Tal y Fan

Last Sunday I was up early and set off for a quiet journey through the M6 roadworks and along the M56 and A55 to Conwy. Then up the narrow Sychnant Pass where I parked up at the foot of Allt Wen. I wasn’t going up that modest, but steep and rugged hill, though – I’d planned a route to take me up Tal y Fan, which, at a tad over 2,000 feet, is the most northerly mountain in Eyri – the Snowdonia National Park – and, indeed, Wales, seperated from the main Carneddau plateau by the Bwlch-y-Ddeufaen.

After booting up, I crossed the road and went through the gate, joining the Cambrian Way, the long distance path that traverses the ridge of Tal y Fan.

The path weedled around and up and down for a while, passing the remains of prehistoric culture from a time when what today is a quiet corner was occupied first by Neolithic farmers, who cleared the forests from the slopes and valleys, and then by Bronze Age people who errected stone circles and megaliths.

Looking back with views over the sea to Puffin Island and Anglesey
There’s Tal y Fan in the distance
Through the gate the path descended, losing height, before climbing back up the fell side
A lonely cottage on the fell side
The remains of a stone circle with Tal y Fan in the distance
A complex of sheep folds. This is where sheep gathered from the fells are sorted to be reclaimed by their owners

Just after the sheepfolds I passed a couple of walkers taking a break on a convenient rock. I stopped for a few moments while we swapped greetings before I carried on. We were to met again later in the day.

A herd of Carneddau ponies in the distance
A prehistoric standing stone. Shortly after the path took a left turn and started the climb up to the summit of Tal y Fan
Looking back as I climbed
The remains of a quarry were bypassed before resuming the climb

It was a fine Autumn day but as I’d climbed the wind had picked up. Reaching the top of the ridge there was a little scrambling up and down. There’s false summit, and I had to descend a few metres then scramble back up before reaching the highest point of the mountain.

The trig point was on the opposite side of a drystone wall that runs along the ridge. I climbed over the stile to take in the views over the Conwy valley

and across to the high mountains of the Cardennau including Foel Fras and Drum that I’d climbed during my break at the end of June

It was particularly windy on this side of the wall – the wind was blowing from the south – so I climbed back over and perched on a rock for a brew and a bite to eat. A couple of walkers arrived and we chatted for a while and another pair arrived, coming up from the opposite direction I’d taken, as I started my descent, following the wall in the direction from which they’d arrived. Again, as on my way up, there was a bit of scrambling up and down before the final steep descent down off the summit into the bwlch.

Looking back up towards the summit ridge.

As I reached the bwlch I saw the couple I’d met near the sheepfolds coming up having first climbed a stile over the drystone wall that had run up, along and down the ridge. I asked them about their route and they told me they’d circumnavigated the south side of the mountain and were going to go over the top and then return via the route I’d taken up. I had planned to return to the Sychnant Pass over the plateau to the north of the mountain but thought the alternative sounded more interesting – and that’s the way it worked out!

I climbed over the stile and took the path through the fields heading downhill towards the old Roman Road. There were good views down into the valley and across to the mountains as I descended

Reaching the Roman Road I walked along a short stretch of tarmac and onto a rough track before taking a path back across the fields near the farm at Cae Coch

I followed the path which ran parallel to the Tal y Fan ridge

The view down to Rowen and the Conwy Valley

I was head towards Caer Bach (‘Small Fort’), the site of a Prehistoric hill fort where I’d turn north. As I approached I spotted a herd of ponies

I made a short diversion, climbing to the top of the mound where there were visible remains of the fortifications

I carried on along the path passing to the east of Tal y Fan, taking in the views of the Carneddau to the west

Leaving the ponies behind as I climbed a modest slope the sea cam back into view

I passed some former mine workings as I approached the standing stone I’d passed earlier in the day

Rather than take the same path I’d followed during the morning I climbed up Cefn Maen Amor, a modest hill, and joined a narrow path along the ridge. A little further along I passed through another herd of ponies

They didn’t pay much attention to me and just carried on munching

I reached the summit of the modest hill which was crowned by a rock formation

and where there were good views back down to the coast and the Great Orme

and the Conwy Valley

I joined the route of the north wales Coast path which would take me back to the Sychnant Pass

Conwy Mountain
Back at the pass

It had been a good walk of about 12 miles on what had been a fine Autumn day when I’d seen more ponies than people! Time to drive back down the pass to Penmaenmawr and then on to home.

Bodnant Garden

Returning home from my break in North wales I decided to stop off at Bodnant Garden, a National Trust site in the Conwy Valley. It’s known for it’s extensive gardens spanning 80 acres of hillside and includes formal Italianate terraces, informal shrub borders, ornamental ponds, lakes and riverside walks, with plants from all over the world.

The site was gifted to the National Trust in 1949 by  Henry McLaren, Lord Aberconway. However, the family still own the estate and Michael McLaren inherited the estate in 2003 on his father’s death and plays an active role as garden director. The house is “out of bounds” as it’s occupied by the family and the large shop/Garden Centre is owned and run by the estate and not the Trust. Personally, I’m never comfortable with these arrangements, but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the gardens.

View from the terrace over to the Carneddau

Most National Trust properties have a reasonably priced guide which will explain the history of the site. This wasn’t the case at Bodnant where the guide was a hardback costing, if I remember rightly, £30. Being rather stingy I decided against purchasing a copy, so was going to do some research online after my visit. However, Eunice posted an excellent detailed account on her blog just a short while after my return so she’s saved me some work!

I spent a couple of hours wandering round the gardens and more or less following the riverside paths in “The Dell” down to, and round, the Skating Pond, before making my way back through the Glades and Yew Garden to the house.

Pwll Trochi – (The Bath)
The Pin Mill – brought from Woodchester in Gloucestershire to Bodnant in 1939
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Looking down to Hen Felin (the Old Mill)
Hen Felin (the Old Mill)
The canyon
The skating pond
The small boathouse on the Skating Pond
Y ‘Poem’ – the family Mausoleum
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Pont y Rhaeadr (Waterfall Bridge)
Stepping stones
“Pwll Trochi”

Returning to the house I visited the Craft centre and bought a rather attractive small porcelain hanging sculpture decorated with impressions of local flowers by Charlotte Bellis an artist who studied in Cumbria but who had grown up in Snowdonia.

Checking the pedometer app on my phone I found that I’d walked just over 2 miles exploring and wandering around the grounds. There were long queues in the two cafes on the site so I decided to give them a miss before returning to the car. The drive home along the M56 and M6 was not fun, but then it rarely is! I was surprised how busy the motorways were as it was only early afternoon and the roadworks “upgrading” the M6 to a so called “Smart Motorway”. didn’t help. Still, it would have been worse later in the afternoon.

I’d had an enjoyable solo stay in North Wales and was pleased that I’d managed to get up on to the Cardennau. I’d also been surprised on just how nice the coast was here and how my enjoyment hadn’t been affected by the proximity of the Expressway, which I hardly noticed at all. Arriving home I decided I needed to return to this stretch of coast, the mountains and the Conwy valley before too long.

Arts and Crafts Houses in Llanfairfechan

Something I hadn’t expected to find in Llanfairfechan were some rather attractive Arts and Crafts style houses. I’d spotted three distinctive white rendered houses on the sea front during my walk along the coast on the Tuesday, all with some interesting architectural features. It turned out that they were all designed by Herbert Luck North, an architect who had lived in the village in the early 20th Century.

I though that this house was particularly attractive.

Whitefriars built in 1933. Designed by Herbert Luck North for a retired seaman
Another view of Whitefriars

and next door were a pair of semi detached houses, also designed by North, built almost 30 years earlier.

A pair of semi-detached houses from around 1906. Designed by Herbert Luck North.

Herbert Luck North was born in Leicester on 9 November 1871. He studied at at Jesus College, Cambridge, after which he worked as an assistant to William Alfred Pite and Edwin Landseer Lutyens. After qualifying as an architect he worked in London before moving to Llanfairfechan in 1901, where his parents lived, establishing an architectural practice there.

Higher up the hill, in the old village, there’s a street of 25 houses, the Close, 24 of which were designed by North. The first of these, built in 1898, was, apparently, the first house he’d designed. The others were built quite a few years later, between 1922 and1940.

House in The Close
Houses in the Close

The Arts and Crafts movement emerged in Britain in the 1880’s and was heavily influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin, William Morris and others who felt that the mass manufacture of goods during the second half of the 19th century had led to a design in standards and poor quality products and that mass production had led to workers being alienated from the products of their labour. The movement’s vision was for a return to craftsmanship. The use of machinery wasn’t dismissed entirely, but should be used to produce well designed, good quality products. The movement’s ethos is probably well summarised by a quote from William Morris

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

The movement’s principles were applied to architecture as well as furniture, fabrics, tiles, ceramics, and metalwork. Many of the buildings designed by the well known practitioners of the style, such as Charles Voysey, Hugh Baillie Scott and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, built homes for wealthier clients but the homes designed by Herbert Luck North were for more modest, albeit Middle Class, clients.

There isn’t one uniform “style” of Arts and Crafts architecture. However, the general approach involved the application of traditional building techniques, good quality craftsmanship, the use of local materials, asymmetry and avoiding excessive ornamentation. Many early Arts and Crafts style buildings were inspired by Medieval and Tudor design but as the movement evolved plainer, more simple styles become more dominant, with “form following function” at least to some extent. These buildings influencing the simpler Modernist architecture of the 20th Century. This was certainly true of Herbert Luck North’s houses that I saw in Llanfairfechan. They were relatively plain at first glance but had distinctive features including white rendered walls, steep gables, slate rooves (probably with slate from the many local quarries), arched doors and  “eyebrow” windows.

Further along the coast towards Bangor,  I’d spotted a rather nice house by the entrance to Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve, close to the level crossing over the railway line. It was similar in style to the houses I’d seen in Llanfairfechan. I wondered whether it was another building designed by North, but my research has drawn a blank.

There are certainly some other buildings by North in Llanfairfechan featured on the History Points website. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to seek them all out during my short break. Another time, perhaps.

Aber Falls and a coastal walk

Aber Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in northern Snowdonia. The dramatic waterfall is very accessible by an easy path making it suitable for a wide range of visitors. The falls, near to Abergwyngaren, are only a few miles from where I was staying and I had them on my list as a destination for a walk. I’d devised a lengthy route where I could walk over to the falls via the Roman road and then return via the coastal path. However, after a long hard walk up into the mountains the day before I decided to cut out a few miles by taking the bus to Abergwyngaren – the bus stop was almost opposite where I was staying.

I walked through the village and then after the falls car park I walked through the woods before joining the path along the valley that led to the falls.

It’s about 1 1/2 miles from the car park to the falls, passing several sites of Pre-historic settlements from teh Bronze and Iron ages.

Excavated Iron Age hut circle

Then, there are the falls just a short distance away.

There are actually two falls – Rhaeadr Fawr and Rhaeadr Bach, the easy route leading to the former.

Rhaeadr Fawr

I stopped for a short while to take in the view of the water cascading 37 metres down from the hanging valley of Cwm yr Afon Goch, before crossing over the wooden bridge spanning the river to take in the view from the other side.

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Another visitor enjoying the sunshine

A large proportion of visitors will return by retracing their steps back to the car park but there’s another option. Following the path from the bridge there’s a route that passes Rhaeadr Bach and then goes up over the moors before descending back down to the village.

Turning a corner Rhaeadr Bach was revealed. I thought that these falls which tumbled down the mountainside in a series of cascades were more interesting than the more popular (and more accessible) Rhaeadr Fawr.

I carried on along the path which looped round to the north climbing up the hill side above the valley, passing a couple of DofE exhibition groups (yes, it was that time of the year!).

Looking back there was a great view of both falls and the slopes of the Carneddau.

Height was gained gradually opening up views over the valley

and, eventually, over the sea

Looking back across to the mountains, the weather was quite different tan over the sea

My route now took me down a steep path back to the village. The picture shows how much height was gained on the return leg

Reaching the village I stopped for an ice cream and then took the minor road under the Expressway towards the coast where I joined the coastal path to walk back towards Llanfairfechan

This stretch of the coastal path passes through the Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve which stretches along the intertidal sand and mud-flats along the Menai Straits between Bangor and Llanfairfechan

I reached  Morfa Madryn and then continued, retracing my route from a few days before.

The weather was much brighter this time

Looking inland

Approaching Llanfairfechan

I walked along the prom before climbing up the hill along Station Road, turning right at the crossroads for the last half mile or so back to my accommodation.

Drum and Foel Fras

My reason for choosing to stay in LLanfairfechan was that I wanted to get up on the northern Cardennau. There aren’t many access points to the plateau but the village is one of them. So on the Wednesday, despite the promise of cloud, mist and some rain up on the high fells, it looked like that would clear during the day, so I took my chance, booted up and set off.

The first part of my route was reprise of the previous day’s walk up Garreg Fawr, except that this time I by-passed the summit, carrying along the path towards Drum.. heading into the low cloud that had descended on to the hills.

As I walked along the path I encountered two walkers coming back off the hills – they must have had an early start. They told me it had been clear up top. I didn’t see anyone else for another couple of hours.

There’s a long stretch of power lines that cross the lower slopes of the northern Cardennau which emerged from the mist as I approached them.

Just after I’d passed them I crossed the Roman road from Chester (Deva) and Caernarfon (Segontium) which also traverses the lower slopes

Shortly afterwards I encountered my first herd of ponies of the day

I carried on along the clear track heading towards Drum

The cloud came and went, bringing intermittent drizzle and rain, with Drum appearing from time to time as the cloud passed over.

As I climbed I gained a view of Foel Fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon

Eventually I reached the summit of Drum and stopped in the shelter for a rest and a bite to eat

And as I watched the cloud began to clear

revealing views right down to the lower hills nearer to the coast, the Menai Straits, Puffin Island and Anglesey,

Foel Fras

Llwytmor

While I was snapping some photographs I saw my third walker of the day who came up the path I’d followed, but carried on towards Foel Fras. Not long after I resumed walking, dropping down from the summit of Drum before starting the steep climb up Foel Fras. The path was obvious but not as good underfoot. There were sections of boggy ground but stepping stones had been laid over the worst sections helping to keep my boots reasonably dry.

The weather continued to improve

The view over to the coat from the path up Foel Fras

On the way up, what did I see? yes, another small herd of ponies

It was a steep climb at first, but the slope eased gradually and it didn’t take too long to reach the boulder strewn summit of the northernmost of the Welsh 3000 foot peaks at 3097 feet.

Looking over to the southern Carneddau – Carnedd llewelyn was covered with cloud
Zooming in
Looking back down to the coast
Looking over Llwytmor towards the Menai Straits and Anglesey

I stayed for a while taking in the view without another soul in sight. I contemplated whether to carry on over the plateau, but decided that a circular route down towards Abergwyngregyn would have been a little too ambitious, so it was time to return, retracing my steps, down towards Drum.

The weather kept improving as I descended

There’s the great Orme in the distance
Looking back to Foel Fras, Llwytmor and Llyn Anafon – a clear view than this morning

Up until now I’d only seen 3 people up on the fells, but as I descended I saw a small group loaded up with large packs heading up. They told me they were making their way up to wild camp up on the plateau near Foel Grach.

On my way down I passed the herd of ponies I’d seen on my way up

Reaching the Roman Road I decided I’d take a different route back to my accommodation. I followed the track in the direction of Abergwyngregyn

and then, after a while, took a path across the moor heading north towards Rhiwiau

A path through the woods then took me to a farmhouse where I joined a metaled track

and then I weedled my way along some minor roads back to the flat.

That had been a grand walk through mist rain and sunshine. Just over 13 miles, reaching the northernmost of the Welsh 3000 foot peaks and back.

Garreg Fawr

On Tuesday afternoon of my North Wales break, I stayed indoors relaxing and reading while the it rained outdoors. At around 4 o’clock I had itchy feet and, looking out the window, convinced myself it was easing off so I booted up and set out for a walk.

There’s a relatively modest hill that overlooks Llanfairfechan, and which was visible from outside the property where I was staying, so I thought that was a good bet for a short walk.

A short way down the road I cut off down a track which took me to the narrow Gwyllt Road near a group of houses. I turned left, heading east. At a junction next to an attractive cottage I turned on to the Terrace walk and then a short distance further on there was a gate on the right leading to a path that would take me towards my destination.

The path climbed steeply and was concreted over, I guess to make it easier for quad bikes to get up on the fell.

After a short while it levelled off and I was climbing steadily on grass up on to the moor.

Looking back there were good views over the Menai Straiys towards Puffin Island and Anglesey

The rain had eased off but there was a strong wind blowing.

When planning this holiday I’d hoped that I might get the chance to see some Carneddau ponies. These small mountain ponies are allowed to roam on the fells throughout the year, even in window. They’re owned by 7 local families who round them up for health checks once a year, otherwise they’re “hefted” to the mountains. I’d seen a herd in the distance when I was up on Cony Mountain the previous day, but this time I was treated to a much closer view .

It was raining further on into the mountains

But I turned left and climbed up the more modest slopes of Garreg Fawr

It was very windy when I reached the ridge and made my way towards the rocky summit – 1168 feet high.

Reaching it, it was difficult to stay on my feet as I took a few snaps of the views

Looking south towards the main high Carneddau range
Looking over Llanfairfechan towards the Menai Straits, Puffin island and Anglesey

Penmanmawr – the hill. The town of the same name is on the other side.

I didn’t stay too long on the summit for fear of being blown into the sea(!), but stared to make my way down. I didn’t return by the same route but descended down into the top end of the small town.

A row of former workers’ cottages in Llanfairfechan

I walked down through the town turning left just after the Co-op for a short walk back to my holiday accommodation. Although a relatively modest hill at 1168 feet, but I had started from not much above sea level. I hadn’t got too wet and had enjoyed my short walk. It had set me up nicely for the next day.

Llanfairfechan

I had a relaxing night in my Air BandB apartment. After eating I watched the penultimate episode of Sherwood before turning in early.

I woke on Tuesday morning to a mixed day. It had been raining during the night and with wind and rain forecast it didn’t look too promising for getting into the hills. I wasn’t inclined to stay indoors all day so decided to get out for a walk along the coast. The apartment was well situated for accessing the coastal path, albeit that required walking along a short section of path beside the Expressway. Then following a quiet lane and crossing the railway emerging on the salt marches on the edge of the Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve.

It’s part of the Traeth Lafan Nature reserve which stretches along the intertidal sand and mud-flats along the Menai Straits between Bangor and Llanfairfechan. It’s an important habitat for wintering waterbirds, especially Oystercatcher and Curlew.

I had a brief walk through the woods, popping inside the bird hide overlooking the sea, before heading east along the path towards Llanfairfechan through another section of the Reserve, Glan y Môr Elias.

Looking over the Glan y Môr Elias salt marsh with Puffin Island visible in the distance
Looking inland to the moody mountains

I carried on along the path, leaving the Nature Reserve, walking parallel to a sandy beach.

I was getting closer to Llanfairfechan now. I passed some attractive houses facing the coast (more about them in a later post!) and the boating lake, reaching the Prom.

The view along the beach towards the Great Orme

Looking back over the grey water of the Menai Straits towards Anglesey and Puffin Island

The beach here brought back a lot of memories as I came here a couple of times when I was camping with the Scouts a few miles away in a field near Crmlyn.

I didn’t take any photos of the prom. Like many Victorian seaside resorts it’s seen much better days However, most of the houses on the Prom looked like they’d been “done up”. There’s a large free car park on the Prom and a cafe, which looked as if it was popular with locals and visitors. So it’s not an unpleasant place to visit.

I walked up the hill along the main shopping street. Again I didn’t take any photos but here’s one from what looks like the 1960’s from the Llanfairfechan Community Hub website. This looks very much like I remember from my youthful visits. Today the occupants of the shops have, inevitably changed but, overall, they looked very much the same.

Reaching a crossroads, I crossed over what used to be the main North Wales coastal road and carried on to purchase a few supplies from the Co-op. I suspect that the the small town north of the crossroads was the original settlement. Other than the newish Co-op building, the shops in this part of the town were run-down, but the town itself looked reasonably prosperous.

I had a brief mooch around the town but rain was threatening so I made my way back to my accommodation, only a short walk away.

Conwy Mountain, Allt Wen and Penmaenbach

The Sunday after I returned from Belfast I received a text from a friend who I’d sat next to in the taxi to the airport and on the plane back to Manchester. It was telling me he had Covid. This wasn’t welcome news for two reasons – I was concerned for his health (and his family’s) but it was also bad timing as I was due to go away the next day for a short break in North Wales the next day. Luckily I have a small stock of LFT kits and tests on the Sunday and Monday morning proved negative, so no need for a last minute cancellation. (I tested later in the week too – again negative so a lucky escape, I think).

It’s become something of a tradition that I disappear for a few days on a walking break during the first week of Wimbledon as it’s permanently on the TV and the constant grunting and screaming (from the players!) drives me bonkers. So it provides a good excuse to get away. This year I’d booked a self catering property just outside Llanfairfechan (pronounced something like Clan Vire Vechan) on the North Wales coast, just below the northern Carneddau. Although in the Snowdonia National park these mountains are not well visited. They’re quite different in character to the more familiar mountains further south in that they’re mainly grassy rounded hills – but they constitute the largest largest contiguous area of high ground over 2500 feet south of Scotland, with a number of peaks over 3000 feet high. Access points are limited, but there’s paths and tracks into the northern part of the range from Llanfairfechan and nearby Abergwyngregyn.

I set off on Monday morning, heading down the M6, M56 and A55 and arriving in Conwy a little before noon. The forecast was reasonable and I had a walk planned that would take me on to one of the more modest hills in the area, Conwy Mountain. If you define a mountain by it’s height (2000 feet or more) Conwy Mountain isn’t one. But it does have mountainous characteristics – rugged and rocky.

I parked up in the large car park on the outskirts of the town and set off up through the streets of the small town, past the castle

and down to the harbour.

I followed the coastal path

Zooming in on the Great Orme

Just after Bodlondeb woods, I left the coastal path, turning inland, passing a local secondary school and crossing over the railway line before joining a minor road that started to climb up towards the Mountain. I joined a track and then turned off, climbing over a stile and starting my ascent up a steep path through the woods.

This was the view as I emerged from the woods

I stopped to speak to a couple of local walkers who were taking a break and then walked over to a rocky spur to take in the view over to the sea and the Great Orme at Llandudno.

It had turned into a fine, but blustery, afternoon.

I resumed my ascent

and approaching the summit I could see the remains of the Iron Age hill fort Castle Caer Seion.

It’s reckoned that the site was occupied between 300BC and 78AD, and substantial ruins can still be seen, with views over to the higher Carneddau mountains in the background

I carried on along the path. Fantastic views in every direction

Looking down I got my first view of the Carneddau ponies – a herd were grazing on the hill side.

I carried on and decided to head over to another summit, Allt Wen

It didn’t take long to reach the top

Looking back to the east, there was another summit – Penmaenbach (that means something like the small rocky headland or hill)

So I thought I’d head over that way

I’m quite familiar with the inside of this hill – there’s a tunnel through it that carries the west bound A55 North Wales Expressway which I’ve travelled along countless times, usually heading to Holyhead to catch the ferry.

From the summit I could see Puffin Island and over to Anglesey.

with a good view down to the sandy beach west of Conwy

Over to Llandudno and the Great Orme

and, looking south, over to the Carneddau mountains

It was time to start making my way down. I retraced my steps and then followed the North wales coastal path route which by passed the summit, skirting around to the south.

At the bottom of the hill I cut through the residential streets, had a quick mooch around the small town centre and then back down past the castle to the car park.

This had been an excellent walk. Better than I’d expected. The views on top were amazing and it was possible to ignore the busy A55 down below for most of the walk.

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 😦

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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