Interesting Island – Places to visit on Anglesey
There are many historic and interesting places to visit on Anglesey. The island’s entire coastline has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are stunning sandy beaches, especially along the eastern coast from Beauamaris to Amlwch, and along the western coast from Ynys Llanddwyn to Rhosneigr. The northern coastline is characterised by dramatic cliffs and secluded bays. The Anglesey Coastal Path runs along nearly all the coastline, covering 124 miles of incredible scenery.
Anglesey is a thriving island steeped in history. Historically it has always been associated with the druids, attacked by the Romans in AD 60, determined to overpower the Celtic druids but not conquered properly until AD 78. Copper mining was of great importance during the Roman occupation – Caer Gybi and the fort on Holyhead Mountain are both Roman in origin. Anglesey was known as Mona by the Romans.
There is plenty of evidence of megalithic monuments on Anglesey which testify to the presence of humans “prehistory”. There are the remains of 28 cromlechs around Plas Newydd alone ! Iron Age and Roman sites have been excavated and so many items from these times have been discovered. If you have time to visit the History Room at Oriel Mon, Llangefni, you will get a better understanding of just how advanced Anglesey was compared to the rest of the world. Learn about the Romans, the Vikings, the Saxons then the Normans – follow on with Edward I building his castles in the 13th century. Visit Beaumaris Castle, a World Heritage Site, to learn all about why he chose Beaumaris as one of his main strategic points.
Visit all four lighthouses on Anglesey and learn about our sea fairing past. From Penmon Priory, Beaumaris Castle, Menai Bridge, Britannia Bridge, Plas Newydd to Swtan and beyond – there is just so much to see and learn about. Anglesey is not just an island full of beautiful beaches and stunning scenery – it is a treasure trove of history with so many legends attached.
Climb the ramparts and explore the castle to understand Edward I and his plans to tame the unruly Welsh!
Castle Street, Beaumaris LL58 8BP
Walk through the courtroom, stand in the original dock and view the splendour of the grand jury room. Built in 1614 and renovated in the 19th century this is one of the oldest courthouses in Britain. Today cases are heard once a year.
Built Steeple Lane, Beaumaris LL58 8EP
in 1829, this Victorian gaol features the only original treadmill in situ in Britain and a gibbet is still fixed to the outer wall. A nursery above the women’s workroom has a slit in the floor through which mothers could, by pulling a rope, rock their babies’ cradles without stopping working. Executions were a huge local attraction – but happily there were only ever two!
Plas Cadnant Gardens
Cadnant Road, Menai Bridge LL59 5NH
An incredible garden described as one of North Wales’s best kept secrets ! There is a walled garden, secret valley garden and an upper woodland garden. The new owner has an incredible eye for detail and has restored this garden with sympathy and passion in equal measures. Tours take place on a regular basis and are well worth signing up for.
Britannia and Menai Bridge
Mona Rd, Menai Bridge LL59 5EA
Visit the Thomas Telford Centre in Menai Bridge to learn all about the Telford Suspension Bridge (opened 1826) and The Britannia Bridge (opened 1850) – originally built to carry rail traffic it was converted to carry motor traffic too in 1970 after a serious fire.
The Belgium Promenade
Mona Road, Menai Bridge LL59 5EA
Built between 1914 -1916, by a group of refugees from Mechelen in Belgium as a thank you for the island’s hospitality. Cross the causeway and visit the Church of St Tysilio. It is from here that you can look at both bridges and the enjoy the Menai Straits. Walk along the promenade and you will be able to look up at The Menai Suspension Bridge and truly understand its magnificent structure. Look down the Straits to Ynys Gorad Goch( island), whose residents once made a living from the fish caught at the traps built there. During high tides the island is often covered by the sea – an incredible site to see its house “floating” on water!
Penmon, LL58 8RN
A trip to visit Penmon Lighthouse is a must. Built in 1838, as a result of so many lives being lost on the shores of Anglesey, it is an incredibly beautiful sight. Puffin Island and all its medieval ruins can be seen from the shore. Cross over to the lighthouse at low tide and look up at its majestic structure. Listen to its bell that still rings to warn ships of the rocky shore.
Church and Dovecote Penmon LL58 8RN
A fascinating site of a monastery dating back to the time of St Seriol who was believed to have lived in the 6th century. Stunning church, dovecote and holy well.
Llanfairpwll, Anglesey LL61 6DQ
Built in the 18th century by Lord Newborough and now run by the National Trust. This house has incredible gardens and breathtaking views. A Rex Whistler mural grace the walls within along with an incredible art collection. Look out for various events that are run by the National Trust – Halloween fun, Christmas Fayres and woodland festivals are but a few examples.
Parys Mountain, Amlwch LL68 9RE
At its peak, Parys Mountain was the greatest copper mine in the world. So influential was Amlwch and Anglesey copper that the British navy under Lord Nelson used the metal for sheathing its ships and for use in manufacturing cannons. However, the real surge in mining production and export occured during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. Apparently, in March 1768 the records show that a local miner, Roland Puw, was rewarded for playing a big role in discovering a big copper ore deposit near the surface of Parys mountain. He was given a rent-free house for life and a bottle of brandy for his efforts! The new centre tells the story of copper mining in Amlwch dating back to the Bronze Age. It features the stories of the mine owners, workers and the famous Copper Ladies. Open 11-15 except Monday Easter to the end of October.
Amlwch LL68 9HE
The port at Amlwch is one of the best-preserved mineral exporting harbours in Wales. The old quay is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Elizabeth I in order for the copper ore to be exported from Mynydd Parys to South Wales, where the Crown smelters were housed. The Heritage Centre tells its story and of those who worked there all their lives. There is a cafe and shop.
Church in the Sea, Aberffraw
Ty Croes LL63 5YR
St Cwyfan’s is known as the Church in the Sea – and for good reason! The church can only be reached at low tide, and on foot. Old maps show the 12th century church standing on the mainland of Anglesey, but erosion by the sea of the boulder clay cliffs has since separated the church from the mainland. The original site was founded in the 7th Century.
Holyhead Maritime Museum
Newry Beach, Holyhead LL65 1YD
The museum is a fascinating experience for the whole family. Step back in time at the oldest lifeboat station in Wales (circa. 1858), which houses a wonderful collection of exhibits telling the fascinating maritime history of Holyhead. Examine detailed models of ships sailing the Irish Sea over 100 years ago and compare them to the modern technically advanced vessels of today. Learn about local shipwrecks and the lifeboatmen who saved so many lives. Part of the museum’s complex is the permanent exhibition “Holyhead at War” housed in a Second World War air raid shelter situated alongside the Maritime Museum.
South Stack, Holyhead
Holyhead, LL65 1YH
South Stack is one of Wales’ most spectacular lighthouses, situated on Holy Island on the North West coast of Anglesey.It has been a warning beacon of the treacherous rocks below, for passing ships since it’s construction in 1809.There are over 400 stone steps down to the island, and as you take each one, you can marvel at the awesome geology of the cliff faces, where over 4,000 pairs of seabirds nest during the summer Until 1828 when a bridge was built, the only means of crossing the deep water channel on to the island was in a basket which was suspended on a hempen cable. Sadly, in 1983 the bridge had to be closed to the public, due to safety reasons. In 1998 however, a new aluminium bridge was built, and once again the island and all it’s spender was opened to the public. The 91ft lighthouse was designed by David Alexander and the mail light is visible to passing vessels for 28 miles! It was automated in 1998. South Stack Cafe has great cakes! There is also a visitor centre, called Ellin’s Tower where you can watch the Fulmars, Guillemots, Puffins and Razorbill birds.
St Patrick’s Church Llanbadrig LL67 0HH
This lovely little church is rich in history and well worth a visit. Believed to be the oldest Christian site in all Wales, it dates back to at least 440 AD, not long after the Roman army left Britain. It is a wonderful place to sit quietly. Look out to Middle Mouse Island (Ynys Badrig) and listen to the nesting seabirds sounding their presence. Legend has it is that it is on this island that St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was shipwrecked.
Llaneilian, Amlwch, Isle of Anglesey LL68 9LT
This peaceful church was visited by the medieval pilgrims who came to worship at the garve, holy well and chapel of St Eilian. It is 2 miles east of Amlwch. St Eilian’s church is well-known on Anglesey for its unusual pyramidal spire and the wooden carvings and paintings inside.
Llangefni, Anglesey Isle of Anglesey LL77 7TQ
Anglesey’s purpose-built museum and art gallery. The History Gallery provides a fascinating insight into the island’s culture, history and environment. Visit the exhibition of works by Kyffin, Tunnicliffe and the Massey sisters.
Neolithic Burial Site
Inhabited for at least 10,000 years, there is an intense concentration of Neolithic burial sites on the island. Bryn Celli Du (Llanddaniel Fab, LL61 6EQ, Trefignath Burial Chamber (off the B4545 to Trearddur – Cyttir Road) and Barclodiad y Gawres (Llanfaelog, LL63 5TE ) are highly recommended.
Trefignath Burial Chamber
The site is in the care of CADW. Excavation here from 1978-1982 showed that the buildings range in date by more than 1,000 years. Fascinating.
Porth Wen Brickworks
nr Burwen, LL68 9RS
On the north coast of Anglesey, a few miles west of Amlwch, are the remains of a brickworks. It was opened at the turn of the last century to make refractory bricks for use in the steel industry. The bricks were exported by sea from the works’ own harbour. The whole operation closed down at the start of the World Way One and most of it has slowly rusted away ever since. Follow the Anglesey Coastal Path in order to access this site.
St Cybi’s Church, Holyhead
68-82 Market Street, Holyhead LL65 1UW
Caer Gybi is a rectangular fort .The wall is extremely well preserved. Traditionally the fort is the site of a Christian Monastic foundation granted by King Maelgwyn of Gwynedd to St. Cybi. The present Parish Church built between 13th to 16th centuries stands on the site of the church built by St. Cybi within the walls of the fort. The chancel is the earliest part of the structure and was originally part of the 13th Century Church cruciform in shape, with battlement parapets. Internally and externally, the Church has much architectural interest. Also within the walls of the Roman fort, is the 14th Century Eglwys Y Bedd (Church of the Grave).The Roman Fort and St. Cybi’s Church can be found in the main street of Holyhead.
Swtan, Church Bay
You will see Swtan as you descend toward Church Bay LL65 4EU
A fully restored example of a 17th century Welsh thatched cottage situated in the picturesque village of Church Bay. Owned by the National Trust but run by the “Friends of Swtan”. Restored in around 1900. Open Easter to September, Fri, Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays.
Holyhead Breakwater Park
Holyhead LL65 1YG
106 acres of amazing beauty. Visitors can watch the amazing variety of wildlife, admire the incredible scenery, set against the backdrop of spectacular Holyhead Mountain and lovely views of the Irish Sea. Facilities at the Park include an Information Centre, Shop, Toilets and free parking. For those interested in the Park’s background… this is situated on the site of a former quarry. Stone was quarried here to provide stone for the building of the Holyhead Breakwater, 7,000,000 million tonnes, to be exact. The Breakwater was completed in 1875. After the Breakwater was constructed, the Quarry became a Brickworks. At the Park, one can view the old Brickshed and the ‘Crusher Building’. The ‘Crusher Building’ was where the raw materials, to make the Bricks, was crushed. The Park is a great place to be, open all year round and no entrance fee!
Llanfaethlu, LL65 4NY.
Carreglwyd is a country house in Llanfaethlu which was built in 1634 by Dr William Griffiths. He was the Chancellor of St Asaph and Master of the Rolls to Charles the First. His grandfather, Sir William Griffiths had been the Rector of Llanfaethlu for 44 years. Carreglwyd was re-modelled in the late 18th Century. Today it is open to the public during May and during the year for the woodland walks and is also a great venue for weddings and conferences.