Anglesey West Coast

St Cwyfans Church

This was one of the best days of the holiday which began at St Cwyfans Church, located near to the Trac Mon Anglesey Circuit. Google Maps was slightly incorrect as it tried to take us down a footpath! After scratching our heads for a couple of minutes we realised we could park free of charge… yes amazingly we didn’t have to pay for once… in a grassy area almost opposite the footpath and on the right hand side of the road which leads to the race track.

We had met at the car park and after parking 3 cars, all 7 of us (and 3 doggies) were on our way, walking for about 10 or 15 minutes down a track towards the beach. The tide was in meaning we were unable to walk across the causeway to have a look at the church. The causeway follows the line of rocks (in the picture above) which leads to the island.

St Cwyfans Church is also known as ‘The Church in the Sea’ by locals and dates back to the 12th Century. It was originally built on a peninsular but over hundreds of years, the land has eroded and turned the location of the church into an island.

From the church we walked along Porth Cwyfan beach and stopped for a flask of coffee and cake as we seated ourselves on the rocks around the headland. Once refreshed, from there we continued along the coast path, through a grassy field and then spotted seals in the little sheltered bay.

The coastal path continued to wind it’s way adjacent to the sea, little coves and rocks and we found a lovely sunny spot for lunch.

Picnic lunch spot

We enjoyed this lovely tranquil location as we sat in the soft grass down a small slope away from the coast path with the occasional person or group of people walking behind us. From here we could see the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance.

Our next destination was the ‘red squirrel’ forest and the lighthouse at Ynys Llanddwyn but when we realised it was about 8 miles away with a large estuary to cross we decided it was best to walk back the way we had come and to take the cars! In addition we wanted to check out the situation with the tide and find out if we could walk across the causeway to the church.

St Cwyfans Church

Upon our return to the church, around about 2.5 hours later, we found the tide had started to go out and more of the causeway had become exposed. A couple were there taking photographs but both had wellies on which would enable them to cross sooner! None of us were too bothered so rather than waiting for the tide to recede even more we returned to the cars and drove towards the red squirrel forest…

En-route we stopped in the Llys Llewelyn Cegin Bar where we sat outside in the sunshine enjoying a drink.

We parked at the Malltreath Car Park which was free and also fairly busy. The understanding was that we may be able to see red squirrels which can be found in Anglesey as we took a leisurely 40 minute stroll to the beach…

We walked on… and on… and on following the tracks and Google Maps in the direction of the beach. As it was mostly a track with the forest on either side we didn’t see any red squirrels. And the track wasn’t too interesting either. In fact, it felt like a never-ending trudge…

Malltreath Beach looking towards Llanddwyn Island

Eventually after well over an hour we came across some dunes which led to the stunning, wild and deserted Malltreath beach! A real jaw-dropping wow factor and reward for persevering through the forest 🙂 At this point, we had already walked for about 9 miles throughout the day so three of our party (and the 3 dogs) turned back and headed through the forest to return to the cars.

Llanddwyn Forest with the dunes in front

Four of us were not done yet though… the tide was now out and another 1.5 mile trek to the left of our entrance from the dunes, across the huge beach and along Ynys Llanddwyn (Llanddwyn Island) took us towards the lighthouse at the far end.

Large granite rocks

We were able to walk along way across the smooth sand before heading up onto the island via a small wooden gate and a footpath. The island was formed by undersea volcanic eruptions giving it an unusual look and colour. The only time it actually becomes an island is at very high tide and only for about an hour… the rest of the time you are able to walk between the mainland and the island.

Llanddwyn Island

Llanddwyn Island is also known as ‘Lovers Island’ because of its connection with the Welsh Patron Saint of lovers, Saint Dwynwen. She apparently was a princess in the 5th century and one of 24 daughters of the Welsh King Brychan Brycheiniog. She is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine although there are conflicts about her actual story…

Twr Mawr Lighthouse

Twr Mawr Lighthouse is almost at the end of Llanddwyn Island and you can walk around the path at the base of it for spectacular views. It was build to help guide ships along the southern Menai Strait.

Above is one of many small deserted bays and rocky outcrops at the far end of Llanddwyn Island. By now our little group was milling around, wandering off and setting up cameras to capture the sunset. I spent this time exploring these little coves and having a wonderful time while hardly seeing another sole!

Looking back along the island and to the mainland and forest.

One of several deserted coves at the end of Llanddwyn Island with Snowdonia in the background

As the tide was so far out it was easy to make my way from cove to cove across pristine sand.

I came across the Pilots Cottages which which were built for the pilots who guided ships through the Menai Straits and who, until 1903 also manned the Llanddwyn lifeboat. 

The canon was fired back in the day to notify the pilots and lighthouse crews when it was time to report in for duty.

16th Century church ruins dedicated to Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers
Sunset from Llanddwyn Island

Once the sun had set we knew we had limited daylight in which to get back across the island, across the dunes and through the forest before reaching the cars.

But the changing colours of the sky provided some cracking photo opportunities…

Having walked for the mile or so right along the peninsular and across the dunes it was rapidly getting dark as we reached the forest. We walked as fast as possible in fast fading daylight and were soon just about able to make out the track through the forest. The night sky was clear and stars twinkled above us and we could hear owls and other wildlife around us. Even though our pace was quick it still took another hour through the dark forest before we reached the cars!

Llanddwyn Island Part 2

Later in the week we discovered that there are in fact 4 different car parks which enable you to access the squirrel forest and Llanddwyn Island and one is right at the beach! As we were fairly close having been to the nearby Anglesey Sea Zoo and as the rain had stopped we decided on a late afternoon visit to the beach. This time, rather than the wild Malltreath beach we drove straight to Newborough Forest and Llanddwyn Beach car park. We entered the reserve through the barriers, drove past various picnic tables and parked in the large car park. From here, there are a number of marked routes through Newborough Warren offering red squirrel spotting opportunities!

Llanddwyn Beach

We bypassed the paths towards the forest and took the short exit through the dunes and straight onto the beach. From here we could see Llanddwyn Island with the lighthouse at the end to our right. Dogs are allowed on any part of Traeth Llanddwyn (Llanddwyn Beach) between 1st October to 30th April although there are restrictions in the summer. Ralphy, Kash and Jess had a brilliant time running around the massive expanse of sand. There was a small number of people on this beach, mainly also dog owners but it was still fairly deserted.

The cloudy conditions added some drama on this occasion and we walked across to Llanddwyn Island for the second time.

Llanddwyn Island

Again, we walked to the end of Llanddwyn Island to the lighthouse hoping for a break in the clouds and a stunning red sunset to shimmy through… unfortunately this didn’t happen and there was no sunset tonight. By 6:20 pm as it was starting to get dark we walked back across Llanddwyn Island, across Llanddwyn Beach and to the car park, this time arriving at the cars in the last few minutes of daylight!

Summary

These magnificent beaches and the historic and atmospheric Llanddwyn Island were my absolute favourite part of Anglesey. Based on our experiences these are our tips for visiting:

  1. If you have a day to spare and are up for a long walk with a spectacular, wild and deserted beach at the end, park in Malltreath Car Park. This is located along the A4080, is free and contains some picnic benches.
  2. If your main objective is to do some red squirrel spotting along marked trails for about 40 minutes, with a slightly more crowded beach afterwards, park at Newborough Warren & Ynes Llanddwyn Beach Car Park where you pay on exit (by card). Clean and free toilets are also available at this car park and it is located about 2 miles south of Newborough village.

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