Newborough Beach is somewhere we have visited regularly – each time looking enviously towards Llanddwyn Island. I had always believed it was out-of-bounds to us as its status of a nature reserve meant we couldn’t take the barking furry pair. However, the opportunity arose when me and Rowan were at the caravan with my Mum and Dad, and Rick (who has fewer holidays than me) had stayed home with the muttlers and several packets of Tunnock’s teacakes for company.
Parking at Newborough Beach car park, we visited the toilets before consulting the informations boards. We decided to walk along a forest track rather than along the beach, choosing a more direct path so we would have time to explore the island.
Along the way were lots of things for Rowan to discover. There were signposts giving information about the types of creatures you can find among the trees and the role they play in looking after the forest. Fallen tree trunks always give a good Dirty Dancing moment and the parallel bars taught me that I can no longer flip upside down like I used to. After flailing round unsuccessfully for a few minutes, I gave up and let Rowan have a go. He did a great job hanging around.
Further along the path, Rowan found a painted stone. Somebody had clearly spent a lot of time and care creating Karate Carrot, so after we’d finished admiring, we re-hid it for someone else to appreciate. Further along we found some more artwork – this time a crocodile carved into an old lump of wood.
The path turned to the left and the expansive beach of Newborough came into view, and with it, our first glimpse of Llanddwyn Island.
To the left we could see the mountains of Snowdonia, their peaks shrouded in grey clouds, but our route led to the right and the rocky peninsula that would be our destination.
Small mountains were conquered along the way.
But eventually, after following the shoreline we came to a wooden hut, beside which a path led to a rustic gate, carved with the words Ynys Llanddwyn.
We climbed the steps and followed the undulating path round grassy knolls, spotting inviting secluded bays that would be hidden when high tide came around.
About half a mile after passing through the Llanddwyn Island gate, we crested a last hummock to find the head of the island and all it has to discover.
We first made our way to the ruins of St Dwynwen’s Church. St Dwynwen, known as the Welsh patron saint of lovers, lived during the 5th Century. She and a prince named Maelon were in love, but her father had arranged a marriage to another. Upset by the news that she couldn’t marry her true love, Dwynwen prayed that God help her forget him. She was visited by an angel who gave her a potion to fulfil her wish, but with the unfortunate side effect of turning Maelon into a block of ice. She was then granted three wishes. Firstly, she requested Maelon be thawed. Secondly, she wished that God would help all true lovers find happiness and the third – that she, herself would never marry. Her wishes were granted and, as thanks, she founded a convent on the island, with the chapel being built in the 16th century.
There are also two crosses on the island – one Celtic, one plain – erected by the then owner of the island in memory of the church and St Dwynwen around the turn of the 20th century. And they really do look spectacular in their surroundings.
It’s possible to spend a lot of time wandering round. We found a row of white washed cottages, commanding amazing views across the sea to Snowdonia, built for the pilots who used to guide ships into the Menai Strait.
A large hut intrigued us as to use. We couldn’t find any clues, but there were some barrels perfect for hiding a small boy in.
Continuing on, we came to a small seaweed strewn bay with far-reaching views out to sea and, standing sentinel either side, the two towers – lighthouses, named Twr Mawr and Twr Bach. Chief Brody may have need a bigger boat, but Rowan needed a bigger rock when he scrambled ahead then tried to hide below Twr Bach.
Before long, it was time to return and we walked along the wall leading to a clear path to one of the crosses. Looking back to Twr Mawr, I decided that we would definitely have to return, spending the day to discover more of the nooks and crannies of this enchanting island.
The path led us along the edge of the opposite side of the island and back to the beach where we strolled along the sand and to the car park, having walked just over four miles.
Since visiting the island, I have found some more information about dog restrictions. It turns out that dogs are not allowed on the island between 1st April and 30th September due to nesting birds, so it looks like we’re all good to go later in the year. It is also worth mentioning that the island can be cut off at high tide. If you’re planning a visit, you can find more information about Newborough Warren and Llanddwyn Island here.