The twin lighthouses on Llanddwyn Island, Isle of Anglesey

Fiona Barltrop walks along Anglesey’s Menai shore from Brynsiencyn to Newborough Warren via the beach and Llanddwyn  Island

GIVEN ITS PROXIMITY TO THE MOUNTAINS OF SNOWDONIA, the Isle of Anglesey is probably overlooked by most hill-loving walkers. The highest point – situated on Holy Island, which lies just to the west of the main island of Anglesey, to which it’s connected by two road links – is a mere 220 metres above sea level, but in an island as low-lying as this it’s a very prominent hill from miles around. So much so it’s earned the name Holyhead Mountain.

But what Anglesey lacks in height it makes up for in other ways, notably a beautiful coastline. Its 200km/125 mile coastal path – now part of the 870 mile Wales Coast Path – takes in a variety of fine coastal landscapes: beaches, dunes, coves, impressive rock formations, harbours and nature reserves. Yes, the walking is quite gentle, but for those backpacking the entire coastline of Wales, that’s no doubt very welcome! A day off from the hills, especially when they’re sulking under cloud while Anglesey is bathed in sunshine (which is not uncommon) also makes a very welcome change.

A second visit to Newborough Warren and Llanddwyn Island, a most attractive location in the south-west corner of Anglesey, was long overdue.

On the Wales Coast Path

This was chiefly what had prompted my rather late-in-the-day decision to head over to the island once more. In recent years I’ve walked a good deal of Anglesey’s coast path on an ad hoc basis (the local public transport timetable very usefully provides a simple summary of which services cover each stretch of the path), returning to re-walk favourite sections. A second visit to Newborough Warren and Llanddwyn Island, a most attractive location in the south-west corner of Anglesey, was long overdue.

So having dilly-dallied all morning, hoping the cloud might lift from the hills, I finally gave up waiting and set off in the car bound for Anglesey. An hour or so later I parked at Brynsiencyn, and found myself basking in warm sunshine. I must admit the initial part of the walk through fields felt very tame after the previous two long, fine mountain walking days.

But the views across the Menai Strait to the mountains of Snowdonia soon dispelled any fleeting regrets I may have had about my decision to come here. Even if the hills are blanketed in cloud, mighty Caernarvon Castle is easily spotted.

Stepping stones

After a stretch alongside the water, the Wales Coast Path turns inland for a while, leading eventually to stepping stones across the River Braint: a picturesque spot indeed.

Ponies on Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey

Before long I reached the entrance to the Newborough Warren & Ynys Llanddwyn National Nature Reserve.

The car park here is notable for its three huge yellow, metal sculptures representing bundles of marram grass; Newborough residents used to harvest the grass and leave it to dry which turned it from green to a golden yellow.

The path to the beach runs between Newborough Warren – one of the largest dunelands in Europe – and Newborough Forest. The forest was planted between 1947 and 1965 originally to protect the village of Newborough from wind-blown sand and to provide timber and jobs.

Lovers’ island

Once you reach the beach – Traeth Llanddwyn – it’s no surprise to find others here, for it is a magnificent stretch of sand, again with wonderful views across the water to both Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula. I strolled along the beach towards the slender finger of Llanddwyn Island, glad to find this tidal island easily accessible (in fact it remains attached to the mainland at all but the highest tides).

The island is famous for its association with Wales’ patron saint of lovers, St Dwynwen, the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. It’s also noted for its geology: rock formations called pillow lavas and mélange – an information board tells you more. But on a fine evening Ynys Llanddwyn is simply a delightful place for a leisurely wander. The path leads you past the ruins of St Dwynwen’s church to the southern end of the island and Tŵr Mawr lighthouse: a superb viewpoint.

I was tempted to linger until sunset, but the bus back from Newborough wouldn’t wait until then…

The island may be small, but small certainly is beautiful here.

Fiona Barltrop

Fiona Barltrop

This article first appeared in The Great Outdoors (TGO) magazine in the Spring issue 2015, and is re-published here with the author’s permission. Copyright © Fiona Barltrop 2015. All rights reserved.
Fiona Barltrop is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer, with a particular love for coastal walking. She has been a regular contributor to UK walking magazines, including The Great Outdoors and Country Walking, for many years. She is also a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and available for commissions.