Last day on Anglesey

The Wednesday of our holiday turned out as forecast – wet and windy. So it was a day for staying in, relaxing, catching up on some reading and, at least for one of us (not me!) watching the French Open tennis on the TV. Thursday was very different – a bright sunny day.

We’d thought of driving off to somewhere else on the island, but instead decided we’d repeat our walk along the coast to Moelfre and see if we could get a bite to eat in the cafe or pub.

After the rain on Wednesday, the path down to the beach across the fields was muddy and slippy inplaces, but we were wearing our boots so that wasn’t a major problem.

When we reached the beach, unlike previous days, the tide was in. And, unlike Saturday, the sea was calm.

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Traeth Lligwy with the tide in

We followed the same route as Saturday but here’s a few pictures, this time with a calmer sea.

Here’s Porth Forllwyd. With the tide in there was water in the little harbour

and there were a couple of fishermen perched precariously on the rocks

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The pebbly beach

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Getting close to Moelfre now. There was a good view across the calm sea to Snowdonia. There was some rain falling over there.

Moelfre is an old fishing community but depends on tourism these days. It’s a small village, with not a lot there, but it does have a cafe, a pub, a chippie and a siop (Welsh spelling!)

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On a sunny day the cafe was quite busy, but we did manage to get a table outside on the terrace and enjoyed a drink and sandwich after logging in and ordering our selection from the menu via a website – a precaution against you know what. It was still possible, however, for staff to take orders.

After finishing our meal we had a stroll around the village, and then set back retracing our steps along the coastal path to LLigwy beach and then back along the quiet lanes to our accommodation.

We had a relaxing evening then it was up early on the Friday morning to pack , tidy up and load our stuff into the car as we had to leave by 9:30. It was a grotty, morning so we decided to set of back for home. Our options for stopping off on the way home were limited, anyway due to restrictions that had been implemented the day before along most of our route through North Wales.

It had been a good week’s break. The weather had been kind to us, with just a couple of grey, wet days and on one of them I was able to get out in the morning. We chose our week well for the the weather but also because just 2 weeks after returning home, as we live in Greater Manchester we aren’t allowed to travel to Wales 😦

Cemaes

After our walk around Parys Mountain we decided we’d drive a little further along the north coast of the island to the small resort of Cemaes – the most northerly village in Wales. Originally a fishing village, particularly for herring, and a port for the export of bricks, today it very much relies on tourism with it’s sandy beaches and pretty little harbour.

We drove into the village, missing the turn for the car park down by the beach but managed to find a large car park up the behind the main shopping street. I was amazed to find that parking there was free. Makes a change!

It’s quite a small place and it didn’t take long to look round. We walked along the main street, which had a only a few shops (some of them shut down, sadly), and then down towards the picturesque harbour. the tide was out so the fishing and pleasure boats were all stranded in the mud.

There was still some evidence of fishing and we saw a couple of men loading up crates of lobsters into their van. None for sale locally, though.

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Then on to the beach

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There were signs up making it clear that dogs were only allowed on a resticted section of the beach during the main season (which hadn’t finished). But what did we see. Yes, several dog walkers ignoring the instruction. It illustrates the problem that if you implement meaures people are required to follow the message must be clear (it was in this case), reinforced and enforced. Just the same with masks and social distancing at the moment. (Rant over!) Having said that, there were very few people on the beach and the promenade. It was very quiet and peaceful.

We were intrigued by this structure standing on the beach

A little research revealled it to be “St Patricks bell“. It’s one of several bells located at coastal locations around the UK by the Time and Tide project to celebrate the connection of local communities between themselves, the land, the sea and the environment. In Cemaes the bell celebrates the local legend that St Patrick was shipwrecked on the nearby island,Ynys Badrig, where he founded a church in 440 AD, introducing Christianity to Britain.

The bell is rung by the high tide, and is meant as a reminder of rising sea levels caused by global warming. Gillian Clark, a favourite poet of mine, composed a poem for the dedication of the bell and read it at the installation ceremony

Mewn gwynt a glaw,
gwyll neu oleuni,
heulwen, lloergan,
pan fo’r tonnau’n taro
ar y traeth dan dynfa’r lleuad,
bob dydd, adeg y penllanw,
swn y tonnau,
sain y gloch yn canu.

And in English:

At the turn of the earth,
heartbeat of the deep
under the wind’s breath,
as the sea stirs in sleep
under the moon’s gravitational pull,
when the tide’s at the full,
at the twelfth hour
the bell will toll.

Cast in bronze, the colour of the metal changes due to the action of the environment – air, water and salt.

I notice that one of the bells was installed last year on the Stone Jetty in Morecambe. I’ll have to go and have a look some time.

We didn’t stay very long but after strolling along the beach set back off to our accommodation, stopping at the sizeable Co-op in Amlych to pick up a few supplies. We then finished off the afternoon by walking down to Lligwy beach. Unfortunately the little cafe was closed 😦

Return to Parys Mountain

Last year during our family holiday in Anglesey, we drove over to Amlych to visit the “Copper Kingdom” in Amlych and the nearby Parys Mountain – a massive wasteland created by the extraction of copper from what was once the largest copper mine in Europe. The reserves had been exploited from Roman times, and possibly even before that during the Bronze Age, right up to about 1900. Initially most mining was by open cast but from underground workings were opened up by miners brought in from Cornwall after 1800. It’s the vast open cast workings that dominate the site today.

During our recent holiday we were only a short drive away from Amlych so decided on another visit, following the waymarked trail around the site, descending deep into the bottom of the pit.

I can only repeat what I wrote last year

It’s a desolate industrial wasteland, and due to the high level of soil contamination, little life can survive here. But it has it’s own strange beauty. With a range of colours it was rather like a 3 dimensional abstract painting.

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The reserves here aren’t worked out and there’s a possibility that mining of copper and other metals could take place here again in the not too distant future. The pit head visible in this photo belongs to Anglesey Mining, a company set up to explore the potential.

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Yr Arwydd – Anglesey’s highest mountain

Now, Anglesey isn’t particularly noted for being mountainous – it’s quite flat with a few low hills. So I was rather surprised that the holiday home next to ours was called “Mountain View” (we were in “Sea View” and we could see the sea from the living room window). However, it was facing a rocky hill which turned out to be Yr Arwydd, the highest point on Anglesey and which did have the characteristics of a mountain, even if was only just over 580 feet high. Despite having some of the highest mountains in England and Walesover in Snowdonia, the Welsh do call any large hill a “mountain”. And in case you think Holyhead Mountain is the highest point on Anglesey, it isn’t. Although it is higher it’s actually on a separate, smaller island – Holy island – now connected to the main island of Anglesey by a causeway. So Yr Arwydd is the highest hill on the main island of Anglesey.

Well, I never can resist a hill, so, on the third day of our holiday, even though the sky was grey and rain was promised for the afternoon, I set off mid morning to “head for the hills”. It was dull morning and the light was very flat. Not so good for photos. But I snapped a few with my phone for the memories!

There was a stile just over the other side of the road and climbing over I was on a path through heath and woodland heading in the direction of the hill.

The path took me to a minor single track road which I followed.

It joined another, larger one, not exactly a main road though as I was passed by very little traffic as I made my way towards the hill. I didn’t have to walk too far on the tarmac before I reached a track which skirted the bottom of the hill.

I turned up a path cutting across heathland

Looking back towards the coast

There’s my objective

I took a path across the heather and started my climb up the rocky slope

The path through the heather was indistinct and tricky in places and a little mild scrambling over the rock was required to climb up to the summit.

Even on a grey day, the views from the summit were extensive. Everything on Anglesey was lower than me at that moment and I could see over most of the island.

Unfortunately the mountains the other side of the Menai Straits were completely obscured by cloud. It was clearly chucking it down over there!

Those mountains are under the mass of grey cloud

The views from up here would be outstanding on a clear day.

There was a good path down the west side of the hill which descended to a parking area. I then followed a track that doubled round and cut across the heather to a small collection of houses

I passed through the hamlet and set of down a path through the fields – I took a wrong turning at one point and had to retrace my steps.

It was really pleasant countryside with some variation in the terrain

I reached the main road at Brynrefail, less than a mile from my accommodation. It was starting to rain now, but it didn’t take me too long to get back. Time for a brew and a bite to eat!

Only a realively short walk that took me a couple of hours, but a very enjoyable one. I’d have have liked to have repeated it on a fine take to take in those views. perhaps another time.

Coastal path to Traeth Dulas

The second day of our holiday the wind had dropped and we were greeted by a fine sunny morning. So the boots were back on and we were off down the path through the fields for another walk on the coastal path, this time heading north towards Traeth Dulas.

The tide was out again when we reached Traeth Lligwy

Off we set. the temperature was just right – neither too hot nor too cold and we were walking in t-shirts for most of the afternoon.

The geology was quite different than when we walked south to Moelfre. That way was dominated by Carboniferous limestone whereas heading north the rocks were predominantly sandstone and shale, deposited in a semi-arid, sub-tropical environment millions of years ago.

We soon reached a concrete lookout post up on the cliff looking over the sea. I reckon this was a remnant from WW2 as it would overlook the shipping route into Liverpool.

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The path descended down to a sand and shingle cove before climbing back up on the low cliffs.

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As the wind had dropped, the sea was calmer than the day before. We had a brief walk on the sand, inspecting the variety of pebbles that were washed up on thebeach.

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Looking south from the beach with the Great Orme and the northern Snowdonia mountains visible on the horizon

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Back up on the cliffs

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I’d brought my long range lens with me so zoomed in on the tower on Ynys Dulas.

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Carrying on the path, down below was Traeth yr Ora. This fantastic beach is only accesible via the coastal path or from the sea – there’s no road or car parks nearby. It was almost deserted except for a small number of people.

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Looking down to the beach from the north.

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We diverted of the coastal path which swung inland and around the Dulas bay / estuary. We carried on a permissive path along a headland which overlooked the beach and the bay. We spotted a couple of fishermen – I don’t think it was Whitehead and Mortimer though.

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The tide was still well out and the Dulas Bay was almost dry. We could see the wreck of a large boat resting on the sand. I wonder whether it was wrecked or just deserted?

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The path looped back from the headland and we retraced our steps along the coastal path back toward Lligwy.

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We stopped for a while to take a break at this rather attractive carved bench which overlooked the sea.

Interesting rock formations.

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We arrived back at Traeth Lligwy. We fancied a brew but the cafe was busy – there was a lengthy queue and all the seating was taken so we decided on a walk along the beach, returning after half an hour or so when the cafe was a lot quieter.

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Another good coastal walk on a perfect day for walking.

LLigwy Monuments

Our route inland from Moelfre back to our accommodation took us past three ancient monuments, spanning a few thousand years from the Neolithic age to Medieval time. All three under the custodianship of Cadw

After a walk of about a mile on a minor road we took a path across the fields, emerging on a narrow country road. A short walk later we arrived at the LLigwy Burial Chamber, a late Neolithic burial chamber.

The structure with its massive capstone, weighing about 25 tonnes, would have originally been covered by an earthen mound with a small tunnel to allow access into the chamber. The capstone stands above a pit in the ground, a natural fissure in the limestone, and is supported by a series of smaller boulders. Consequently it has a more squat look than many similar structures known as cromlechs in Welsh.

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We think of Neolithic people as being primitive, but you can but wonder about their engineering skills and technology they had which enabled them to move such massive lumps of stone and to create structures that have stood for thousands of years. Shifting that capstone today would require some serious lifting gear.

Retracing our steps and walking a short distance further down the road we climbed over a stile and crossed a field to reach the second monument, the early Medieval Capel Lligwy. The Cadw website tells us that

Standing in a lonely spot overlooking Lligwy Bay, little is known about the history of this ruined 12th-century chapel. The stone structure that stands today was probably erected on the site of an older, timber-built Celtic church in the 12th century, when Viking raids on Anglesey came to an end and life on the island became more stable and prosperous.

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When we returned to our accommodation I realised we could see the chapel in the distance from the window in the living room.

After mooching around the remains, another path took us further across the field and into woodland. In a clearing we found the Din Llligwy Hut Group monument, the remains of a Romano-Celtic settlement which may date back further to the Iron Age.

The remains of several buildings, all surrounded by a perimeter wall, are clearly visible. “Din” refers to defensive wall.  The round structures were probably houses and the rectangular ones barns or workshops.

Although now largely hidden amongst ash and sycamore woodland, it is likely that it originally stood in open countryside.

There’s more information on the ancient settlement here.

Traeth Lligwy to Moelfre by the Coastal Path

The first morning of our holiday, on Saturday, we were greeted by a fine sunny day with a stiff breeze. So after breakfast we got our boots on and set off to take a walk along the coastal path.

First of all we needed to get down to the sea. We could either walk along a minor road, or take a path through the fields. We decided on the latter. It took us across fields and wodland, under a tunnel of trees

and heathland

It took about 20 minutes to reach the beach at LLigwy. The tide was out revealing an expanse of fine red sand.

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Looking over to the north east we could see a tower standing on the small island of Ynys Dulas. At first we thought it was a lighthouse but a quick check on the internet revealed that it was a shelter, built in 1842, for stranded sailors wrecked on the rocky shoreline.

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A couple more views over the beach, looking back as we set off over the low cliffs, following the coastal path towards Moelfre.

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There was stiff breeze resulting in a rough sea with waves breaking on the rocks below

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After a while the path cut inland a short distance as access to the private cove of Porth Forllwyd, with it’s small harbour, wasn’t allowed.

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I zoomed in on the little harbour, stranded high and dry at low tide.

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Carrying on, we could see the Great Orme in the distance

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We diverted off the path to take a look at the monument to the Royal Charter a steam clipper, sailing from Melbourne to Liverpool , which was wrecked on the rocky shoreline of Porth Alerth, which we had just passed, on 26 October 1859 during a major storm. despite the efforts of the people of Moelfre, only 41 of the 452 passengers, many of whom were returning with their finds in the Victorian goldfields, survived. It’s tragic to think that they had travelled all the way across half the word only to meet their end a short distance from their final destination.

Carrying along the path we approached the shingle beach of Porth Helaeth

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where visitors had created little pyramids of rocks and pebles.

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We approached the headland

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and spotted this installation so went for a closer look

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the art work, Bryn Wylfa (Lookout) , designed by a local artist, Keith Shone, is

a modern piece of work reflecting the island’s history – the three standing stones representing different periods of Ynys Mon, the prehistory, the bronze age and the influence of the Celts, while the stainless steel represents the industry and the modern age all set within circles of Anglesey marble, the geology of the land.

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From the headland we had a good view of the small island of Ynys Moelfre

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and across the sea to the mountains of Snowdonia

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The wavs were crashing on to the rocks below

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A little further on we reached the village of Moelfre, passing the lifeboat station where we deposited a small donation into the collection box.

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The coast of Anglesey is notorious for ship wrecks. Ships sailing to Liverpool pass the island (we saw quite few out on the horizon during our stay) and many have met their end on the rocky shoreline.

A short distance from the lifeboat station we reached the statue of local hero, Dic Evans, depicted looking out to sea in front of the RNLI exhibition centre. He was coxswain of the Moelfre lifeboat and played a leading role in rescues of of the Hindlea in 1959 and the Nafsiporos in 1966. He was awarded MBE and two RNLI Gold medals. Retiring in 1970,he passed away in 2001 at the grand old age of 96.

The statue was created by Sam Holland. On her website she tells us

cast in fine art bronze. He stands 7 ft high and weighs approximately 400 Kg. The plinth is a granite boulder kindly donated by Hogans’ Gwyndy Quarry. The plinth alone stands 5-1/2 ft high and weighs approximately six tonnes, making the sculpture an imposing 14 ft high.

http://www.samholland.co.uk/dic-evans.html
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Following the Covid-19 protocol, we had a look around the RNLI information centre

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Reaching the village, we stopped at the local siop (Welsh spelling!) to purchase a few items. We’d intended to grab a bit to eat, but on a sunny Saturday the pub and the local cafe were busy with a queue outside, so we didn’t linger.

We took a different route to return to our accommodation, walking inland to take in some other points of interest. That’s the topic of my next post.

Autumn on Anglesey

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Well, I don’t really need to say that it’s been a funny old year but, of course, it has been. As a consequence, our original plan for a transatlantic trip for our main summer holiday had to be abandoned (luckily we hadn’t quite got round to booking anything). After restrictions were lifted, we decided to try to book a self catering cottage somewhere but were a little slow off the mark and we couldn’t find anything suitable during the main holiday period. I’d taken a couple of short walking breaks in the Lakes on my own, but we hadn’t been away together. J fancied a holiday near the sea, and that sounded like a good idea to me – a change from the mountains. Looking at my work diary I found a couple of options during September and after some searching found a self catering “cottage” in Anglesey which had a free week. So we snapped it up.

So the last Friday in September, I finished work early, loaded up the car and then drove down the M6, M56 and A55 over to the island off the coast of North Wales via Stevenson’s Britannia Bridge (well, the reconstructed version).

Looking over the sea to the mountains of Snowdonia

We were staying on the north west coast of the island, a little inland near the village of Moelfre (pronounced something like Moyle-vre),

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although only a 20 minute walk cross country to the sea near to the very attractive beach at Traeth Lligwy (Lligwy Bay). Our “cottage”, in reality a modern semi detatched, purpose built two storey house, had the main living room on the first floor as from the large window there was a view over green fields over to the bay – hence the name of the accommodation, “Sea View”.

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Traeth LLigwy

We were pretty lucky with the weather. Looking outside as I write this the week after our holiday it’s raining in heavily and it’s been like that on and off since we got back (although it was reasonably OK on Sunday). During our holiday, though, it was sunny most days – just a day and a half of rain.

A windy day on the coastal path
Cliffs near Moelfre

We wanted a relaxing break so no rushing around in the car – we only went out in it on one day, and even then only for a relatively short journey. So we spent our time walking along the coastal path (an excellent stretch of rocky cliffs and sandy bays), pottering about and, on the rainy days, catching up on some reading (or, in J’s case, watching the tennis as the French Open had started). I even had the chance to climb a “mountain”, or at least what passes for a mountain on the mainly flat island. And there were ancient monuments to visit (no, I’m not talking about myself!!!) a short distance away. I enjoyed just looking out of the window too (ignoring the several small caravan sites) over the fields to the bay and one of the ancient monuments (a Medieval chapel) was visible in the distance too.

We were a little worried on the Tuesday evening when we heard that 4 local authorities in North wales were introducing some tight restrictions including not allowing anyone in or out unless they had a good reason (e.g. work or medical). Luckily Anglesey wasn’t one of them, but our route home on the A55 went through 3 of them – Conwy, Denbigh and Flint. Initial fears of a very long diversion were soon proven to be unfounded as you were allowed to drive through them, provided you didn’t stop (with some exceptions that – e.g. if you needed fuel)

So, lots to write up over the next few days or weeks, during the autumnal evenings, to relive my memories of an enjoyable holiday

Conwy Town Walls

Conwy was built as a bastide, a fortified settler town, surrounded by high masonry walls, built at the same time as the castle. The new town was populated by settlers who’d moved from England, probably from nearby counties such as Cheshire and the walls would have encouraged immigrants to settle there as they would have helped protect them from incursions by Welsh locals. The walls are extremely well preserved, running for three quarters of a mile, with 21 towers and three original gateways.

It’s possible to walk on top of them for a good proportion of their length. Who could resist?

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Looking over the southern section of the walls from the Castle

The towers, constructed at roughly regular intervals, are D shaped and “gap-backed”, which means that they didn’t have walls on the inside. They originally had removable wooden bridges to allow sections of the walls to be sealed off from attackers

There were great views from the walls across the town to the castle, harbour and nearby Carneddau mountains

Looking over the harbour towards the castle for the spur wall
a view of the castle over the rooftops from the southern section of the town walls

Parys Mountain and the Copper Kingdom

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In my line of work you almost inevitably become something of a nerd, unable to resist an industrial site, especially a historical one, even when on holiday. So the last day of our stay in Anglesey we drove over to the north east of the island toward the small port of Amlwch , which at one time was the site of a major copper mine.

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Copper has probably been extracted in the area since the Bronze Age, 4000 years ago, but most activity took place from 1768 after The Great Discovery when Roland Pugh a local miner stumbled on a large deposit of copper ore at Parys Mountain,  a couple miles from the small port. His reward was a bottle of whisky and a rent-free house for the rest of his life. That would have seemed like a great deal at the time, no doubt, but it pales into insignificance compared with the amount of money made by owners of what became, for a while, the biggest copper mine in the world.

We parked up in Amlwch and walked over to The Copper Kingdom Centre, in a converted copper ore store on the quayside. This small museum told the story of copper mining in the area. The high point of the industry in the area occurred during the 1780’s when it dominated copper production in the UK. The copper from the mine was used to “copper bottom” the Admiralty’s wooden ships of war, to prevent the growth of seaweed and barnacles and to protect the wood from attack by shipworms.

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Originally the ore was extracted from surface pits and shallow shafts, then by open cast mining, from underground adits. The ore was broken into small lumps by hand, the and shipped to Lancashire or to the Lower Swansea valley in South Wales. The ore was sorted by women – the Copper ladies – which sounded similar to the Pit Brow Lasses who used to be employed in coal mines, particularly in the Lancashire coalfield.

The small harbour expanded due to the need to export the ore Other industries grew up in Amlwch alongside the mining – chemical processing and ship building and repair. The small port becoming a hive of industrial activity. Inevitably the mine became worked out and the other industries also declined, so Amlwch is today a quiet backwater. However, there is thought to be a reserve of about 6 million tonnes beneath the old mine workings. There’s been some thoughts about working the reserves but it’s not currently economic.

After looking round the museum we had a stroll around the harbourside, visited the small maritime museum and had a brew in the cafe, both in the old Sail Loft building. Then it was back to the car to drive the few miles over to Parys Mountain where we were able to wander around the old mine workings. There’s a guided trail, but we didn’t follow it, preferring to wander round on our own.

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It’s a desolate industrial wasteland, and due to the high level of soil contamination, little life can survive here. But it has it’s own strange beauty. With a range of colours it was rather like a 3 dimensional abstract painting.

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the old ruinded windmill standing on top of the wasteland
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