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Explore Anglesey Series | Exploring the west coast of the island

Published on 13 Dec 2021 by Amy Bowers

We’re going on a road trip! Come with us on a tour of the west coast of Anglesey to discover award-winning beaches, a giantess’s tomb, and Welsh romance. It’s all to be discovered on what is Wales’s largest – and arguably most beautiful – island.

We’re starting our tour of the west coast of Anglesey – Ynys Môn to use its Welsh name – at Traeth Llanddwyn, outside the village of Newborough. Park up in the large car park to explore miles upon miles of forestry tracks on foot or by bicycle. This is a truly enchanting place where pine trees roll down to big sandy dunes and a fabulous golden beach with a stunning mountain backdrop. You can walk out to the tiny Ynys Llanddwyn / Llanddwyn Island, at the west end of the beach at low tide.

Legend has it that Ynys Llanddwyn was the 5th century home of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers – sometimes known as the Welsh St Valentine. Now it is home to a beautiful Celtic cross, a lighthouse, some cute whitewashed pilots’ cottages, wild ponies and the most spectacular mountain views. Newborough has plenty of family-friendly trails to explore – look out for its native red squirrels when you visit. There is a charge to access the car park at Newborough, which does have public loos. Newborough is a Blue Flag beach which means it has seasonal dog restrictions.

En route to Traeth Llanddwyn you will pass the ruins of the medieval court of Llys Rhosyr, an excavated site of the 13th century court of King Llewelyn. It’s pretty special because it is the only medieval court of a Welsh king that you can actually visit, anywhere in Wales. Take a moment to stand where Llywelyn the Great (Llywelyn Fawr – he ruled all of Wales for around 40 years) once stood, where he might have rallied soldiers, collected taxes, danced with his wife, or hatched a plan to conquer new territories. A great place to let your imagination run wild.

Sticking to the coastal path, it continues around the vast expanse of Traeth Llanddwyn around to Malltraeth Bay – a real haven for wildlife and bird watchers. On its way, it passes through Llyn Parc Mawr, a community woodland which is home to a large population of red squirrels which are usually far from shy. Once you arrive in Malltraeth, walk along the cob – and if you have a pair of binoculars now is the time to get them out to see how many different species of wading birds you can spot. This beautiful part of the island was a favourite haunt of the well known wildlife artist and Ladybird books illustrator Charles Tunnicliffe OBE RA. It’s also a good spot to stop for some refreshments, at the excellent Riverside café.

After Malltraeth, the road winds its way slowly north west towards the delightful shore-side village of Aberffraw with its picturesque river estuary path – including an old pack horse bridge – leading down to acres of sand dunes. It’s well worth walking through the village and the mile down the lane to get to Porth Cwfan and the beautiful St Cwyfan’s church. The 12th century church sits on an island which you can walk to at low tide (but make sure you have checked you have time to walk back again!). A waymarked circular walk route will bring you back to Aberffraw village to enjoy some more refreshments – or maybe even a bite of lunch – at the fabulous Llys Llywelyn café.

If history is your thing, you mustn’t miss the opportunity to visit Barclodiad y Gawres (‘The Giantess’s Apronful’ in English) – around two miles north of Aberffraw near Porth Trecastell. This prehistoric tomb is perched in a spectacular cliffside location looking out to the Irish Sea. The 90ft/27m earthen mound is a modern reconstruction, but beneath lies a 23ft/7m passageway leading to a cross-shaped chamber that houses the tomb’s most exciting treasures. Among a series of stones are five etched with intricate patterns of zig-zags and spirals, which hint at the site’s significance for Anglesey’s early inhabitants. While similar carvings have been found at Neolithic (New Stone Age) sites in Ireland, the only other tomb in the UK with examples of such megalithic art is a few miles away at Bryn Celli Ddu. There’s no clue as to who the giantess was, but this very special place is an astonishing example of Anglesey’s captivating history and culture.

Want to come to Anglesey to find out more? Check out our selection of beautiful cottages on the island and start planning your trip today! Want to find out more about Anglesey? Check out our whistle stop tour of the Menai Strait, here.

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