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!

Return to Niwbwrch beach and Ynys Llanddwyn

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Last year during my short solo trip to Anglesey, I spent a few hours walking on the marvellous sandy beach at Niwbwrch (Newborough in English). I’d been a little strapped for time on that occasion, so always intended to return.The Tuesday of our holiday was forecast to be a hot and sunny day, so it seemed an ideal day for a trip to the seaside. It took about half an hour to drive across to Niwbwrch . This time I parked up in the main car park in the forest close to the middle of the long stretch of sand rather than at the Llyn Rhos Ddu Car Park which required a lengthy walk on soft sand through the pine forest to reach the beach.

It was a gorgeous day and the beach was busy (at least, the area near to the car park) when we arrived. Lots of other people had had the same idea as us so we’d had to queue for about 15 or 20 minutes in the car to pay the £5 toll to drive through the forest to park up, but we did manage to find a parking space. After climbing over the dunes to the beach we were greeted by views of a long stretch of fine sand, a blue sea and the mountains of Snowdonia and the Llyn peninsula in profile.

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I’m not one for lying sunbathing on a beach – I soon get bored and burn easily – but I do enjoy walking beside the sea. And there’s a good walk along the beach and on to Ynys Llanddwyn, also known as Ynys Y Bendigaid – “the Island of the Blessed” – which we could see over to the north. Being less pressed for time than during my previous visit, we planned to have a proper, more leisurely, look around the island.

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We set off towards the island, but rather than follow the route through the pine forest, we walked along the beach.

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Ynys Llanddwyn is, in reality, more of a peninsula than an island as it remains attached to the mainland except for during the highest tides. So although the tide was coming in, there was little risk that we would get stranded.

We crossed over to the island and followed the path along the cliffs

Looking back to Niwbwrch beach

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and Malltraeth Bay.

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The latter is to the north side of the island. It’s more exposed than Niwbwrch beach and so waves can be seen sweeping in.

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Rocks islets out in the sea

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Llanddwyn means “The church of St. Dwynwen“, named after the Welsh patron saint of lovers and at one time it was a popular site of pilgrimage. This is the legend of St Dwynwen from the Anglesey History website

Dwynwen lived during the 5th century AD and was one of 24 daughters of St. Brychan, a Welsh prince of Brycheiniog (Brecon). She fell in love with a young man named Maelon, but rejected his advances. This, depending on which story you read, was either because she wished to remain chaste and become a nun or because her father wished her to marry another. She prayed to be released from the unhappy love and dreamed that she was given a potion to do this. However, the potion turned Maelon to ice. She then prayed that she be granted three wishes: 1) that Maelon be revived, 2) that all true lovers find happiness, and 3) that she should never again wish to be married. She then retreated to the solitude of Llanddwyn Island to follow the life of a hermit.

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A Celtic cross, a memorial to the pilgrims, with the inscription “they lie around did living tread, this sacred ground now silent – dead“. *
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These are the remains of the old chapel.

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Pilgrimages stopped following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII and the chapel was stripped of it lead and timber.

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A second, plain cross – “Dwynwen“; “in the sixtieth year of Queen Victoria 1897 ” ; “in memory of St Dwynwen Jan 25th 1465“; and, “erected by the Hon F G Wynn owner of the isle“. *
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Due to it’s position close to what was a busy shipping lane when slate was shipped from ports along the nearby coast, a beacon, called Tŵr Bach, was built at the tip of the island to provide guidance to ships heading for the Menai Straits. Another more modern lighthouse, Tŵr Mawr, modelled on the windmills of Anglesey, was built nearby in 1845. Cottages were also built nearby for the pilots who guided ships into the Strait.

We walked over to the newer “lighthouse”, Tŵr Mawr (Great Tower) which marks the western entrance to the Menai Straits.

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There’s no light on top of this lighthouse. It may originally have been intended as an unlit marker that could be seen by ships and other vessels during the day, but a light was certainly installed later.

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After taking in the views, we walked over towards the older, smaller lighthouse, Tŵr Bach

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It’s been fitted with a new, modern navigation beacon, so is used today to guide shipping whereas the newer tower is defunct, other than as an attractive landmark.

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Looking back towards Tŵr Mawr . Both of the memorial crosses can be seen over to the right of the photo

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A short walk from the tower took us to the row of whitewashed houses that had been built for the pilots who used to guide ships through the straits. They also crewed the Llanddwyn lifeboat until it was withdrawn from service in 1903.

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We set off back down the island. Looking back:

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Through one of the attractive, carved wooden gates

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At the end of the island we crossed the causeway (the tide hadn’t cut us off – phew!) and then retraced our steps along the beach to the car park.

* text of inscriptions from the crosses obtained from https://newboroughanglesey.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/the-crosses-of-ynys-llanddwyn/

Beaumaris Castle

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After spending the first night in our holiday apartment, we decided that we’d visit Beaumaris and its castle. We’d signed up to Cadw (the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage) so wanted to take advantage of our membership.

Rather than drive, we decided to walk the 3 or 4 miles along the Anglesey coastal path, which passed the top of the drive and went over to Beamaris along quiet lanes and through fields. It was relatively easy going – the hardest part was a steep final descent into the town – and took us just over an hour. We arrived after midday so it was time to grab something to eat.

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Beaumaris is quite a small town. The reason for it’s existence is the castle which was the last of the fortresses built for Edward I in North Wales to keep control over the newly conquered territory.

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Starting in 1295, the castle was built on marsh land at a strategic position at the eastern entry to the Menai Straits. The name of the settlement comes from Norman-French beaux marais, which translates as “beautiful marshes”. As with Edward’s other Welsh castles, a fortified bastide was also built alongside the fortress. Nothing remains today of the town’s fortification, but the original, rectangular grid street pattern is still evident in the old part of the town.

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Bastides were populated by English settlers – the Welsh were permitted to visit during the day and were forbidden to trade. Locals from the nearby Welsh settlement of Llanfaes were forcibly removed miles away to  the west of Anglesey, and settled in a new town, appropriately named “Newborough”. 

Beaumaris was the last of Edward’s Welsh castles. It was designed as a “state of the art” fortress with a symmetrical concentric “walls within walls” design, with four successive lines of fortifications.

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It’s considered to be the most perfect example of a concentric castle. However, it was never completed as Edward was distracted by wars with the Scots and the builders ran out of money. So it looks rather squat as the towers were never built to their full height. Nevertheless, it is still a rather impressive structure today and must have been intimidating to the locals during the 13th Century .

Our Cadw membership meant we had free entry into the castle plus a 10% discount on the guide book. There’s plenty to see and it’s possible to walk around a substantial part of the battlements which have commanding views of the Menai Straits and the town and over to the mountains of Snowdonia. It was a warm day, but rather grey and windy. The light was rather “flat” so my photos don’t do full justice to the majesty of the castle and the views.

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When the castle was built, the sea would have come right up to the south gate (land has been reclaimed from the sea since then) so that it could be supplied by sea.

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The outer walls were surrounded by a moat, and this has been restored so visitors can gain an impression of how it would have originally looked.

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The castle is built from local stone – different types were used and laid out to give a chequerboard effect.

The huge turrets – 16 in total – are regularly spaced around the walls.

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There were massive fortified gate houses in the north and the south walls.

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The “inner ward” contained the domestic buildings and accommodation for the garrison.

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Very little of these “everyday” structures remain, although we were able to visit the chapel

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Very attractive modern stained glass windows have been installed in the chapel.

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A little research afterwards revealed that they were created for Cadw by two Welsh artists – Linda Norris and Rachel Phillips, working as the Creative Partnership, Studio Melyn. On her website, which includes some good photos of the glass, Linda tells us that

We used the plan of the castle, large in scale and centralized within the window layout, as an underlying structure for the windows into which areas of colour and detail was placed. The patterns and colours reference medieval manuscripts, musical notation, coinage, heraldry and the marks of the masons who built the castle.

There are some other photos on the Studio Melyn website.

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Nyth y Fran

After we left Ruthin we drove down the Vale of Clwyd to St Asaph where we picked up the A55. The holiday traffic had died down by then so it took less than an hour driving down the coast road and over the Britannia bridge onto Anglesey. It was only a short drive then over to our apartment which was about half way between Menai Bridge and Beaumaris.

Nyth y Fran (Welsh for bird’s nest) was on the very top floor of Bryn Mel Manor, a large house that had been built in the late 19th century for William Imrie of the White Star Shipping Company (owners of the Titanic).

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We’d chosen well. The house is sited on top of the hill overlooking the Menai Straits and being on the top floor we had particularly good views over the water towards Bangor and its Victorian pier with the mountains of Snowdonia stretched out behind.

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Our apartment occupied the left hand half of the top floor (effectively in the attic) and the windows from the living room, kitchen both bedrooms and the en-suite bathroom all looked over the water and the mountains.

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I never tired of the view which changed with the weather and the time of day.

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The apartment was beautifully fitted out with all mod cons – you just had to be careful not to bang your head where, being in the roof, the ceiling sloped down.

We had two very hot, sunny days during our stay, otherwise it was cloudy and, sometimes, quite windy. But we didn’t really have any rain. So we were able to get out and about. Although we filled our time, there was a lot more we could have seen and done. A week really wasn’t long enough.