In my last blog I explored some October half-term walking and adventuring ideas, but they can obviously be enjoyed all year round – and the same goes for the following. Although I’ve included some autumnal themed suggestions, Anglesey is an amazing place for perambulation; period! And, with a growing number of cute, quirky, and/or characterful places to eat out on the islands, there are lots of pretty little corners, with an added bonus, to head to! Whether it’s an all-day amble or a leisurely stroll, a rugged ramble or a shore front saunter – don’t miss out!
Putting My Best Foot Forward…
1. Anglesey Harvest
Why not combine your walk with a bit of fall-time foraging? If the kids know their efforts are going to result in a mushroom omelette, blackberry crumble, or jam-making session, they’ll be much more enthused! Think sloe-gin for the adults!
Autumn – Bottled!
(My Kitchen, Rhoscolyn)
Although some of these tasty delights might be over by November, with something scrummy always available, you’ll find huge swathes of the Anglesey Coastal Path, as well as its amble auxiliary highways and byways, bursting with bounty throughout the seasons! If I listed all the places to go hedgerow-hunting, we’d be here all day; just keep your eyes peeled!
(Ty Capel, Rhoscolyn)
November Nibbles to look out for:
- Navelwort: This pretty little plant gets its ugly name name from its resemblance to tummy-buttons! Able to survive colder weather, it provides a tasty addition to salads and sandwiches during the darker months. Make sure to wash it, and chose the younger leaves – as the mature ones can be somewhat bitter. It’s usually found growing out of gaps and cracks in damp walls.
(Penrhos Coastal Park)
- Mushrooms: Yes, there are loads about in November – but do be careful what you pick, and take an identification guide with you if you’re not 100% sure! Also, be careful you don’t gather any that are too ‘magical’…
Parasol Mushroom (edible)
- Gathering cockles and mussels, and other types of shellfish/seafood is a worthwhile undertaking in Autumn as well. Click the following link for some recipe and harvesting suggestions!
(Silver Bay – last week)
Not up for nabbing your own? Not problem – a wonder down Beach Road to Rhoscolyn Bay will lead you past the village’s very own shellfish shop – Holy Island Seafood – where you can pick up both cooked and uncooked maritime morsels! Plus, The White Eagle’s menu often proffers Menai Mussels, as well as lobster, crab, sea bass – and so on! With cuisine inspired by local and seasonal produce – the Marram Grass (near Newborough), and Dylan’s (in Menai Bridge) – are well known for their regional recipes and Anglesey sourced produce – and there are lots of others too! Remember, prices are often higher in the autumn and winter months because it’s often harder for the fishermen to get out on the water!
Lots of Lovely Lobster Pots
(Rhoscolyn Bay/Borth Wen)
A walk in the Brynsiencyn area offers the opportunity of a stop-off at Halen Mon – Anglesey’s very own Sea Salt ‘Farm’! Now a well-know brand, especially with foodies, their well reviewed ‘on-site shop’ is open 7 days a week (10am-5pm) – with on-the-spot tours available – so pop in for a ‘salt of the earth’ experience! By the way, Their ‘vanilla’ flavoured offering works wonders with seafood – I know, I was sceptical too – but it really does!
Whilst in the area, you could also combine your walk with a visit to the Anglesey Sea Zoo. With over 40 tanks, displaying the best of British marine-life, you’ll get to view fascinating creatures from around the UK’s coasts – including: octopus, lobsters, seahorses, conger eels and small catsharks! Plus, you get the chance to learn about their fascinating habitats, as well as the research and conservation work helping to save and protect them. This side of the island often offers a more sheltered walking experience, with wonderful views over the Menai Strait – right across to mainland Wales; see if you can spot the captivating configuration of Caernarfon Castle on the other side!
(Rhuddgaer Stepping Stones, crossing the (tidal) River/Afon Braint, Nr Newborough. Book a table at the nearby (award-winning) Marram Grass Cafe for afterwards)
2. Anglesey Interior
Take this time to experience the interior of Anglesey! Yes, there are some rarely visited footpaths that take you on magical journeys through picturesque forests, fields and farmsteads that, with the call of the coast, can sometimes fail to appeal in the warmer months…but you’re missing out on so many memorable moments!
Reflections: Woodland and Water
(Penrhos, Near Holyhead)
Plan ahead, or take ‘the footpath lottery’ (my favourite type of walk) – either way you’ll always accidentally come across some astonishing sights – and foraging areas no one else has bothered with!
Inland Anglesey: A Whole Different Animal
Anglesey has lots of lovely ‘sunken’ lanes as well! Not only does their shelter often protect from the worst of the weather, but the hedgerows are really pretty at this time of year; look for for nuts, berries, and birds!
Submerge Yourself in Nature
(a Sunken’ Walk to Borth Arian – Rhoscolyn, Near Fly Lane)
Teazles and so on make for great craft projects and seasonal flower-arrangements too! Leaf-fall also means old nest are easier to spot now!
Seasonal Seeds – so “Teazlingly” Inviting!
3. Anglesey Woodland
Forest and woodland walks can be marvelous in autumn; try Newborough, with it’s red squirrel colony, and what about Aberlleiniog Castle close to Penmon? This little-known fortification, nestled in the heart of a peaceful, tree-filled nature reserve, also shoulders the shores of the magical Menai Strait – so, you can combine history, nature, and coastal walks too – without the crowds!
Game of Cones!
(Fir tree forest – Silver Bay. These can be used for kindling or home decoration!)
The Penrhos Coastal Park and Nature Reserve, with its wealth of woodland, is great for getting out of the wind and rain! Full of flowers, ferns, and fascinating folies, its freshwater habitats and coastal fringes make it a fabulous local feature – and it’s only a 15 minute car-ride from Rhoscolyn!
Part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it forms a section of the Anglesey Coastal Path network, as well as making up a section of the National Cycle Track (Routes 5 & 8); crisscrossed with trails, it’s super for both activities! If the sun comes out you’re never far away from its pretty border of beaches and bays – and the adjacent Beddmanarch Bay area (a designated stretch of Special Scientific Interest) is well-worth a wander round too. Although less ‘advertised’ there are red squirrels here as well!
(Penrhos – again)
4. Ancient Anglesey
Plan a walk that passes at least one of Anglesey’s ancient monuments or settlements; what better way to learn about the island’s history, and venerable heritage, than with a first-hand, hands-on experience? Being interested in Pagan beliefs ourselves, our favourites include the Neolithic burial chamber known as Barclodiad y Gawres (‘apron-ful’ of the giantess) at Cable Bay, the Ty Mawr Hut Circles near South Stack, the Din Lligwy ancient hut group (and chamber) mentioned in my last blog, and the prehistoric Bryn Celli Ddu (the mound in the dark grove) located near Llanddaniel – but there are loads more besides!
Worshiping the Ground we Walk on…
(Bryn Celli Ddu, near Llanddaniel)
Yes, with over 120 scheduled sites – including: 30 Neolithic/Bronze age burial chambers, several ancient dwellings and settlements – plus, abundant standing stones – you don’t have an excuse not to – and they’re often more arresting in the wilder months!
Ancient Anglesey/Monolithic Môn…
(Circular Hut Settlement (Holyhead Mountain), Monolithic Marvel (Llanfaethlu), and a Victorian Folli (Rhoscolyn).
NB. If planning a walk in the Llanfaethlu/Church Bay area, pop into The Black Lion when passing through – but do check it’s open first (the standing stone is almost next door) – and make sure to book an afternoon tea at The Outbuildings when close to Llanddaniel. Here you can soak up the late afternoon sun on the patio, or relax by the fire in the sitting room. It’s a little luxury you’ll love – and, as well as being close to Bryn Celli Ddu, they even have their own ancient stones near the grounds!
And what about building your own? Yes, a walk that takes in a rocky cove is the perfect place perfect for building some stone carnes. Used since ancient times, a cairn is a man-made stack of stones, often used to mark special spots, and they’re also lots of fun to build yourself! Competitions to see who can stack the highest one are a good idea!
Patience of a Saint
(Porth Saint, Rhoscolyn)
On a slightly different note, pitching and aiming pebbles at a specific target can be fun as well! Be sure to keep everyone out of the ‘throwing range’, and well away from other groups too! This activity is great for encouraging healthy competition, as well as hand-eye coordination! The target can be a larger stone, a piece of driftwood, a cairn, or even a washed up bit of plastic (which you can take away afterwards)! Waiting your turn, and not getting too silly, is to be seriously encouraged! Driftwood Jenga is rather jolly as well!
All things Weird and Wonderful!
4. Anglesey Wildlife:
I spoke about wildlife and seaside safaris in the last blog too – but don’t forget about Anglesey’s brilliant bird watching opportunities either!
(Breakwater Country Park, near Holyhead/South Stack – there are a couple of cafes, a gallery, and information centre too.)
The noisy and/or acrobatic sight of choughs, geese, gannets, ducks, linex, Manx shearwaters – and many more – are an autumn sight to behold; herons too!
Harvest Moon Heron
Seaside safaris can be super at this time of year as well! Keep an eye out for dolphins, porpoises – plus common and grey seals; with the females gathering in ‘rookeries’ (pupping sites) during October – and into November too!
Seal of Approval
(After the recent storms we found this little chap ‘beached’ on Cemlyn Bay – but never fear, the RSPCA came to the rescue!)
Head to The South Stack, the Inland Sea, the Menai Strait, or the Valley Wetlands – for some fantastic bird-related sights and sounds!
(Ellen’s Tower – RSPB Birdwatching, near South Stack)
5. Anglesey Action
Take a turn on one of the beaches the high-octane enthusiasts head to on tempestuous days! Watching the experts handle their boards – whether sail, paddle, kite, or wave driven – can be awesome…and might even inspire you to book some lessons! Rhosneigr, Lligwy, and Newborough are your best bet – and you’ll see lots of people out there on blowy days…all year round!
Getting Carried Away by Wind & Tide
(At Rhosneigr – with Rhoscolyn in the background!)
Weirdly, the water’s often warmer in the autumn than the summer – but investing in a good quality wetsuit might be advisable! When in Rhosneigr, look out for Mr ‘Mojo’ (AKA Alex) – owner of Mojo’s Creperie! This friendly French fellow moved here specifically for the surf! His logoed sail should alert you to his presence – oh, and he’s pretty well practiced at the sport too! From the nearby Surf Cafe you’ll be able to watch the wild at heart in the warmth…and they’re building a balcony as we speak! They also have a water-sports shop below – where you can book courses. Gecko have a ‘surf’ shop on the high street, and offer all sorts of lessons as well!
Mojo’s, though, is our best-loved breakfast spot – followed closely by Trearddur’s Sea Shanty! A scan of Rhosneigr High street will inform you of the hosts a profusion of places to grab a bite, with everything from pubs to a pizzeria, bistros to Fish & Chips, and cafes too! Try Chaplin’s for a traditional seaside treat. Sandy’s Bistro, although a little garish in terms of interior design, serves proper-sized portions, and flavoursome feasts! Sullavan’s service and friendly welcome is super as well. All the walks around here are splendid!
Beyond the Dunes…
(The Oyster Catcher, Rhosneigr – with Maelog Lake behind – both the beach and lake area are fabulous walking spots)
6. Anglesey Collections
Finally, go for a walk with a practical purpose! Wood-collecting can be enjoyable, and using it to warm up when you get back is very satisfying! We always take bags for smooth driftwood (with art projects in mind), for burnable bits, and ones for litter too! All your wood will usually need drying out first – but it doesn’t take long!
My Beachcombing Buddies!
(Great Rhoscolyn finds recently – thanks to ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Brian!)
On that note – organising a walk, with a beach clean-up combined, is both rewarding AND responsible. Autumn storms can mean, sadly, there’s often more than usual about. If you don’t want to organise one yourself, contact the Friends of the Anglesey Coastal Path for news of upcoming events – they run all sorts – including: maintenance projects, group walks, clear-ups, orienteering, and even Geocaching sessions!
(Atop Holyhead Mountain)
What’s Geocaching I hear you ask? It’s a fun, outdoor activity (similar to orienteering) in which participants typically use a Global Positioning System (GPS) or mobile devices to play a form of ‘treasure’ hunting, or ‘hide and seek’! Little containers, called “geocaches” or “caches” are left at specific locations, marked by coordinates that you set out with! The usual cache is a small waterproof container with a logbook and writing implement inside. Once located, the geocacher needs to enter the date they discovered it in the logbook, sign it (with their established code name – to prove that they found it) then replace it in exactly the same spot . Now a global phenomenon, for Geocaching sites in your area look online – A good one to try is: www.geocachingwales.com.
(Rhoscolyn Headland to Trearddur)
Well, I hope that this has given you a bit of inspiration to get out and go walkabout – Anglesey style! Until next time – have fun folks!
Don’t get into a flap – go walking instead!