Last year during my short solo trip to Anglesey, I spent a few hours walking on the marvellous sandy beach at Niwbwrch (Newborough in English). I’d been a little strapped for time on that occasion, so always intended to return.The Tuesday of our holiday was forecast to be a hot and sunny day, so it seemed an ideal day for a trip to the seaside. It took about half an hour to drive across to Niwbwrch . This time I parked up in the main car park in the forest close to the middle of the long stretch of sand rather than at the Llyn Rhos Ddu Car Park which required a lengthy walk on soft sand through the pine forest to reach the beach.
It was a gorgeous day and the beach was busy (at least, the area near to the car park) when we arrived. Lots of other people had had the same idea as us so we’d had to queue for about 15 or 20 minutes in the car to pay the £5 toll to drive through the forest to park up, but we did manage to find a parking space. After climbing over the dunes to the beach we were greeted by views of a long stretch of fine sand, a blue sea and the mountains of Snowdonia and the Llyn peninsula in profile.
I’m not one for lying sunbathing on a beach – I soon get bored and burn easily – but I do enjoy walking beside the sea. And there’s a good walk along the beach and on to Ynys Llanddwyn, also known as Ynys Y Bendigaid – “the Island of the Blessed” – which we could see over to the north. Being less pressed for time than during my previous visit, we planned to have a proper, more leisurely, look around the island.
We set off towards the island, but rather than follow the route through the pine forest, we walked along the beach.
Ynys Llanddwyn is, in reality, more of a peninsula than an island as it remains attached to the mainland except for during the highest tides. So although the tide was coming in, there was little risk that we would get stranded.
We crossed over to the island and followed the path along the cliffs
Looking back to Niwbwrch beach
and Malltraeth Bay.
The latter is to the north side of the island. It’s more exposed than Niwbwrch beach and so waves can be seen sweeping in.
Rocks islets out in the sea
Llanddwyn means “The church of St. Dwynwen“, named after the Welsh patron saint of lovers and at one time it was a popular site of pilgrimage. This is the legend of St Dwynwen from the Anglesey History website
Dwynwen lived during the 5th century AD and was one of 24 daughters of St. Brychan, a Welsh prince of Brycheiniog (Brecon). She fell in love with a young man named Maelon, but rejected his advances. This, depending on which story you read, was either because she wished to remain chaste and become a nun or because her father wished her to marry another. She prayed to be released from the unhappy love and dreamed that she was given a potion to do this. However, the potion turned Maelon to ice. She then prayed that she be granted three wishes: 1) that Maelon be revived, 2) that all true lovers find happiness, and 3) that she should never again wish to be married. She then retreated to the solitude of Llanddwyn Island to follow the life of a hermit.
These are the remains of the old chapel.
Pilgrimages stopped following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and the chapel was stripped of it lead and timber.
Due to it’s position close to what was a busy shipping lane when slate was shipped from ports along the nearby coast, a beacon, called Tŵr Bach, was built at the tip of the island to provide guidance to ships heading for the Menai Straits. Another more modern lighthouse, Tŵr Mawr, modelled on the windmills of Anglesey, was built nearby in 1845. Cottages were also built nearby for the pilots who guided ships into the Strait.
We walked over to the newer “lighthouse”, Tŵr Mawr (Great Tower) which marks the western entrance to the Menai Straits.
There’s no light on top of this lighthouse. It may originally have been intended as an unlit marker that could be seen by ships and other vessels during the day, but a light was certainly installed later.
After taking in the views, we walked over towards the older, smaller lighthouse, Tŵr Bach
It’s been fitted with a new, modern navigation beacon, so is used today to guide shipping whereas the newer tower is defunct, other than as an attractive landmark.
Looking back towards Tŵr Mawr . Both of the memorial crosses can be seen over to the right of the photo
A short walk from the tower took us to the row of whitewashed houses that had been built for the pilots who used to guide ships through the straits. They also crewed the Llanddwyn lifeboat until it was withdrawn from service in 1903.
Through one of the attractive, carved wooden gates
At the end of the island we crossed the causeway (the tide hadn’t cut us off – phew!) and then retraced our steps along the beach to the car park.
* text of inscriptions from the crosses obtained from https://newboroughanglesey.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/the-crosses-of-ynys-llanddwyn/