photographed by Adrian Smith
All told, we did better for weather here than the Ryder Cup in south Wales. Anglesey has the great virtue of being low-lying and as far west as you can get, so there is nothing to provoke the clouds into raining. It also has some very pretty coastline and glorious expanses of sand with very few people to spoil your view.
The coastal path really does track the shore for long stretches, only sometimes being forced inland by caravan parks which value their privacy. The stretch west of Benllech is mostly carboniferous limestone, and has some good exposures with fossils aplenty and a very clear basal conglomerate where it runs out into very much older rock.
|Benllech - view from the coastal path. Guesthouse was tucked in by the stream just around the corner.|
|Coastal path - slumped limestone blocks.|
|Coastal path - Productus bed. This was detached and lying on the beach, but I'm sure it hadn't come far.|
|Fuchsia growing wild in the hedgerow. They don't get many frosts here then - nearly as common as in Donegal in the sheltered corners by the sea.|
|Well-worn coral block. Also on the beach, but close to the exposure.|
|Fan coral in situ in cliff face. This is one of the best I've seen, and sectioned beautifully in a six-foot bed of reef deposits.|
The second panorama looks back from Lligwy bay, which is back on the older rocks (just).
Looking at this sky, it is quite hard to believe that rain was not too far away, and that we would get quite damp on the return journey. Never mind, the Bay Cafe does a good Welsh Stew and an excellent pint of Guinness to make you feel better about the odd wet day.
Over to the mainland for a bit of castle-spotting. It cleared just as we started working our way around the walls at Caernarfon, so a few good photo-opportunities. Unfortunately Beaumaris was less kind, so on the homeward run we just have Rhuddlan to offer you.
|Caernarfon - looking toward the Eagle Tower. This one is a very political castle - all about looking imposing and being easy to supply by sea.|
|Caernarfon - all that is left of the Eagle.|
|Caernarfon - the view inland from the Eagle Tower. The proliferation of turrets is original, and was a bit of Arthurian fantasy even then.|
|Caernarfon - the entire curtain wall. Inspired by the Romans, particularly the walls of Constantinople with their angular towers and horizontal stripes.|
|Caernarfon - curtain wall with cars for scale. Yes it is big - the carpark is a welcome foreground for once!|
|Castle rock - view towards Snowdon.|
Time for an amble down the coastal path towards the mainland, with some hope of finding the base of the limestone going this way too. Unfortunately the marked track into a very handy quarry was totally brambled up, so we backed off and climbed up here to enjoy the view.
The next outing was to South Stack, around the corner from Holyhead. Lots of much older rock, and the birder in the party was suitably choughed to meet the local residents. Incidentally we think you should pronounce Chough as in Slough when it does a fair job of mimicking the very characteristic calls!
Then back to Din Lligwy which we had looked at in the rain the day before, and wanted to see in better light. This is a very well-preserved romano-british settlement with workshops and two very grand roundhouses, the whole thing walled in by a polygonal line of boulders on edge. The nearby burial chamber and the henge and mound at Bryn Celli Ddu round off the history tour.
|South Stack - lighthouse. Old gun position adds welcome foreground.|
|South Stack - view of cliffs.|
|Din Lligwy - roundhouse and boundary wall.|
|Din Lligwy - workshop and corner of boundary. Lots of slag and charcoal were dug out of here, so some serious ironworking was done here once.|
|Lligwy - burial chamber. A big rock slab you can get underneath.|
|Bryn Celli Ddu - historic signage.|
|Bryn Celli Ddu - mound with Richard for scale. Classic chambered cairn, but with a very strange obelisk hidden right in the middle. Worth a look inside!|
|Bryn Celli Ddu - remains of surrounding henge.|
Final call on the road home was Rhuddlan, which was built in the first wave of the conquest of Wales. It is part of a ring of slightly simpler castles that started the process of pinning the upstart Welsh back into the corners before Caernarfon and Beaumaris delivered the knockout blow. We should really have blocked the traffic on the way in, when the light was ridiculously dramatic as the rain cleared from the west. This shot was taken about an hour later when the dark sky had moved away to the east.
|Rhuddlan castle - view from the approach.|
|Rhuddlan castle - showing robbed-out sections. All the nice red-sandstone blocks have found new homes.|
|Rhuddlan castle - as intentionally trashed after the civil war. One of several holes in the walls to make sure it was never used again.|
Rolled gently home, catching up with the weather around Leeds. For once, the extreme west had been the place to be. Next time around, they should play the Ryder Cup at Morpha Nefyn which was pretty dry all 3 days!