Sunday, November 13, 2016

UK Adventure part 2: Anglesey Excursion

One day we decided to go on a day trip to Anglesey. Our only real plans were to go for a walk along the coast, take a peek at the Menai Bridges, and get some lunch, somewhere.

First stop, of course, was at Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch... Well, sorta. We used Google Maps for directions, which took us down an increasingly narrow set of roads. Now, I remember visiting Llanfair PG with Suz years and years ago -- long before GPS -- and knew we had found it with only tourist signage, so I thought things had gone a bit wrong. But it wasn't until we turned down a dirt track no wider than the car, and I realized it was a long driveway, that we KNEW we were seriously off course.

A slow, grinding, 173-point turn executed in a slightly wider spot, rear proximity alarm shrieking every time I put the car in reverse for an inch or two, lots of cranking the wheel back and forth, and eventually we escaped, even if I felt like that scene in Austin Powers:


But we arrived, bemused to find 6 coaches in the carpark and a huge shop where we dutifully did too much random shopping. Wil did, however, acquire this:

deerstalker FTW!

The name Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch dates from the mid 19th century as a stunt to attract tourists ... and, clearly, judging by the number of visitors on a chilly November morning, it works. 

We went on to the railway platform, more than slightly bemused that one can actually still catch a train here.


Oh, and that's our obligatory #llanfie ...

Tourist obligations satisfied, we headed off to the village of Rhoscolyn for a ramble. We had a pamphlet about walks on Anglesey, and the circular route near the village seemed perfect. I'll cut to the chase here: we had a nice walk, saw some lovely views, but the pamphlet unfortunately lacked a decent map and we clearly got well off track a few times. But who cares -- we still had a nice walk in the countryside!

We started with a visit to the White Eagle Inn, a very handsome gastropub.


We stopped in for a pint... and were seduced by the appetizers. We managed not to also have a sandwich -- which, seeing them served to other diners, was regrettable. Should we ever have the opportunity to return to the area, my plan is to spend a day just eating as much of the menu as I can...

Then we walked up the lane to St. Gwenfaen's church, a 19th-century church incorporating elements of the earlier 15th-century church. But even that church was a replacement:
There has been a church on the site since 630 AD, when it was dedicated to Gwenfaen, daughter of Pawl Hen of Manaw (Isle of Man), who made her cloister here. Legend has it that Gwenfaen, who was renowned for healing mental illness, was chased away from her cell by druids and escaped by climbing the rock stack off Rhoscolyn head. The tide came in and she was carried away by angels, which is how Saints Bay got its name. - stgwenfaen.org





After trying ... and failing ... to locate the correct footpath to take us to the "start" of the loop, we decided to go in the reverse direction, assuming we would be able to spot the church from a distance to come back. (spoiler alert: not exactly...) 

on the first footpath we tried ... a circular route on this little hill next to the church...
Okay, this seems like the right one...


So we walked along some lovely old footpaths until we reached the coast, and admired the views. 




Clearly, however, we had done something else wrong ... the walk was meant to be 4 or 5 miles, and we had been walking nearly two hours over not challenging terrain. It took some twists, turns, and perhaps a teensy bit of trespassing before we found our way...


We then drove to Beaumaris because neither of us had seen the castle. A slightly scary 2-lane road led to the village, but we (and our car) arrived unscathed. We paid a quick visit to the castle, enjoying the empty walls and passages, and admiring the views. (And, of course, the gift shop...)

image Crown Copyright
Beaumaris is a "proper castle" -- with a moat (a MOAT!), inner and outer walls, turrets, multiple defenses, the works. 


Wil had the opportunity to show off his superhuman strength...


... and his mad harping skills ...


... but we had to be careful, because DANGER LURKS EVERYWHERE!



Then back to Penrhyn Bay, this time crossing the lovely old Menai Suspension Bridge, completed by Thomas Telford in 1826. 

image courtesy bbc.co.uk
(Quick aside about Telford -- he also designed the spectacular Pontycsyllte Aqueduct, and the very pretty Conwy Suspension Bridge next to the castle. When the Menai Suspension Bridge was completed, it's 579-foot span was the longest in the word.)

The bridge is quite narrow, and we crept along behind a large coach. I was too white-knuckled to contemplate taking a snap, but I did find two great images others took of the roadway:

"On the Menai Suspension Bridge" image copyright Jeremy Bolwell
"Crossing Into Anglesey" image copyright Eric Jones
You can tell just how crazy narrow these archways are ... I imagine the driver telling everyone to hold their breath as they inched through.

Next up: UK Adventure part 3: Otley!

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