle should look, with upright, intact walls, a sprinkling of towers and countless dingy corridors to explore. What's more, you can walk along the top of the walls to take in the castle's magnificent location.

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle

We managed to get a final look at Puffin Island before the bus came to whisk us back to Rhosneigr.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Anglesey – day 5: Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn)

Two buses took us to Newborough village via Aberffraw. From there we took the pretty footpath to Newborough Forest, which borders the huge dune system of Newborough Warren.

Newborough Forest

Clear paths criss-cross the forest – perfect for cyclists and horse riders. The forest is home to a large population of red squirrels, but we didn't see any.

Newborough Forest

The track eventually weaves through the woods and down to the beach.

And what a beach – a beautiful white crescent rimmed with pines...

...that curls round to Llanddwyn Island.

Malltraeth Bay

Another wonderful beach runs along Malltraeth Bay.

Llanddwyn Island

It's only a short crossing, when the tides out, to Llanddwyn Island.

Llanddwyn Island, west side

A clear path runs around the edge and through the middle of this sizeable island.

Llanddwyn Island

Llanddwyn Island chapel ruins

Llanddwyn Island lighthouse
Llanddwyn Island tower

The sheltered beach by the tower looked ideal for swimming, and we weren't alone in the thought. It wasn't quite as busy as it looks because this was a school party on a field trip.

Llanddwyn Island tower beach

Llanddwyn Island, east side

Llanddwyn Island interior

After walking back to Newborough we caught the bus to Aberffraw, but there was no connection to Rhosneigr this time. So it was a long walk home along the coast.

Ynys Meibion

We had to settle for a long distance view of Ynys Meibion as the coastal path took us the other side of the Motor Racing Circuit.


Just before the Motor Racing Circuit, in between Porth Cwyfan and Porth China, we came to our second tidal island of the day: Cribinau. The island consists of a 13th century church (St Cwyfan) perched upon a protective wall.

St Cwyfan's Church, Cribinau


Barclodiad y Gawres

Further on, just past Porth Trecastell is the Neolithic burial chamber of Barclodiad y Gawres. The entrance is closed now due to recent vandalism but it's still possible to look inside.

The sun was getting low as we neared Rhosneigr.