Updated: Feb 28
I think it's time for a new blog project, can't wait to get to H and realise no one cares. Truth is, I've been to some pretty cool places, and I want to go to even more cool places. If I can write about those cool places here, maybe someone will pay me to write about them one day.
A is for Anglesey, Wales, U.K
When: May 2022
Why: Camping Holiday
Who: Me and Kieran
We drove down from my home in Lancashire to Anglesey, stopping at the classic Wales travelling break point: Conwy. If you haven't been there and seen the teeny tiny house, where have you been. It's a place of great history, and even greater fish and chip shops.
Driving across the Menai Bridge towards the great isle of Anglesey, you can see why it is classed as one of the United Kingdom's Areas of Outstanding Beauty. Even the houses facing the Strait before you embark upon the isle are picturesque.
We were headed for Newborough, on the south side of the island, where we'd booked Maes Tywyn campsite on Pitchup.com. We were greeted by an adorable Liverpudlian who showed us to our spot. It was a very small site, with about 8 tent-only pitches, with amazing amenities from clean toilets and showers to a roofed pot wash and kettle station, with a walled map and guides to make the most of your trip to the island. Basically, it had everything you could ever want. Full exposure, there were some games in there, and I may have accidentally stolen one... I haven't slept a full night since I feel so bad about it. Now you all know my trauma - I am a thief. I'm sorry lovely campsite woman, I will bring it back one day!
I'd decided on Newborough because I figured we would be able to get around the island easily in the car from there, and the campsite was so cheap, especially for what was on offer there. We did go out of season and were able to book last minute, but it was such a gem of a find. Newborough is also quite close to the sea, and had a pub in the nearby town, which on further inspection looked like the sort of pub where visitors wouldn't be welcomed with open arms (especially English visitors if you know what I mean) and was closed for refurbishment the entire time we were there anyway.
Did I mention it started raining as soon as we pulled up to the campsite? Wales is well known for its wet weather, and unfortunately rain + putting up a tent = no thank you. So, what could we do? I'll tell you the only thing we could do.
Pub. We drove away, with all of our belongings still in the car, and went for an explore. We headed towards Rhosneigr, up on the west coast, which is regarded as one of the major towns and places to visit on Anglesey. There, we fell upon a very strange and very empty bar that was showing Pointless and waited for the rain to stop. Kieran at this point, after car beers and now pub beers, was getting to the point where he would probably make me help with the construction of the tent, so once it dried up, we zipped back to our site and set up camp.
Waking up on our first full day in Anglesey, the sky was reflecting a beautiful day. We were lulled into a sense of security - shorts check, sunglasses check, t-shirts check. We would come to regret being lulled at all, because walking around Beaumaris in the rain was definitely one of the lows of the trip. We'd travelled all the way to the East side of Anglesey in the pursuit of a cup of prawns that Kieran had had on a childhood camping trip. Surprise surprise, after 20 years and in the off season on a rainy day in May, the prawn cup was nowhere to be seen. You can see in the photo below that I am buzzing at this point. Even the children's playground couldn't cheer me up.
You know earlier when I said Anglesey looked picturesque? Well on one of our days of travelling around, we decided to hop off to visit the Waitrose (I know - poshest campers ever, but honestly it was the first supermarket we could find) in Bangor and to have a walk around the town. Whereas one way you feel hopeful and awed by the idea of the beauty of Anglesey, driving back across the bridge towards Bangor can only be described as depressing and uninspiring. When I was about 17, I came down to Bangor a few times, as I thought it might be a good place for me to go to university (it had a great Linguistics department, links with one of the greatest linguistic authors of all time, David Crystal, and I have family who went and loved it). At the time I remember thinking wow, if I go here I'll get so into hiking and become outdoorsy and find myself a lovely Welshman and have the time of my life...
Fast forward 8 years, and as I walked through the centre I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Was it always that shabby? I remember this little town with loads of friendly looking pubs and shops. What we found were grubby streets, pawn and charity shops checkering the high street, and honestly the best place to go for food was Wetherspoon's. You honestly won't find me saying that very often, but seriously the view from the sun deck of the Black Bull Inn was really lovely. Yes, the view was of neighbouring Anglesey, and yes there were sea gulls hovering around very bowl of chips, but it was the best we could do. Kieran was very disappointed too; said it was reminiscent of our "Museum of Childhood" experience (wait for E is for Edinburgh for context there).
Back to Anglesey...
Yes, the trip sounds pretty bad so far. Add in the 30mph winds and you've got the recipe for a pretty disastrous trip, right? Well, I don't agree, and you might not either after I tell you about Llanddwyn. Fun fact: the Telegraph once called Llanddwyn the most romantic island in Wales. The island is steeped with history and legend. It's named for the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers, Dwynwen, and the island bears the ruined remains of St Dwynwen's Church. At the edge of the island, you find the Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse, Pilot's cottages and beautiful sandy beaches.
To get there is an adventure in itself. We walked there from our campsite, through the Newborough forest, which was used to be an experimental bombing range and home to airfields in the Second World War. Thousands of allied troops also made the forest their temporary home.
Emerging from the trees, we found an ice cream van (bullseye) and the long stretch of sandy beach that makes up Llanddwyn Bay, ending with the peninsula of Llanddwyn. Great spot for dog walkers and kite flyers. Reaching the end of the beach we found a crowd of people obviously in conflict. The conflict: to wade or not to wade. The path to get onto the peninsula is tidal, and we had reached it at it's midpoint. Not ones to be stopped by a little water, we hopped through the stream and thank goodness we did because what we found was spectacular. Surrounded by sheep, we stepped into the set of a film. If you're ever in that part of the world, get your walking boots and see it for yourself.
(If you want more pictures of people pointing at stuff, this is the blog for you)
Another spot worth a visit is Trearddur Bay - a beautiful beach town with a fair number of bars. Unfortunately, the day we were there is was incredibly windy - not really beach weather so what could we possible do. Oh yeah. Pub. We walked up to the Trearddur Bay Hotel, and I must admit I am a sucker for an oldie worldie pub vibe. You know the type with a bit of a musty smell? There was a lot of reconstructive work going on there, so I'm sure the hotel area is really nice (the photos online look lush).
After visiting Trearddur Bay, we went on an explorative drive to South Stack but didn't get very far - I didn't fancy getting blown off the edge of a cliff, so we made a u-ey and drove to Holyhead, the largest town on the island. Kieran googled a good fish and chip shop, so we parked and walked through the town. And I am really glad we did, so now you don't have to. What we saw of Holyhead was the classic case of a dead small commuter/ fly by town. It's got a big port, so a constant flow of traffic going far away, and they have the right idea. Even the seagulls here were extra aggressive. To be fair, the fish and chips were worth the drive - fun fact: Price's was the first ever fish and chip shop in Wales apparently, and thus it's the oldest in Holyhead.
On our last night, as a bit of a treat, we booked to go to the famous Oyster Catcher restaurant in Rhosneigr. It's quite a fancy spot, with an incredible view overlooking Caenarfon Bay. The top floor is the restaurant, offering fresh fish and meticulously picked seasonal dishes. We treated ourselves to a starter of cockles, followed by seafood pasta and seabass in a buttery saffron sauce. After a memorable dinner (wherein I made an inappropriate joke to the waitress about a shellfish allergy, and from therein got scathing looks from the whole staff team), we headed downstairs to Will's Bar, where we stumbled upon a jam night. Locals from around the island had gathered to make some sweet music, and we sat and listened whilst watching the sun setting across the bay. Such a spectacular place if you're willing to pay a bit more for the experience.
Overall, our little tour of Anglesey was really special. I know camping isn't for everyone, but waking up on the floor just adds an extra element of adventure and fun to any holiday.
Rating: 7/ 10
Would I go again? Yes definitely - there is so much left to explore.