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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Caernarfon Castle

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After a grey day on Wednesday, Thursday was forecast to be a scorcher, and so it transpired. We’d decided to drive over the Menai Straits and make use of our Cadw memberships by visiting Caernarfon Castle. This is probably the most impressive of all the castles that Edward I had built following his subjugation of Wales. It was built to intimidate, impress and also to act as the main administrative centre for North Wales. Some say it was meant to look like the walls of Constantinople with bands of different coloured stone and multi-sided, rather than round, towers. Like Beaumaris and the other main castles in North Wales it was built by the sea to make it easy to reach and supply. A bastide was also constructed, surrounded by walls that even today are pretty much complete.

Edward’s son was born here and he had him crowned as Prince of Wales, again as a mark of authority and to consolidate his rule over the conquered territory. Two other Princes have been invested there, In 1911 and again in 1969.

Having navigated our way through the old town, we parked up in the quayside car park which is right under the massive walls of the south side of the castle.

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We walked round to the entry on the north side, flashed our Cadw cards and entered the courtyard. Unlike Beaumaris with it’s double ring of curtain walls Caernarfon has only perimeter wall. But there were still lots of towers to climb (up spiral staircases) – nine in all not counting the gatehouses with their barbicans – rooms and passages to explore and battlements to walk around.

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This is the Eagle Tower, the fanciest of all of them, with its triple cluster of turrets (you can only see 2 of them in my photo as the third is obscured by one of the others). 

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Some views along the battlements

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Looking over the ward

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Views over the town towards the mountains

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And over the Menai Straits to Anglesey.

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A number of the towers had had floors restored, which is unusual , which gave a feel of what it was like to live in the castle.

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Inside a Garderobe

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Some of the exhibits in the towers

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After spending a few hours looking round the castle it was time to explore the old town. It was getting quite hot (this was the hottest day of the year so far and temperature records had been broken in the south of England – it was not quite as hot here) so some of us were starting to flag a little,

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so we stopped for a brew in this rather nice little deli / cafe.

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before wandering around the streets. There are a few interesting shops including an excellent independent bookshop (where we ended up treating ourselves to a few volumes) and a gift shop selling interesting artistic objects rather than the usual sort of tourist tat.

The old walls are still pretty much complete, but they can only be viewed from the ground.

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I wanted to get a shot of the castle and the best viewpoint is from over the other side of the river, which meant crossing over the swing bridge.

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As I was snapping my photos the bridge opened to allow a tour boat out of the harbour.

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After it had passed the bridge swung back round. But although it looked as if it had closed, it looked like something had gone wrong as the gates didn’t open. After a wait of several minutes the operator walked over and told the crowd waiting to cross that the gearbox had broken and that he had phoned somebody but it would be several hours before it would be fixed. Now it’s a major detour to the next crossing point – several miles – so especially as the bridge was to all intents closed (but not quite engaged) – there was, to say the least, something of an uproar. There were clearly no contingency plans to get people back across to the other side. So it was a case of “people power” as those able to do so climbed over the fence and walked over the bridge. There was nothing the operator could do to stop them. But some elderly people were stuck and would apparently have to wait in the hot sun until ether the bridge was fixed or arrangements were made to get them back over to the other side.

So, a little crisis to end what had been a good day in Caernarfon!