Six reasons to visit
Spectacular coastline, remarkable wildlife and fascinating history: the Welsh island of Anglesey offers visitors plenty of reasons to explore
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Anglesey – Ynys Môn in Welsh – lies off the north coast of Wales. The island is attached to the mainland by two bridges, so access for visitors is easy by road or rail.
There are many excellent reasons to visit Anglesey, and so much to do that you could spend weeks exploring: wonderful beaches, spectacular coastline, remarkable wildlife, fascinating history and beautiful gardens are just a few of the attractions on the island.
Here are six ideas to get you started – more ideas coming soon!
Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path
Stretching 200km along some of the most spectacular scenery in the UK, the is part of the 1,400km-long Wales Coast Path. 95% of the Anglesey section travels through designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (now known as National Landscapes), and walkers can enjoy a variety of landscapes including beaches, dunes, salt marsh, cliffs, farmland and woodland. Some sections are also accessible to cyclists and horse riders.
There are many highlights along the way, including the Menai Suspension Bridge, Holyhead Mountain (the highest point on Anglesey) and Llanddwyn Island. One of the most breath-taking sections is the stretch between Porth Padrig and Bull Bay – be aware, though, that parts of this section are particularly steep and vertiginous, and should only be attempted in good weather. It's also important to check tide times, as some of the coastal stretches aren't accessible at high tide – although when this is an issue there is always an alternative inland route available.
There is plenty of wildlife to look out for along the route, including dolphins, grey seals, and a wide variety of seabirds and wading birds. There's also an abundance of wildflowers, particularly in spring.
Considered to be one of the best places on the island to see dolphins and porpoises, Point Lynas offers fabulous views – as far as the Isle of Man on a clear day.
There's been a lighthouse on the headland since 1766. The current building, built in 1835, is unusual – with its tall, crenellated tower, it looks more like a castle than a traditional lighthouse. Two keeper's cottages have now been converted into high-quality holiday accommodation: * and *.
Birdlife abounds on the headland and in the surrounding seas. Look out for gannets, Manx shearwater, sandwich terns, ravens and kestrels. There's also a resident population of rare chough – a black crow-like bird with distinctive red bill and legs.
Nearby Port Eilian is a beautiful sheltered bay with a sand and shingle beach. It's a super spot for a picnic and a swim, and the clear waters are ideal for snorkelling.
Cemlyn Nature Reserve
For one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles on Anglesey, head for Cemlyn Bay in the northwest of the island. In summer here is home to one of the UK's largest nesting populations of sandwich terns – and watching their aerial acrobatics as they fly overhead is a delight. The terns can be heard well before they can be seen – by the time you reach the site of the nesting colony, the sound of their calls is deafening.
Cemlyn Nature Reserve is managed by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. It incorporates a shallow lagoon, protected by a unique shingle ridge. The small islands dotted in the lagoon are an ideal habitat for birds – as well as sandwich terns, there are common and Arctic terns nesting here. Also look out for herons and egrets, and in winter, large populations of curlews, sanderlings and red shanks.
There is a wealth of plantlife at Cemlyn Bay too – the nature reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There is rare spiralled tasselweed growing in the lagoon, and yellow-horned poppy and sea kale can be seen along the ridge. The surrounding areas of gorse and grassland provide excellent habitat for butterflies.
With its imposing towers, wide moat, wooden drawbridge and scenic ramparts, is a fascinating and atmospheric historic site.
Building of the castle began in 1295 during the reign of Edward I. Edward's plans were extravagant and expensive, and stonemasons were brought in from all over the country. Huge amounts of money – the equivalent of around £3.75 million today – were thrown at the project, and the entire population of the village of Llanfaes was forcibly moved 12 miles away to Newborough to make room for the new castle.
But money and supplies ran out and the castle was never completed – and Beaumaris became known as 'the greatest castle never built'.
Explore the maze of twisting spiral staircases and dimly lit stone corridors, and climb up to the ramparts for impressive views of Beaumaris, the sea, and the surrounding countryside.
Bryn Celli Ddu
This late Neolithic religious site is one of Anglesey's most famous prehistoric landmarks. Built around 5,000 years ago, Bryn Celli Ddu – meaning the Mound in the Dark Grove – is a passage tomb covered with an earthen mound. The tomb aligns with the rising sun on the midsummer solstice, when shafts of light stream through the stone passage to illuminate the chamber within.
Entry to Bryn Celli Ddu is free, and it's possible to walk inside the chamber to see the replica stone. Access is via a level 10-minute walk from a parking area to the south east of the village of Llanddaniel.
Anglesey has the largest population of red squirrels in Wales, helped by ongoing action to improve suitable habitat – and the fact that there are no grey squirrels on the island.
The red squirrel population here has increased from less than 40 to 700 within the past 20 years. Look out for them in the wooded grounds of – a National Trust property with 40 acres of gardens and 129 acres of woodland and parkland in a stunning location alongside the Menai Straits.
Red squirrels can also be spotted in the , near the centre of the island at Llangefni. This 10-acre wooded valley is rich in history and wildlife, with ancient woodland bisected by a river. Also look out for kingfishers, dragonflies, bats and woodpeckers.
Green Adventures January 2024
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