Llanddwyn Island
Llanddwyn Island

Time has finally arrived for our next adventure and to Xplore (excuse the pun) Anglesey.  We have been many times in the past but we believe there’s always something or somewhere new to discover.

Pod was collected the night before from storage and hooked up to the mains on the drive, thrice locked too and blocked in by one of our cars.  This baby wasn’t going anywhere.

Following morning, fridge was loaded, and wardrobe stacked with clothing, it didn’t take long before we were on the road and on our way to Penrhos Caravan and Motorhome Club site.

The sun was shining as we hit the motorway and we eventually joined the stop/start traffic along the A55.  Our expected arrival time disappeared, along with the sunshine which had now turned to dark clouds, threatening rain.  

But, we eventually arrived, an hour later than planned and once a pitch was found on the quite side of the site we soon had the kettle on, butties made and the chance to catch our breath before we set off out the door to meet family for an evening catch up.  We’d also use the opportunity to invite them to a tour of Pod, had to be done, didn’t it.

Rain had by now made a proper appearance and once back at Pod we settled in with big grins on our faces as the rain bounced off the roof with some force. We didn’t mind one bit though,we just loved that fab sound of rain on the roof, taking us back to being kids again and for one of us memories of granddads caravan in Rhyll; gas lights, only the radio to listen to, cold brick showers, earwigs.. ah .. memories.

Sites have moved on a lot since then though, and this was no different. Caravan and Motorhome facilities have a standard layout, and these were spotlessly clean and well maintained, as expected. 

The site itself has two areas, one large main area facing the toilet block and a smaller section, sited behind the office and shop.  We’d opted for the smaller section which the wardens had stated was usually quiet, with less comings and goings.

It rained through the night and we woke up to a real mixed bag, heavy, dark cloud and rain with gusts one minute and blue skies with the odd white fluffy cloud the next. We had planned to do a fair bit of walking but it looked like this might have to go on hold today, we don’t mind being caught in it one out, but to head out into it seemed a bit fool hardy, even though we had the gear to cope.

So, a leisurely breakfast was had at the dinette with our radio playing in the background, still grinning of course because at this particular moment the rain had stopped, the sun was above and we had the stable door in use with a light breeze blowing through. 

Breakfast out of the way we awaited the arrival of family, 6 were expected and with us 2 it was going to be very cosy.  We thought it was doable, as they arrived and slowly poured in through the door, they were given a highlighted guided tour of Pod, each in turn had a good mooch about and eventually found a seat to park bottoms on, including the toilet. 

Lunch time was calling, after much debate we headed into Benllech and headed for The Coast Restaurant, just off the main road running through the centre.  Bit hard to spot from the outside as the fish and chip shop runs along the ground floor and the restaurant is accessed through a side door, upstairs.  For those less able there’s a lift in the lobby.

The owner welcomed us through the door with open arms and a big grin, then into a small open planned dining area fitted out with a modern, tasteful décor which looked out over the bay.  Free wifi was also on offer and this was soon snapped up by all those with phones, including us.

Tables were pushed together, and food was ordered.  Great sized portions followed and ranged from burgers to breaded mushrooms, the big slices of meat pie served with separate jug of gravy were delicious and we’d definitely recommend.

Thoroughly stuffed we said our goodbyes as the family headed back home across the Menai Straights and we took an evening stroll through Benllech and down onto the spotless, plastic free beach before heading back to Pod for a hot chocolate and bed.

Another rainy day seemed to be ahead, so out came google with ‘things to do’, plus, many of our followers also provided good indoor options.  One of those being Plas Newydd House and Gardens and as we were National Trust members this seemed ideal.

Half an hour drive brought us to the small car park and once we flashed our membership cards we were through the office and into the grounds of the house.  The path wound down towards the house and we passed the local beekeeping display, very interesting to see and to find out that the hive can actually live for many years and the keepers on Anglesey favour a locally adapted Welsh Black Honey Bee.

Into the house we went and wandered from room to room, the house felt lived in and there was no better example of this than the library.  Personal belongings were scattered amongst half read books and worn paper articles. Just as the late 7th Marquess had left it in. 

From here we moved to what was the dining room, on display the 58ft long mural by the famous artist Whistler stretched the length of the wall.  With incredible detail and the use of his imagination he created a wonderful painting, especially with Whistler himself in the background portrayed as a gardener. 

The rain was hit and miss but we decided to venture outside and into the gardens.  Once on the lawn and down to the wall that runs along the water’s edge, our eyes took us down the Straits towards the bridges and the Marques of Anglesey’s Column. On a clear day we expect you would have been able to see the Snowdonia Park and Snowdon, but not today.

We turned back towards the house and walked up to the Italian terraced garden, beautiful lawned area with colourful flower beds either side.  The lawn was in such good condition and we were surprised the public were allowed access, no dogs though, for obvious reasons.

As we were in Llanfairpwll we had to find its famous train station, easy enough to do as only a 20-minute drive.  Busy place as there’s a huge touristy shop at the same location, but there’s parking and we just happened to time it right for a spot tucked away in a corner.  

First off, we went onto the train platform, to our surprise it wasn’t busy and the next train to Manchester would be through soon so the obligatory picture was snapped. You can see the name on the board and its translation is ‘St. Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave’.  Try saying either of them in one breath!

Next, we went for a mooch in the shop, huge displays of everything Welsh or otherwise, some lovely stuff covering all price ranges, but we managed to escape without doing too much damage.

As we were doing well with time and rain seemed to be holding off, all be it for a bit of drizzle every now and then, we decided to drive into Beaumaris for a spot of lunch.

Plenty of parking, especially on the sea front and for £4.00 we could stay all day.  Lots to see but first food and we opted for a little Italian ‘Tredici’s’, the Restaurant was upstairs and on the ground floor we had Tredici Butchers and Deli, with fabulous pies, salads and local goods on offer.  Pizza for one and a salad for the other, absolutely delicious and if we’d planned it better we’d of stayed for puds.

What to do next we thought, we looked at what was on offer and decided to hunt down Beaumaris Gaol.  After following the street signs we finally located it off the main drag.  Very unassuming at the front, but in we went and paid £5.55 each for the privilege.  

Sadly, no photos were allowed and once we passed muster with the staff we entered the ground floor corridor of the gaol.

Many of the cells were in very good condition and depicted how prisoners lived, outside many hung name boards providing details of the prisoner and the offence committed, each cell had a hammock and surprisingly a toilet, wash basin and a window to the outside. In its time it had housed both male and female prisoners and only 2 men were sentence to death and hung. 

If you wander outside to the small courtyard you’ll see the treadmill which used to manned by the prisoners 10hrs a day, each slot took 2 men and each took turns on a 10 minute rota.  Excruciating work but they must have had buns of steel by the end.  During the 2 world wars the prison was used to house prisoners of war and its final role was as a police station until they moved to a new building in 1952.

A very eerie place and its occupant's stories were told in detail, it’s well worth a visit, on a rainy day or otherwise.  

Once back out in the fresh air we headed for the pier, ice creams were bought and we were told to watch out for the Seagulls, legendary apparently and didn’t mind helping themselves, even if not invited.

Plenty of people were pottering around and more than a few were lined up along the side with buckets of water at their feet and bodies, small and tall, were leant over in precarious positions doing their best to snaffle a crab or two.  Seagulls were more interest in this and weren’t averse to dive bombing in attempts to steal the prize dangling from crabbing lines.

Back to the car we went and then to Pod, it’s just lovely to drive onto the site, around the corner and to be confronted by little Pod waiting.  She did look very small and cosy amongst the other beasts.

Our last day and we were heading to the beach come what may.  The weather was being a pain, but it promised to clear, so we went kitted out with everything and a basic packed lunch.

The satnav took us on a tour of inner Anglesey and we eventually popped out on the south coast, near Newborough.  From Google Earth we decided to find the LLyn Parc Mawr, Nature Reserve and Forest, park up and walk through the woodland to the beach, that way we covered a bit of everything, this was easy enough to find and parking was free.

Once we crossed the main road we discovered the path.  It was a wide, gravel covered path and easy to follow, perfect for a bike ride we thought and you’d certainly cover the ground quicker.  The walk to the beach took just over an hour, we decided to take a trail off the main route and wound our way along a narrow grassed path that took us through the forest and under extremely tall pine trees which loomed overhead providing some much needed shade. We seemed to have the place to ourselves and the stillness enveloped us until we came into earshot of the sea.

Within 100m or so we broke through the tree line and found ourselves with a sneaky view through the sand dunes to the beach, needless to say we quickened our pace until we broke through the dunes and found ourselves on Llanddwyn beach.

We just so happened find ourselves at an upturned wreck of a small wooden boat and it seemed the perfect place for lunch whilst we took in the huge expanse of soft golden sand.

From here we could see Llanddwyn Island, once lunch was out of the way rucksacks were put back on and we set off along the rock line towards it. Now, this is an Island surround by sea, so obviously we had to be weary of the tide.  We were in danger of being cut off from the mainland by a 200m stretch of water which ran on 6 /12 cycles so we were very mindful of the time.

Llanddwyn Island certainly had a lot going for it, a beautiful shell laden footpath circled the island and further onto it we discovered the ruins of St. Dwynwen’s Church, who is the Patron Saint of Lovers.  Next we passed a stone Celtic Cross set in place to remember those who’d walked the path before us and in the distance we could see a huge cross set in place by Queen Victoria and beyond that we could see the two light houses.

As we circled back round we passed the immaculate small white brick Pilot’s Cottages, a huge cannon placed nearby had been used in times gone by to call men forward for the lifeboat to be manned.

We were truly taken back by the island, a very peaceful place and still mindful of the tide we decided to head back to the mainland and our 1hr walk back, but not before two seals basking in the afternoon sun caught our eye. 

We took a slightly different route back to the car and stuck to the main gravel path, along here we passed horses with their riders, families of cyclists and runners doing their best to complete whatever route they had set themselves. When back at the car we discovered we’d covered 14km so we hadn’t been too shoddy today either.

For our last night on Anglesey the slow cooker came out, whilst it was doing its thing we reviewed our trip of Anglesey and decided we loved discovering its history and folklore, and when we do return we’ll venture more to the south and west coast, as there was a huge amount we hadn’t seen and we’re always very happy to Xplore.