The Anglesey Coastal Path 2014

Day Six: 13th April

Weather: Started grey and chill but a bit of welcome sunshine in the afternoon.

Route: Beaumaris to Benllech - 19.5 miles due to two diversions.


I woke up in a huge comfortable bed at my expensive B&B. The best one of the trip and a great place to be and relax. A good breakfast set me out onto the streets of Beaumaris by 9 o’clock, searching for a shop for a sandwich. I strolled down the main street passing the oldest building in Wales – a small timber framed shop built in 1400- odd. Finding a Spar shop I bought some supplies for the day, even though there were two cafe stops available, I was really glad of the extra fuel today. Out onto the streets again I got chatting with a lovely old lady outside her house. I think she thought I was up to no good faffing about with my backpack – everyone has been really friendly so far with not a note of discord. On the north side of Beaumaris is a an old courthouse housing a museum, a small castle as in walls not very tall, and a tall big wheel – the views over to Snowdonia on a clear day must make the ride quite enjoyable. The route took me up and over a little rise and I had the first objective of the day in sight, a distant Puffin island or or Ynys Seiriol as they say around here. On the other side of the coast was the cock of the coast – Great Orme, with a certain white softness in the early morning grey light. Ominously the cliffs were showing some signs of recent erosion and I soon found out that wasn’t the only place on today's hike.

A short amble along the road led me off piste onto a pebble shore, and I paused briefly at one property to sit on some decking and dangle my sore legs for a few minutes respite – it’s not easy walking a distance on pebble beaches, and I made slow progress – not that I was in a rush anyway. I made decent progress for a mile along a sandy pebble beach backed by cliffs of glacial till. Again I noted fresh erosion and bits of cliff collapse but nothing to concern me until I came to a dead end. Cliff collapse and erosion of path and no way around a small point unless it was low tide – it wasn’t and I didn’t fancy a waist high or worse waltz around the cliff. No way up and no way around. I reluctantly retraced my steps cursing my lack of planning. Fortunately for me the owner of one of the properties was on the beach with his dogs and after chatting about my walk he kindly allowed me through his property onto a private lane, with the words ‘if any one asks, Mike says it was ok’ – apparently the out of town owners are a little snotty when it comes to their strip of lane. A two mile diversion wasn’t welcome but it was better than a four mile one.

After a little road walking I returned to the coast at Lleiniog for 1/2 mile before taking to tarmac once more leading me up towards Penmon. This area was home to a big priory in the past and the estate walls can be seen bounding the land, where they are still standing here and there. Up to the priory remains and a toll for cars but not hikers, some priory remains, a cross, and a rather large Dovecot – details of it’s history from the 10th century on are here . The tollmaster was a Liverpool fan and he must have laughed that day because they beat City later on – doh. A small uphill stretch soon had me at the top and the views ahead opened up to Puffin Island, and the Penmon lighthouse, and a very welcome cafe at the bottom of the road. I had a very pleasant ‘pint’ of tea in the owners mug – he started by offering a cup, then a mug and then this? Meaning the pint mug – very refreshing and always good to have a sit down. This was another corner of Anglesey and another change of direction, turning to walk westward for two days, away from the mountain views and into the prevailing wind – just what I needed on a long day. More priory estate walls were passed on my way across sheep pasture and a mix of fields, lanes and tracks were quite pleasant, offering views down over Llangoed with a backdrop of Snowdonia. The route kept about 1/2 mile inland from the coast and a few frisky bullocks kept me on my toes, and took to the fields about a mile and a half from Red Wharf Bay. Around the base of an old hill fort (you can’t see much – it’s overgrown) and the path starts to drop off the higher ground all the way down to Red Wharf Bay. A ‘path closed’ sign greeted me along with a diversionary map (collapse was in 2013) - so I checked my map and immediately thought ‘feck that’, and hopped over the gate. I saw tractor marks on the path and thought I’m a little slimmer than a tractor and didn’t want another mile or two added on. I was right enough, and even though there had been a minor collapse of the hillside, it didn’t look very steep or particularly unstable – the farmer was still using it.

As I descended to Red Wharf Bay the clouds cleared and it was bright blue skies once more, with a cooling, windburn type of westerly wind. Thankfully there was another small cafe on the track behind the beach and I partook of another very welcome cup of tea. Benllech still looked a long way away, with a good three mile walk along the beach and around the far shore before I reached the massed ranks of caravans. I enjoyed the beach though watching the snake lines of dry sand wriggling away downwind. It was easy walking along the firm sand which led me to another Homer moment (Homer Simpson not Homer – I’m not that deep a thinker) and the distant gleam became a stream to deep to ford without wellies. So I had to retrace steps for 1/2 a mile or so, which led me to a flood defence wall with a concrete top and railings along. A quick climb up and the sea marsh was now below me, with a delightful stretch ahead of me with passing places for people coming in the opposite direction. Great places to stand and stare out to sea. It soon returned to the tidal flats, with a mix of salt marsh and beach sand all the way to the bridges over the Afon Nedwydd. I met a couple along here who were doing the Lakeland Haute route soon, so we had a good chinwag about the lovely Lake District. They kept me company along the coast all the way to the Ship Inn where I had a pint of bitter shandy that really didn’t touch the sides as it slid down, followed swiftly by another and a packet of crisps. The light was lovely in the evening as I walked around the last headland of the day, through caravans before walking up through the streets of Benllech to my B&B at the tea rooms. Luckily for me the landlady gave me a lift to a pub for my evening nosh, and a number of a taxi for the return – I couldn’t have walked another inch.

I did sleep well though.

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The Ferris Wheel at Beaumaris as I wander out through the town

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just out of town , past the castle and up on the cliff top, looking north to Puffin Island

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a short stretch of road leads to the coastal path near Cartref along the shingle beach

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looking back down the Straits of Menai towards Beaumaris. Snowdonia cloud topped

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plenty of erosion along the cliffs over the winter

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which cost me a two mile diversion, as you can only get past this lot at low tide. It's just beyond the track from Tre-castell Farm

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eventually I returned to the path at Lleiniog on the road around to Penmon Priory - see the old priory walls

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old works by the quarry and the dovecote ahead

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the shell of the old priory church

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the dovecote - very impressive size, they must have eaten lots of birds at the priory

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Priestholme or Puffin Island and the lighthouse ahead on Perch Rock. Cafe on the right for a cuppa

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turning away from the east coast of Anglesey and heading west by the old priory walls up to Pentir

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Puffin Island, the tip of the lighthouse and the Great Orme beyond

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must have been quite a big area of priory grounds. Impressive walls

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plenty of field and lanes walking along the north coast at Plas Newydd

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the old windmill without sails at Tros y Marian, north of Glan yr Afon

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looking down over Llangoed, with a hazy Snowdonia in the background

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brightening up as I look back along the coast to the east

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the path was diverted by two miles before I got to Red Wharf Bay, just after the Bwrdd Arthur Fort site and I was right to ignore it. If you can drive a tractor past it, then I can walk past the collapse.

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a very wide Red Wharf Bay ahead

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Benllech is the far side of the bay - it looked a long way from here

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sand snakes chasing me across the bay

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the cement wall flood defence that protects the coast. A delight to walk along here

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very peaceful just watching the reeds sway in the breeze

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this is firm enough to walk across at low tide

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two bridge at the end of the bay, crossing the Afon Nodwydydd

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the view back across the bay, with the hillfort site quite prominent

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still a way to go around the salt marsh. Nice and soft for the feet though

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it seemed a long time across the bay - probably 2 or 3 miles

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Looking across Benllech sands, the rest of the day was passing by caravans until I reached the B&B on the far side of Benllech

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