I’ve been off work this last week!
It’s wonderful to have a break for many reasons (family time – jobs around the house -relaxation – recharging of the batteries – etc…) but from a selfish point of view, it’s fitting in more riding than I normally would that makes it a real treat.
Hence, a weekday trip to Anglesey with Steve was arranged. It was suggested when we rode last on Monday (mainly into a headwind!) and with a favourable forecast on the island for Thursday, the plan was hatched.
I picked Steve up at 6.30am and we were on our way. Even at this early hour we were both wide awake and chatty. It seemed like we’d only been driving for a short amount of time before we were at McDonalds on the A55 (a tradition on these Anglesey trips) and wolfing down the usual ‘questionable’ food stuffs!
We were making good time and soon crossing the bridge in fine spirits!
Steve had chosen a different part of the island to show me this time around, on previous trips we’ve always used Camaes as our starting point…
Beaumaris was to be our base for this visit. Once a Viking settlement known as Porth y Wygyr (“Port of the Vikings”) The town itself began its development in 1295 when Edward I of England, having conquered Wales, commissioned the building of Beaumaris Castle as part of a chain of fortifications around the North Wales coast.
The castle was built on a marsh and that is how it’s name was decided upon, the Norman-French builders called it beaux marais which translates as “beautiful marshes”.
We unfortunately found our proposed car park just beyond the town closed, presumably for improvements before the upcoming tourist season judging by the building materials stacked upon the site!
Quick thinking by Steve had us continuing on for a short distance and we soon pulled up at Lleiniog Beach on Penmon. A far better location…
A promontory, village and ecclesiastical parish on the south-east tip of the Island. The name comes from the Welsh: pen (which can mean “head”, “end” or “promontory”) and Môn, which is the Welsh word for Anglesey.
A quick fettle, a shoe change, the requisite amount of faffage and we were off, very quickly following a delightful woodland trail, surrounded by Bluebells and the scent of Wild Garlic. We were seeking a nearby curiosity, Castell Aberlleiniog.
A motte and bailey fortress built between 1080 and 1099 atop a very steep hill. The original Norman timber structure is long gone, replaced by a sturdier stone version at some point prior to the mid-17th century.
The site most definitely has a magical quality to it and is quite rightly regarded as a hidden gem.
Next stop on our mini tour was to be Penmon Point.
A chance to plonk ourselves down on the beach and soak in the atmosphere, annnddd relax…
A massively over-photographed part of the Island, and for good reason…
Rugged coastline, a stripey little lighthouse, Puffin Island (more on that in a minute) and the Snowdon range looming across the Menai Strait, need I go on?!
We sat for a while chatting on various topics, Steve educating me (as usual) with his local knowledge and the both of us marvelling at the calmness and beauty of the surroundings.
The sound and smell of the sea, the lulling call of Eider ducks bobbing nearby, and the quiet of the morning had us both in a very relaxed mood.
Deciding to make today a gentle affair, we slowly made our way back up the hill and down towards Penmon Priory and St Seiriol’s Church (previously passed on our way to the point)
There are a number of interesting things to explore on the site and it is well worth a visit. We spent most of our time inside the church at the back of the priory ruins. Open to all visitors it is a magical little place, with some very nice stained glass to marvel at. Arches and carvings from the 11th & 12th centuries, and a Celtic Cross of the same period on display in a room at the rear.
Back on two wheels the next stop would be Beaumaris town, for coffee and cake. (Well, we had ridden 8 miles after all!)
This early sustenance stop proved to be well timed, as the road we took out of town was a pig, beautiful, but a pig none the less!
The first of a few 25% climbs that we were to inevitably encounter. We took our time with it however, and after a small amount of huffing & chuffing, we were soon on the top and savouring yet more lovely views. We were heading for Llanddona and on, towards the exhilarating descent into Red Wharf Bay.
Another beach, and another stop…
More time was whiled away here. Enjoying the open space and idle chat, both in mindful agreement that relaxation was the order of the day. Plenty of time for some beach combing to collect some interesting treasures for my little boy, although the extra weight in my Carradice probably wasn’t the best idea..!
The prospect of yet another pig to tackle on the way out of the Bay was also good reason to take a contemplative rest! Given the choice of two possible routes, we decided to go for the 25% climb rather than the 35% option!!! 😉
With sunshine and stunning views keeping morale just above a critical level, we made it to the top. Albeit now with tiring legs!
Much more agreeable gradients finally resumed, as did a more respectable pace and we were soon gently looping around, into the afternoon and on our way back in the direction of Beaumaris. Absolutely stunning sea views all around and a veritable feast of the fabled #grassupthemiddle delighted us now, as did a beautiful little church hidden away just off the main road.
At just after 1pm we were feeling happy with our progress so far, but after an early start, some formidable climbs and the mixture of strong sunshine and cool winds we were starting to discuss whether either of us were ready for fish & chips yet? It didn’t take long to figure out the answer! We eventually swung back down into Beaumaris town, now filling up considerably thanks to the Easter Holidays.
Fish, chips, peas and a can of D&B twice was swiftly procured from Neptune Bistro on the high street. Lunch was safely stowed in the trusty basket and we headed out of town and away from the crowds, aiming for the bench at our parking spot back at Lleiniog Beach.
After our hearty (and bloody lovely!) lunch we sat and lingered, looking out over the Menai Strait with the snow dusted peaks of the Snowdon range in the distance. Steve was eyeing the Strait keenly, on the hunt for the elusive harbour porpoise that are known to inhabit these waters. No porpoise today sadly, but plenty of good memories to take with us on the journey home.
Away just before 3pm to beat the traffic we were home by 5pm. It was an absolutely splendid mini adventure!
So good in fact, I bought a tea towel 🙂
Words and some pictures – Paul Rance
Really good pictures – Steve Makin