Explore Anglesey Series | A Whistle Stop Tour along the Menai StraitPublished on 10 Nov 2021 by Amy Greenwood
We’re going on a road trip! Come with us on a tour along the beautiful Menai Strait, which runs along the southern shoreline of Ynys Môn, separating the isle of Anglesey from the rest of mainland Cymru. With views across the water towards the towering mountains of Snowdonia, the whole length of the coastline here is outstandingly epic and beautiful.
If you’re visiting Ynys Môn from the Welsh mainland you’ll almost certainly make your way onto the island by one of two bridges from Bangor (unless you’re arriving by boat, or hitching a ride on a seagull). The handsome Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by Thomas Telford, and the Britannia Bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson, are both iconic Anglesey landmarks, and it’s well worth stopping at the A5 layby – which you’ll find almost exactly halfway between the two bridges – to take in these impressive feats of endeavour and engineering.
For the purposes of this blog, and a neat east-to-west progression, we’re going to start our tour of the Menai Strait shoreline at its north eastern edge – Penmon. Penmon Point, a pebble-strewn beach promontory looking out towards the mountains of Snowdonia and the Great Orme at Llandudno, is known for sightings of puffins, seals and dolphins, and you’ll also find the remains of a 13th century priory, a holy well and a dovecot. Just off shore at Black Rock, you’ll see the Trwyn Du lighthouse, which sounds its horn every 30 seconds. Ynys Seiriol – also known as Puffin Island – stands guard at the entrance to the Menai Strait just beyond Penmon.
You might want to stay a while at Penmon to enjoy a bit of peaceful fishing off the rocks, to take in its unique atmosphere (often quite wild and dramatic) or to enjoy a snack at the cute little Pilots Café. The coastal path which rings the island has some beautiful views to the mainland as it tracks from Penmon towards the colourful town of Beaumaris. This elegant Georgian town has many visit-worthy attractions including Beaumaris Castle, a 19th century Gaol and House of Correction, and a pier – the place to maybe join a boat ride back to Puffin Island with its seal and bird colonies, or maybe just to enjoy and ice cream (we heartily recommend the Red Boat ice cream parlour in the centre of town). It is also packed full of nice boutiques, galleries, gift shops and has stunning views across the Menai Strait to the Snowdonia mountains. It is worth making time for afternoon tea at the Bulkeley Arms Hotel – make sure you sit in the drawing room at the back of the hotel to sup your tea with spectacular mountain views.
Follow the coast for a few miles west of Beaumaris to arrive at the pretty little town of Menai Bridge. As well as its iconic bridges, you’ll find plenty of independent shops, and some great places to eat. The Liverpool Arms is an impressive gastropub, and you can’t beat the fantastic waterside setting of Dylan’s bistro, which is famous for its pizzas and seafood. There is a handy Waitrose supermarket in the town.
Keep heading westwards to arrive at the National Trust stately home Plas Newydd with its world-famous mural by Rex Whistler and beautiful ornamental gardens. There is a thriving red squirrel population here, and a nice little tearoom. Travelling west again will bring you to Brynsiencyn, a small coastal village with fantastic views towards Eryri (Snowdonia) and Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon). There’s also a great view over to Caernarfon, with its magnificent medieval castle clearly visible on the waterfront.
Just beyond Brynsiencyn you will find the thriving production centre of Halen Môn – Anglesey Sea Salt, much admired by many chefs around the world. You can watch the process of its manufacture with a behind-the-scenes tour, and buy all sorts of salt products at the gift shop. If you like marine life, you will find the Anglesey Sea Zoo just next door to Halen Môn, with its aquarium, engaging educational displays and outdoor play area. Just a few hundred metres up the road you can meet the animals at the lovely Foel Farm, which also has a fabulous chocolate shop, and if you enjoy horse riding, head to the Anglesey Riding Centre which is a stone’s throw from here.
Heading west again, towards the village of Newborough, you could also visit the miniature world of the Anglesey Model Village and perhaps enjoy a light bite while the kids try out the maze. There’s a nice walk from the Model Village to the famous ‘Stepping Stones’ across the River Braint; venture just a little further from here towards Abermenai Point on the far southwestern end of the Menai Strait where our whistle stop tour will come to an end. There are acres and acres of sand dunes to walk through here, and you might meet the small herd of semi feral ponies who do a great job of managing the land.