Craning forwards – towards Porth-y-garan…
This pretty, stoney little cove on Holy Island’s western shores – known as Porth-y-garan (or Crane’s Bay) – is only a short walk across the headland from Rhoscolyn (if heading towards Trearddur – or vica versa), and it really is a super spot to stop and explore for a while!
Because it’s accessible only on foot, or via the water, it’s never seems to get very busy – and, from first hand experience, I can tell you that it’s a wonderful place for swimming, beach-combing, climbing, crabbing, rock-pooling, prawning, adventure…and more!
All things weird and wonderful wash up on Porth-y-garan!
As the Crane Flies:
- Grid Ref: SH 2559 7709
- Lat/Long: 53.2621,-4.61623584
- Post Code: LL65 2AX
- The nearest (roadside) parking (about 15 minutes walk away at most) is towards the end of Ravenspoint Road, in Trearddur Bay. Spaces here get taken quickly though, especially in peak seasons – and there are (sensibly) more yellow lines nowadays too.
- However, there’s P&D parking available next to both the Sea Shanty, and the Black Seal etc. – which will add another 10 minutes or so to your walk.
- From Ravenspoint Road (past The Seacroft, and behind Porth Diana & Porth Castell), just follow the Coastal Path south; Porth-y-garan is the next ‘proper’ bay you’ll get to. Backed by a small caravan park – which the footpaths lead you through – you can’t miss it!
You can’t miss it!
- There’s both an easier and rockier route from Trearddur; the rocky alternative more or less hugs the coast, takes you up and down the back of a gully – and is our favourite!
- For something a little more gentle (and accessible by bike too) – follow Ravenspoint Road, right to the end – where it turns into the lane leading to various caravan sites. Keep heading straight on, then down-hill, until you come out near the ‘reception’ for the Lee Caravan site. Here, turn right, heading towards the sea, and you’ll soon you’ll see a metal kissing gate on the left; this leads you down some little stone steps onto Porth-y-garan.
- Please note that bikes are not meant to be ridden from here on in – and, obviously, no access for cars not associated with the caravan sites are allowed past the end of Ravens Point Road!
- If starting off from Rhoscolyn – you can either park in the P&D beach car park, or for free up by St Gwenfaen’s Church (not far from The White Eagle).
- You then need to head north on the coastal path – towards Trearddur Bay. There are a number of routes, each one distinctive and beautiful – so try them all! Basically though, once you’re on the headland, keep the sea to your left and continue onwards!
- If you can fit Saint’s Bay in on the same walk – do so!
- From our place (Ty Capel and Rhoscolyn Chapel) head out of the village towards the school. Before that though, just after crossing the little stone bridge, and opposite the entrance to lovely Cerrig, you’ll see a lane leading off to the left (with a dead end sign). If you follow it all the way up and to the end you’ll come to the headland in no time at all.
- Ignore the lane to the left, as well as 2nd footpath/lane to the left* a little further on, instead heading straight on, up, then downhill for a minute – until you get to a gate. Go through it, remembering to close it behind you, and generally head forwards and to the right; you’ll arrive at the bay in ten minutes or so. Take note of the ‘Private’ property signs – and don’t trespass!
- There are a few paths to choose from once you’re on the headland – one taking you behind, another in front of, a rocky mound or two – but they all end up leading to Porth-y-garan!
*NB if you take this path to the left you’ll actually pass through the end of Pant yr Hyman’s garden; a fabulous walk for another time! PS This house has views to die for!
Approaching from the Trearddur side…
Back to the Bay
Porth-y-garan is made up of a mixture of pebbles and shingle, with small patches of sand here and there, and shouldered by rocks. Although backed by a caravan park, it still has that special wild-seaside appeal that kids love – and dogs do too!
Please note that all the facilities, including the slipway, are for use by the caravan site residents only!
Porth-y-garan splits into a number of lovely little bays…
At low-tide it’s ripe for exploration – and the perfect crabbing and rock-pooling retreat – with lots of other little beaches and coves appearing on either side. At high-tide it’s forms a fabulous swimming area, which is often protected from wind and waves – so it’s relatively safe for your little ones – although, swimming is possible on almost all tides here. Be aware that various boats are moored in the bay – and can enter/exit at any time. Our favourite swimming ‘hole’, however, is slightly to the south (over a rocky mound or two, back towards Rhoscolyn) – and only appears at high tide. I always feel like I’m in the swimming pool at Malory Towers when I’m there – however, I shall say no more…but if you do find it – good for you – it’s magical!
OK, OK – it’s not always sheltered!
Picnics in the bay, or surrounding area, are lovely; we often head to these cliffs to unwind after a hard day’s renovating – with a bottle of something cold! Being on the west coast it’s a great place to watch the sunset – the beauty often moving me to tears! We even saw the blurred and misty outline of Ireland from here JUST the other evening; always a special treat!
Although shingle-strewn and rocky, Porth-y-garan has a grassy backdrop to sit on if the pebbles are poking you!
Stunning headland sunsets!
The area’s cliffs are popular with climbers too – so you may see some nimble souls out and about around here, as well as in the adjacent Porth Gwalch/Hawks Cove, and Porth-y-Cromlech. For more information go to:
Furthermore, there are great fishing marks all the way along this coast – in fact, I’ve never been for a walk here without seeing at least one person giving it a go – and I’ve caught loads myself over the years; even a crabbing line can be enough to catch a mackerel on some occasions!
Fishing off the rocks near Porth-y-garan…
The Porth-y-garan Reef is well know to Anglesey scuba-divers too – for more details take a look at Chris Holden’s book: ‘The Essential Underwater Guide to North Wales’ – Volume One, Part Two, Chapter 11 – parts of which can be read online. Dive Anglesey has a centre/shop on Ravenspoint Road – called Splash – where you can organise rib charter, and they supply air etc. too. Open in peak seasons only – they also sell ice-lollies, buckets and spades, and other seaside paraphernalia.
The water is so clear though, that even snorkelling here can be fabulous – and on a REALLY calm day you can just peer in!
Taken from above…no underwater camera needed!
Kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, coasteering, or even boating round to Porth-y-garan (from Rhoscolyn, Trearddur – and further afield) is a common occurrence. It can get dicey close to the rocks in rough weather though – plus, the waves, tides, and currents need to be taken into consideration at all times – however, it’s a wonderful place to pull-up, or drop anchor for a while – so long as you know what you’re doing! For local lessons and sessions why not try Rhoscolyn’s very own outdoor activity centre – BActive@rhoscolyn?
Making a Splash!
In spring and summer, make sure you investigate the natural, fresh-water pools on the headland behind the bay (as you approach from the Rhoscolyn side) – they’re full of gorgeous wild irises and water-lilies – so much so, that many locals call the area ‘Lily Ponds’, and you’ll sometimes see this name on older maps too.
More lilies flowering every day now – go and take a look!
The headland’s wild-flowers are always a delight, with species like – sea thrift, spring squill, heather – and even giant daisies growing in profusion all over the place near here!
Pretty as a daisy – headland flowers near Porth-y-garan!
Porth-y-garan is also a superb beach-combing bay – and I can never pass through without having a good old nosy! We’ve found all sorts over the years – including: buoys, bottles, boxes, driftwood…and my mum even salvaged an old dingy here once – which is now planted out with flowers at Borth Arian!
I told you so!
Yes, the bay is named after the Welsh word for a crane (garan), but you’re more likely to spot a heron here these days; not that that’s a bad thing – but sad when you realise humans are the reason behind the dwindling numbers of cranes on British shores.
Approaching from the Rhoscolyn side…
Cranes were once a common sight on Anglesey, and the UK in general (think of place-names such as Cranfield, Cranbrook, and Cranmore), however, sadly they were all but wiped out centuries ago – through a combination of hunting, habitat loss, land-drainage – plus, other environmental disturbances – and by the start of the 17th Century, they had ceased to breed in the UK at all!
A tiny number though, do still pass through Britain during spring and autumn – plus, there’s a very small breeding population in eastern England now…and, you’ll be delighted to know, that the situation is improving further!
Location, Location, Location…!
Over recent years, organisations such as the RSPB and ‘The Great Crane Project’ have worked tirelessly to restore and/or replace the sorts of habitats and conditions in which cranes thrive – in places like: the Norfolk Broads, Lakenheath, Otmoor, Mersehead, Loch of Strathbeg, the Flow Country, the Somerset Levels and Moors – and right here on Anglesey too! Indeed, Mark and I visited the Somerset Levels in June (for the Summer Solstice) and saw a couple of cranes whilst we were there! Fingers crossed, more and more will be heading back to our coast and countryside soon – and, one day, Porth-y-garan might be worthy of its name again!
‘Heron’ my own again – on the Menai Strait!
To find out more, as well as to log any sightings, take a look at the following websites:
How do you tell a crane from a heron?
NB The following information has been adapted from The Great Crane Project page…
- The heron flies with its neck bent and head tucked in so appears short necked, with long trailing legs, but the crane flies with neck outstretched like a goose – also trailing its legs behind.
- The pattern of flight is similar in both species, but herons are more often solitary. Cranes, on the other hand, usually go around in a little group, flying in a typical line formation, one behind the other – similar to a flock of geese.
Sadly, this photo isn’t mine!
- Cranes are very unlikely to be caught standing still, or hunched beside pools, shorelines, and ditches – this is heron behaviour. Cranes are more likely to be seen heads down, as a group – picking over arable stubble, or in pasture land.
- Young cranes are very grey and brown looking. In contrast, herons actually have a lot of white on their bodies, and can look very pale, or even white, when viewed head on. As young cranes mature, they develop the distinctive white and black patterning on their heads and necks – but their wings and bodies become a more uniform light grey.
With or without cranes, Porth-y-garan is a very special spot to visit!
Beachcombing on Porth-y-garan – with my step-son (Tom), and youngest sister (George)!