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An Island Full of Surprises

Anglesey is a perfect spot for family holidays with wide, sandy beaches and natural harbours where the family can relax together.  Sailing is a very popular pastime on the island, and you will find plenty of places with slipways for your own boat.  Avoid the fast running currents of the Menai Straits themselves unless you are properly equipped and trained.

With the A55 now dual carriageway all the way from the outskirts of Chester to Holyhead  the Isle of Anglesey, has never been easier to reach.  Follow the A55 from Chester and you can't miss the larger, Britannia Bridge over the Straights and onto the Island.  This is a great help as the smaller, and more attractive, Menai Bridge is not suitable for wide vehicles which really does mean no caravans or motorhomes.  So stay on the road right to the end of the Island where Holyhead provides the regular ferry service to Dublin, the fastest of which takes just over an hour and a half to complete the voyage.

There is a very impressive footbridge leading from the pedestrianised centre of the town across the busy A55 to the railway station and the ferries.  The town is undergoing something of a facelift with the pedestrianisation of the main shopping streets, where you will find some family run cafes and an excellent family butcher.

The town of Holyhead has a long and interesting history which can be traced at the Maritime Museum.  However there are pre-historic sites near to Holyhead including burial chambers at Barcloddiad Yr Gawres and a church in the sea at Porth Cwyfan, which might claim your time.  The very energetic would be well rewarded by a visit to the South Stack lighthouse, but be warned it is not a gentle stroll.

The A 55 effectively divides the island in two, both sides offering plenty for the visitor.  Anglesey's beaches and natural harbours provide plenty of opportunities for fishing and sailing, or just strolling along the coast.  The A5025 creates a simple route through the northern part of the island.  Heading North from Holyhead, you may notice the odd fighter, or more usually a pair.  The planes  are based at RAF Valley which is where Prince William was based with his air-sea rescue helicopter.  its a busy base and you will see aircraft coming and going regularly.

The Island boasts many circular walks, the greatest of which is the 125 miles long Coastal Path.  Maps are available to download.  Access the coastal path from almost any of the villages and towns around the coast, using the A5025 as the circular road around the nothern part of the Island. 

Amlwch roughly equidisant between Holyhead and Beaumaris, makes a good stopping and shopping point. There is a very pleasant walk from Amlwych Harbour to Point Lynas, along a short section of the Coastal Path. Here you will also find The Copper Kingdom Heritage Centre which opened in 2014 telling the story of copper from the Bronze age to the present day. If time permits, you may enjoy exploring the industrial workings on Parys Mountain, or continuing along the coastal path to Bull Bay.  In the town you will find plenty of places for a meal and butchers serving locally bred lamb.

Most of Anglesey's attractions are grouped around the western end, with something for everyone to enjoy.  Beaumaris Castle makes for an interesting visit. Intended as one of the ring of castles protecting North Wales, it was never finished as funds ran out. Today it is a world heritage site, providing a feel of the life and times of Edward 1.  It is one of the most complete castles open to visitors throughout the year, but check opening times as they do vary with the seasons.  Entrance charges are very reasonable indeed.

Heading back towards the A55 you will encounter the town of Menai Bridge.Check out the history of the bridges connecting Anglesey with the rest of Gwynedd at the Menai Heritage, Thomas Telford Centre.  You just might be surprised at how recent the connections to the mainland are.

Walk down into the harbour area where you get the best views of the original bridge.Spare time to walk through the town itself, which is host to a sea food festival over the August Bank Holiday weekend each year.

Several companies offer boat trips which start in the harbour.  You have a choice of craft, length of trip and if your luck is in you just might get a glimpse of seals and dolphins.

The Menai Straight boasts some of the best mussel and oyster beds in Europe - so good that the majority of the production of mussels is exported to France where Moules are such a popular dish.  Try not to leave Anglesey without tasting the local Menai Mussel, either directly from the farm, or at one of the specialist restaurants in the town and across the island.  You can buy fresh mussels at outlets across Anglesey, and they are really easy to cook.

Turn right as you regain the A55 and keep a sharp eye open for the junction leading to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  Its usually signposted Llanfairpwll.  Now you are so close, it just has to be done.  Park at the station for the regulation photo.  Believe it or not, this is still a mainline station on the route between Holyhead and Manchester, with modern trains running regularly.  Take a little time to explore the village and perhaps enjoy an ice cream or lunch in the pub.

Llanfairpwll is also home to Plas Newydd, a National Trust property with beautiful gardens and views across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia.  The house, shop and tearoom are open every day during the summer, but check times.to avoid disappointment.

Head south on the A4080 to explore the southern part of the island. The first town you will encounter is Brynsiencyn where the Sea Zoo and Foel Farm Park are located, both of which are sure to be a great hit with the children as a holiday treat.  Further along the south coast are the popular beaches at Newborough, Aberffraw and Rosneigr.

Any of the villages and towns on the island make a great base for a holiday, but the county town, Llangefni, roughly in the middle, is one of the best.  Nowhere is far away by car or bike.  You will even find horse-riding and pony-trekking centres dotted around the island, catering for all ages and abilities. The town of Llangefni dates back to Tudor times since when it became an important market town.  Events run regularly in the town, which still boasts a market and a regular farmers market.

Enjoy your visit to Anglesey.

 

 

Last updated on 23/07/2015 10:15am by Sharon Eason
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