Anglesey Coast Path, day 5

September 15, 2017 0 Comments

It’s rained all night, at times heavily.  Over breakfast we ask each other whether water will mean trouble for us again during today’s walk, from Moelfre to Amlwch Port.  We stare at the map.  We consult tide tables.  We scrutinise Mr Rogers.  We think we’ll be safe.  As it turns out, we’re wrong.

The weather this morning is perfect, sunny with a cooling wind coming over the island.  We set off in high spirits.  The first section is classic coastal walking – the path keeps at a level, close to the cliff tops, with fine views to bays below.  The caravans are safely behind us, and the path’s almost empty of other people.  Moelfre has a proud history of lifesaving at sea.  By the lifeboat station there’s a memorial to Richard Evans, the coxwain of the boat that rescued the crew of the Hindlea in 1959, and further on a monument recalls the sinking of the Royal Charter exactly 100 years earlier, when about 450 people drowned.  On an offshore island, Ynys Dulas, there’s a tall round tower with a conical top, built in 1821, that was once kept supplied with food and other emergency provisions for people shipwrecked there.

We reach Traeth Lligwy, a large rectangular bay of sand shaped into elegant swirls.  Below us on the sand three people sit stolidly in a row on beach chairs.  To avoid unnecessary movement, one has a plastic implement for throwing their dog a ball.  We hasten on.  The men’s toilet in the car park lets you pee and peer at the scenery at the same time.  At the mouth of Dulas Bay, which cuts a deep hole into the coastline, we follow the alternative path not far from the shore.  Wrecked hulls of two wooden ships decorate the lower reaches of the bay.  In time we regain the official route, climb through fields and then descend to the road across the head of the bay, where the Pilot Boat Inn gives us coffee.  The pub’s gable end is a magnet for butterflies.  We notice far more of them today than earlier in the week, no doubt because of the extra sunshine and absence of rain.

After a short stretch along the road the path turns right towards the bay, passing the track to the farm of Pentre Eirianell, where the famous Morrisiaid Môn, Lewis, Richard, William and John Morris, were brought up in the eighteenth century.  The hundreds of letters that passed between them show how relatively humble Anglesey people could gain an excellent education in two languages and cultures.  The letters are bilingual – within the same letters, and even the same sentence, like practice today – and they sparkle with wit, intelligence and inquisitiveness. (A proper modern edition is badly needed.)

Below us we can see the water, and, to cross it, a wooden footbridge standing on low concrete piers.  Mr Rogers has no warning of problems here, but the truth is that there’s no way forward short of swimming.  The bridge has a problem.  The walkway itself is visible, just, but the supports and approaches on each side are submerged under feet of water.  As luck would have it, we’ve arrived precisely at high tide.  In addition, last night’s rains have probably swelled Afon Goch, the stream that flows into the bay. We sit down and eat our sandwiches, slowly, in the hope the tide will ebb.  It doesn’t.  We’ve no choice but to trudge back to the road, walk along it – for a stretch it lacks a pavement – and search for a path along the other side of the stream and back down to the head of the bay.  All this adds over a mile to the route.

Our water troubles aren’t over.  What seems to be a safe tarmac track along the north edge of the bay suddenly dives under the waves, aided by a coast path sign pointing in the same direction.  According to Mr Rogers there should be a route above the shore line at high tide, but there isn’t.  We pad carefully across wet marshland and leap across watercourses, then try to keep our balance on the thin, slippery strip of land not occupied by the tide.  At last a lane appears beside a house to deliver us from a watery fate.

Now the path takes another diversion, of a kind now familiar to us, to avoid a big landed estate.  This one is Llysdulas.  We pass its entrance, marked by a ‘Grand Lodge’.  It’s owned by a holiday outfit calling itself Sage & Sea.  Their sensitivity to their Welsh context is zero – the new or modernised houses around it all have English names, like Mulberry House, that might suggest we might be in rural Surrey – and they have a penchant for killing, in this case, pheasants and partridges.  On their website they invite you to ‘take a day on the privately owned Llys Dulas Estate shooting pheasants, partridge, snipe and teal……and after an action packed day relax in your hot tub in the comfort of your own cottage’.  All very Edwardian.  As we walk away down the hill towards the coast we startle (and are startled by) several groups of the estate’s game birds.  They totter away from us slowly and noisily, advertising their availability as easy victims for the shooters.

At last we’re at the north mouth of Dulas Bay, three hours after arriving at the south side.  Now the route becomes hillier as it tracks north along the rocky coast, climbing steadily before the gradual, lovely descent to the north-eastern tip of the island at Point Lynas Lighthouse.  The path’s been well engineered here, with wooden bridges and boardwalks, and sturdy kissing gates newly equipped by the local Ramblers with extra strong springs (one gate has two springs and is quite a challenge to open). Then we turn west and the coast changes again, becoming wilder and craggier as it faces harsher weather.  The path runs through cliff-top sheep fields and patches of rock-strewn heather and gorse, to pass a spring, Ffynnon Eilian – a sacred site or, according to an englyn by Twm o’r Nant, a good place for cursing your enemies:

Ffynnon ebolion Belial – a’i phennod
yn ffynnon ymddial;
nyth melldithwyr, swynwyr sâl,
min dibyn mynydd Ebal

Spring of Belial’s horses – its head
a well of vengeance;
nest of cursers and poor magicians,
on the edge of Mount Ebal’s cliff

At length we reach Amlwch Port, from where the copper of Mynydd Parys left to be smelted and exported to the world – the end of our week of Menai walking.  We plan to be back in the spring to finish the island.

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