Having not travelled abroad since February 2020 (so now around 20 months) Chris and my latest adventure was a week in Anglesey. Anglesey is a large island on the north western tip of Wales and is conveniently reached via one of two bridges which stretch across the Menai Strait, the perilous strip of the Irish sea which separates Anglesey from mainland Wales.
We had a wonderful time staying in a holiday cottage with friends Yvey, Matt and Russ and also Chris’s brother Andy and sister-in-law Teresa who later joined us in the house and for some of the adventures.
Day 1: drive to Anglesey and arrive in time for dinner in the local pub
Day 2: local coastal walk from the holiday cottage and dinner in the local pub
Day 3: exploring the West Coast of Anglesey
Day 4: exploring South Stack RSPB Reserve
Day 5: Aber Falls, the Sea Zoo and Llanddwyn Island
Day 6: Snowdonia and dinner in the Bennlech Tandoori
Day 7: Lligwy Beach, Menai Straits RibRide, Beaumaris and dinner in the Beachcomer
Day 8: Bets-y-Coed and home
Coastal walk to Lligwy Beach
Following our long drive to arrive in Anglesey the previous day we decided to abandon our cars and begin our holiday with a coastal walk straight from the holiday house, around the coast and to a large sandy beach. We were staying in a former fishing village on the north coast called Moelfre which is pronounced ‘Molvre’ rather than Mole-frey!
This was also a good opportunity for Yvey and Matt’s 3 dogs (Ralphy, Kash and Jess) to stretch their legs. Beaches in Anglesey are mostly dog-friendly although some of the popular beaches have restrictions during the summer.
Moelfre has a RNLI life boat station which was originally built in 1875 and has an impressive record of brave rescues. Even within the last couple of months, the crew have saved people and boats from the rocky surrounding waters.
Forming part of the Wales coast path, Anglesey has it’s own coast path which stretches for 130 miles and covers 95% of the coast. This was great as it meant we could follow a dedicated trail without maps or any fear of getting lost and whilst enjoying the coastal scenery.
Unfortunately the weather on this day was grey and cloudy but this didn’t dampen our spirits and we enjoyed exploring the rocky coastline as we made our way towards Lligwy Beach. We had 3 sets of binoculars between the 5 of us and stopped several times to look at birds and wildlife.
One type of wildlife wasn’t too welcome… part of the coast path took us through thick brambles with blackberry bushes on each side which was home to large numbers of wasps! And one of our little group was unfortunately stung 😦
Before arriving at Lligwy Beach we came across a small bay with hundreds of stone stacks. I wasn’t sure not sure why people do this but a subsequent Google search suggested this to be an ‘instagram thing’ with tourists doing this for the purposes of social media. Critics say this has reached epidemic proportions which are enough to damage wildlife although the counter-argument is that it is harmless fun…
The coastal path took us past interesting rock formations. Hidden beneath the sea this stretch of the coast also contains several shipwrecks.
We conveniently arrived at Lligwy Beach at lunchtime and indulged in one of the most delicious pasties we’ve ever tasted! The cafe at the beach serves vegan food and Chris and I both had a chickpea, onion bhaji and cauliflower pasty… in fact they were so good that Chris had a second pasty! We sat at a bench overlooking the golden sandy beach where at that time the tide was in. Even in the slight drizzle it was a lovely scenic backdrop.
The drizzle turned into light rain so rather than continuing we decided to make our way back along the coast path to Moelfre. We kept our eyes peeled and were fortunate to see several dolphins splashing around in the bay which was a real highlight for all of us.
Thankfully the rain ceased as we continued our leisurely walk of a couple of miles back, frequently stopping at points of interest.
Back in Moelfre we came across an abstract art sculpture of three standing stones which represent different periods of history of the island.
Later in the week, Yvey, Matt, Russ, Chris and I visited Lligwy Beach again and this time the tide was out exposing a huge expanse of soft sand!
Rock formations uncovered as a result of the low tide together with a stripy sky made an interesting photo opportunity!
This time we continued along the coast towards Porth y Mor before heading back to the car to set off for Menai Bridge.
We covered an estimated 50 miles on foot during our week in Anglesey and our forthcoming blog posts on Anglesey West Coast, South Stack and Snowdonia describe our hiking adventures in more detail. However, this trip wasn’t just about walking and we found Anglesey had additional fun stuff to experience!
Menai Strait Rib Ride
One of the highlights of our Anglesey trip was an exhilarating Rib Ride along the Menai Straight! I booked our trip for 5 of us a day or so in advance with RibRide. The online booking process was straightforward and we booked the ‘Bridges and Swellies’ trip.
We arrived at the RibRide office a few minutes before our 1:30 pm trip and following a short safety briefing, together with 6 other people we boarded the rib. Hanging on tightly we sped off towards the Menai Bridge! (Although it didn’t take long for me to let go and take the short video above…)
Our friendly captain was George, who stopped at points of interest along the way providing us with information at each stop before speeding off to the next one! The ‘Swellies‘ is the name given to this stretch of the Menai Straits due to the difficult navigation in this area with its rocks, tides, whirlpools and surges.
Above is Plas Newydd a substantial country house now owned by the National Trust. Its history dates back to William Paget who was the Secretary of State for Henry VIII in the 16th century. The building remained in the Paget family and in 1815 Henry Paget lead the cavalry in the Battle of Waterloo where he lost a leg although he was given the title of the ‘Marquess of Anglesey’ for his bravery.
George then took the rib close to Garth Pier which is on the mainland of Wales jutting out from a small town called Bangor. This 460 m pier is the second longest in Wales. George also explained that Bangor has the longest high street in Wales!
Looking beyond Bangor we could see the mean and moody looking Carnedd mountain range of northern Snowdonia. This brought back memories of my climb in 2018 to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, the second highest peak in Wales.
We were taken past Beaumaris where George explained is an area known as Millionaires Row, popular with wealthy folk and expensive houses. Back in the 1950’s David Bowie and Roger Moore both owned an apartment in a rather unattractive block which is now mainly occupied by students.
As we approached the end of our 60 minute ride, George took us for an exhilarating spin with some doughnuts, twists and turns before arriving safely back at the pier (and this time I kept my phone firmly zipped up in my pocket).
From the Rib Ride we got back in the cars and drove for about 10 minutes to visit Beaumaris on dry land in search of a pub! We parked in the large ‘Beaumaris Green Car Park’ located next to the Menai Strait and a few minutes walk from the town. There is an abundance of history associated with the town and the above pier was first opened in 1846.
Beaumaris is an attractive little town and its historical buildings thankfully contain many good pubs and restaurants – perfect! We popped into the George & Dragon for a drink which is one of the oldest pubs in Wales.
We didn’t visit but the castle is one of the top attractions of Beaumaris. Originally a Viking settlement, Beaumaris development began with the castle in 1295.
Anglesey Sea Zoo
During one rainy afternoon, having spent the morning walking to Aber Falls, we decided to take a look at the Anglesey Sea Zoo which specialises in exhibits of British marine life. This was a family oriented educational attraction complete with bouncy castle and mini golf outside.
For a cost of £8.25 per adult it took me around 20 minutes max to walk around the various exhibits before my attention span expired and I sat at the end in the cafe while waiting for the others! Personally I wouldn’t bother to visit although it might be a good option for a family with young children.
Bull Bay and Cemaes
En-route to South Stack on a different day we stopped at Bull Bay and had lunch in the Trecastell Hotel… big mistake! Our plans had to change on this particular morning as we had anticipated enjoying a mid-morning brunch in Ann’s Pantry, a 5 minute walk from our holiday accommodation. Unfortunately the chef was ill and as brunch wasn’t possible we made a hasty decision to head towards South Stack and stop for an early lunch.
We found the Trecastell Hotel opened at midday and by now we were all hungry. This was one occasion where stopping on the off-chance and with little prior checking didn’t work… while we had friendly service the food was awful with experiences of limp and slimy salad, burnt fries and a tuna mayo filled jacket potato that resembled a soggy slipper.
From Bulls Bay we drove further round the north coast and stopped at Cemaes (pronounced ‘Kemies’) which apparently is home to excellent and unspoiled sandy beaches. Unfortunately we didn’t see these and by now we were all a bit despondent so rather than spend any time searching them out, we hopped back into the cars and headed towards South Stack (which is covered in a separate post).
Even in this contactless day and age many of the car parks in and around Anglesey only take cash so it is advisable to ensure you have stash of £1 coins handy. You are charged at almost every car park and if you spend your time driving from place to place you could easily end up forking out up to £8-10 per day in various car park fees.
Including the disappointing experience mentioned above we visited 4 different restaurants while in Anglesey, with two trips to the local pub, the Kinmel Arms, a convenient 5 minute walk from our accommodation. This was a fairly large pub so we didn’t need to book. The food was good and while a tad on the pricey side the huge portions were worthy of the cost.
Highly recommended was the nearby Benllech Tandoori and also the Beachcomber Bar & Grill where we all enjoyed fabulous meals in each. Even in early October it is worth booking in advance as we also tried to reserve a table in the Boat House and the Tavern on the Bay but both were fully booked.
We stayed in the Tyn Lon holiday house which was booked with Cottages.com.
The house was comfortable and had an odd and slightly quirky layout with the main lounge and kitchen on the first floor and bedrooms on the ground floor! I’m assuming this was to enable sea views although it did mean traipsing up and down the stairs carrying food shopping!
There was an additional small kitchen downstairs with another fridge and a sink, and also another smaller lounge area. Upstairs however had the large oven and also a large dining table with a big window and sea view.
Chris and I were fortunate to have the only first floor bedroom which meant we could lie in bed and watch the sunrise over the sea.
We had a fabulous time in Anglesey and would recommend a visit if you’ve never been before. With its amazing sandy beaches, particularly Traeth Llanddwyn along the west coast and with its close proximity to Snowdonia National Park, there is plenty to do especially if you are an active and outdoors kind of person. Anglesey has over 40 different beaches however having experienced many highlights we feel we probably wouldn’t return but instead look for a new area of Wales and the UK to explore on a future trip.