Exploring the Anglesey coastline is a must if you are visiting this part of the world. This stretch of pristine beaches and dramatic cliff faces is why so many people visit the island.
North Wales has so many beautiful areas, making it an increasingly popular area for tourists, whether you’re seeking adventure in the mountains and rivers of Snowdonia, or more tranquil pursuits such as watching the sun sinking into the sea across the Lynn peninsula.
My natural inclination when visiting Wales is to head to the mountains and I love nothing more than scrambling up something like Bristly Ridge on my way up Glyder Fach. However, the coastline of Anglesey has some great spots for exploring and nowhere better than Newborough Forest and Ynys Llanddwyn to the south of the island.
There are plenty of activities on offer here; those wanting to push their heart rate can follow the running or cycling trails through the forest whereas those that just want to absorb the natural world can plonk themselves on one of the coves on Llanddwyn island for some seal spotting, or just enjoy a stroll along Newborough beach.
There is good parking at reasonable rates at the main beachside car park which operates via registration plate recognition, and you can pay by cash, card, or contactless payment on exit. This car park also has clean toilets, some picnic spots as well as food vans during the busier months of the year.
The car park can fill up quickly in the summer months so getting there early or later in the day in those times is recommended.
The forest is gorgeous, and you can go and lose yourself in there for a few hours, although the waymarked trails are well signposted so you can easily find your way back to where you need to be.
The Corsican pines that make up Newborough Forest were planted to stabilise the shifting dune system, and now serve as a recreation network as well as providing a home to all sorts of animals.
The combination of scents is a heady mix, especially in those areas of the forests closer to the sea, where pine, sea, salt, and sand, fill your lungs and nose with fresh aromas.
There are several walking trails of differing lengths although there is nothing here verging on strenuous. Each route takes on different aspects of the forest; the circular Princes and Pines Heritage trail takes you around the forest, dunes, and farmland.
The Estuary View walk runs parallel to the Cefni estuary where there are a couple of viewing points for bird-spotting. The Red Squirrel trail does what it says on the tin and takes you through the areas of the forest where you are most likely to spot one of our furry red friends.
The Nature/Animal Puzzle trail is a great one for families where children can lead the way, searching for carved wooden animals and clues on the way. According to the Newborough Nature Reserve site a family activities pack can be picked up from a dispenser there although I did not see one on my recent trips.
There are several horse-riding trails although you will need a permit to ride a horse there. There are a couple of bike trails that are again family friendly and not particularly technical.
For trail runners there is the Commonwealth trail which follows the 11km route through forest, dunes, and onto the island, whereas the much shorter trim trail includes 11 exercise stations with rest areas next to them.
Of course, most people do not visit this area of natural beauty for pull ups and press ups, but to enjoy the environment and stroll across Llanddwyn beach.
The blue flag beach is long, sandy, clean, and has lovely views across Caernarfon Bay to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lynn Peninsula.
Note that there are dog restrictions from May through to September for the stretch from the car park through to the island although the rest of the beach is dog friendly all year round.
We watched fisherman casting off from the shore as we strolled across the beach in early July, whilst a kestrel hovered above the sand dunes looking to hook a meal of its own.
Depending on where the tide is up to you can find all manner of oceanic treasures left on the beach from crabs, shells, jellyfish, and razor clams.
The tide time is something to check if you are planning on heading on to Llanddwyn Island, which is not quite an island but a headland which gets cut off twice a day at high tide. At its highest the tide cuts off the headland for an hour or two which is worth factoring in to your trip.
The island is a magical place and has many attractions; the combination of the lighthouses, the church ruins, the Snowdonia background, and the light it gets from the setting sun means both photographers and instagrammers head off here in search or the perfect shot.
There are a few paths allowing you to do circuits of the island and explore the small hidden away coves and beaches. On warm summer days Llanddwyn is a delightful haven where you can spend a few hours picnicking on the beach and enjoying the seaside views.
In colder months when the weather turns the winds and waves rolls in the island can be a much more dramatic place to be.
Llanddwyn translates as the church of St Dwynwen – the Welsh patron saint of lovers. Legend has it that St Dwynwen came to Llanddwyn after a failed love affair and dedicated her life her helping others find love.
A church was built on the island which became a place of pilgrimage for those unlucky in love, especially in Tudor times. A new church was built on the island in the 16th Century and the remains of this church can still be seen today, and locals maintain the folklore and tradition by celebrating St Dwynwen’s day each January 25th.
There are two crosses on Llanddwyn that pay tribute to St Dwynwen and the church.
The Celtic cross in the middle of the island commemorates the church with inscriptions in Welsh on one side and in English on the other. The plain cross towards the end of the island is dedicated to St Dwynwen and is perched on a small hill which is also a great vantage point for viewing the Twr Mawr lighthouse.
Twr Mawr lighthouse is very picturesque with its s-shaped staired pathway leading up to the white-walled windmill like building, and the mountains, the Lynn peninsula, and Caernarfon Bay its backdrop. It’s little surprise that it draws so many visitors.
The views from the lighthouse are fabulous, and although your eyes will be drawn to the mountains in the distance to see if you can pick out Snowdon from Y Garn, if you look to the sea down below you are likely to see the heads of grey seals bobbing about as they come up for air. On the nearby craggy islands, you will see cormorants and shags nested together, taking a breather from their fishing trips.
To the south from Twr Mawr sits another smaller lighthouse, Twr Bach, and nearby are the pilots’ cottages that housed the pilots that guided ships through the Menai Straits in years gone by.
The small cannon that sits outside the cottages was used to summon help from nearby Newborough village to man the lifeboat. Thankfully, we no longer rely on cannon communication as a means of raising the alarm, but this area of the island tells us of a different time and a maritime way of life.
As the tide heads in it’s time to return the car and one last stroll down that lovely long beach. The coast of Wales is amazing, and Anglesey has some of the best stretches of those coastal paths, and Newborough and Ynys Llanddwyn may be one of the best bits. It’s worth the trip on its own, but if you are heading this way then make sure you pay it a visit.