An Anglesey Break, 30th August to 6th September 2014
12 members of East Herts group took part in this year's September break, mostly arriving at Holyhead by train, trundling our cases ¾ mile to the 'Boathouse' hotel. This turned out to be an excellent choice, being nicely located away from the town centre, opposite the marina at Newry Beach, and a short walk from the Breakwater Country Park and spectacular scenery at Holyhead Mountain.
David led our first day's walk from the hotel along the coastal path ablaze with heather and gorse past the castellated ruins of 'Soldiers Point' house to South Stack with the lighthouse and RSPB centre, then along the cliff top to Porthdafarch (for a welcome cup of tea) and across country back to base. En route the birdwatchers were delighted to see Choughs, and Daphne saw a Peregrine but it was rather too late in the season for other species.
For our second day we took the bus to Treaddur bay where Daphne found an impressive stranded jellyfish and very ancient tree stumps below the tide line. More clifftop walking followed with Anglesey's answer to Durdle Door in the shape of the 'Bwa Gwyn (White Arch)' and the 'Bwa Du (Black Arch)' rock formations. We then descended past the coastguard lookout (reopened by 'Coastwatch' volunteers) to Borthwen for lunch and a paddle (for some!). Continuing to Silver Bay we struck north through woodland to reach a new boardwalk by the tidal creek, leading us to Four Mile Bridge and our bus back to Holyhead.
Nigel's walk on the Tuesday was a more leisurely affair as we took the train to Llanfairpwll.... (the place with the long name) and walked through the village to the shore of the Menai Strait at Pwllfanogle, passing the oldest Women's Institute in Britain, founded in 1915 in the old toll house. Negotiating the shoreline at low tide we came to Nelson's monument and St Mary's church before climbing up to inspect the stone lions guarding the railway level of the Britannia Bridge. A delightful path through National Trust woodland then led us to Menai Bridge and the little church of St Tysilio on Church Island with a fine view of Telford's suspension bridge. After lunch at the bridgehead we continued to the town itself for a café stop. At this point rather than continue to Beaumaris we decided to cross the bridge to Bangor and after following an abortive but scenic route on the mainland shore (blocked by a new boathouse and the incoming tide!) headed through woodland and the extensive new campus of the University of North Wales to reach Bangor station for our train home.
Julie's midweek walk involved a longish bus journey to the scenic port of Amlwch, on the North coast. After coffee at the bright new café and museum by the harbour mouth we set out for an exhilarating cliff top walk to Cemaes. Although only seven miles this involved a great deal of ascent and descent so took rather longer than expected! Highlights of this were the ruins of the brickworks at Porth Wen, the lookout at Llanlleiana Head (the most Northerly point of Wales), more abandoned works at Porth Llanlleiana, and the church of Llanbadrig (St Patrick). At Cemaes bay those who were dining at the hotel returned by car, leaving the remaining six to take the bus back for an Indian supper in Holyhead.
After Wednesday's exertions some of us took a break on the Thursday, not wanting a further bus ride! Daphne took the rest of the group by bus to Llanfaethlu to walk to the coast for a lunch stop at the lovely beach of Porth Tywyn-mawr where Julie braved the water for a swim! A nearby campsite provided ice creams, and a gentle walk down the West coast followed before the party struck inland to catch the bus back from Llanfachraeth.
Our final day was originally planned to be from Llanfairpwll to Newborough but Dennis sensibly suggested that it would be better spent exploring the local scenery at Holyhead mountain, starting with the interesting Breakwater Country Park. This was situated in a former brickworks nestling in the quarry where the stone for the 1.5 mile breakwater (longest in Europe) was extracted. After coffee and suggestions from the enthusiastic ranger we climbed the 722 ft mountain passing the remains of a Roman watchtower en route. Unfortunately it was too hazy to see 'five kingdoms' from the top, but there were excellent views of Holyhead itself! Descending to the RSPB base at South Stack for lunch we returned via the Southern flank of the mountain, skirting the hamlet originally inhabited by the quarrymen.
In conclusion we enjoyed a very good week. The weather was kind to us with no rain and a good deal of sunshine. Although late in the year the cliffs were particularly colourful with heather and gorse in bloom, set off by the blue sea, weathered rocks, and golden sand. Man-made structures gave added interest ranging from picturesque harbours and industrial ruins to the famous Menai bridges, churches, monuments and lighthouses. Good meals were enjoyed at the hotel and twice at the nearby sailing club whilst Daphne found a pleasant inn at Treaddur Bay for our last night. Thank you Julie and all of the walk leaders and researchers for organising another successful holiday.
|The Happy Ramblers||Boathouse Hotel, Holyhead||On the Coastal path|
|South Stack Lighthouse||Disconcerting for Swimmers?||Bwa Gwyn|
|At the Station||Menai Bridge from Church Island||Amlwch Harbour|
|The Brickworks at Porth Wen||Breakwater Country Park||Holyhead Mountain Top|