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A Week of Mixed Weather on Anglesey
02/10/12The last week in September saw us at Penrhos Caravan Club site on the Isle of Anglesey. We had to take our daughter back to Bangor University on 21st and so decided to make the most of the opportunity by taking a short holiday. We had high hopes of glorious late Sepember weather but it turned out mixed to say the least. In fact the wettest September for 100 years, with a month's worth of rain in 24 hours on the Monday. Still, we made the most of the good weather and enjoyed the cosiness of the van when it was wet, although at one point we did wonder if the tide had reached the site.
Our journey on the Friday went well and we soon had the van set up and returned to Bangor to drop Beth off. When we arrived back at the site, after enjoying a meal together in Bangor, it was pitch dark and the night was spangled with stars. And what a sky! We are used to looking at the night sky through the light pollution of Grimsby, but here it was non-existent and the Milky Way arched acrcoss the heavens. What a magical experience.
Saturday dawned bright and sunny and was to remain so for the remainder of the day. We spent it relaxing in the sun and exploring the sout east corner of the island, making our way to Penmon Point in time for afternoon tea. Lunch, however, was spent walking around Moelfre Point and, as well as our sandwiches, enjoying extensive views of the coast. After lunch we visited Din Lligwy where there was a well preserved Romano-British settlemnet, a 4000 year old burial chamber and the ruins of a medieval chapel. What a find! Next it was time to head to Beaumaris and onto Penmon Point. We decided to stay here and watch the light change on Puffin Island and the lighthouse as the sun sank in the west. The sunset was stunning and I captured some pleasing images of the lighthouse and island. While we were here there were wheatears flitting around as they passed through on migration and turnstones busily feeding on the rocks.
I set my alarm early the next day and was up well before dawn. As forecast, the sky was clear and I headed off back to Penmon Point for the sunrise. Again I captured some very pleasing images. On the way back for breakfast I noticed that Pentraeth Woodlands were the haunt of red squirrels but on carrying out some research found out, sadly, that the Anglesey population had been decimated by a virus. Certainly we never found any.
After breakfast we headed for Amlwch port. It was not what I expected and was rather grim and foreboding - a deep cleft in the cliffs with the sad air of its industrial past. After sandwiches in a sheltered spot we riitred to the old sail loft for a coffee. Here there was a fascinating display on the loft itself and of the harbour. It turned out that the little port was used to ship out the copper ore from the nearby copper mines on Parys Mountain. There had also been a small shipbuilding industry.
The next port of call was Parys Mountain itself. This is a fascinating, other world spot, which would make a splendid location for Dr Who. The top of the mountain has been hollowed out in the search for copper ore, largely by hand, by miners from the past. Again the history of this dangerous industry is fascinating. The surrounding rocks and spoil heaps are a myriad colours resulting from the array of minerals in them and made colourful photographs.
After popping in to sea Beth and deliver her surf board it was time to return to the van for a cosy evening and to batten down for the coming storm.
The less said about the next sixty hours the better. One word describes it - rain; of biblical proportions!!
Wednesday still dawned wet, but suffering from cabin fever, we headed off to Llandudno as Heather wanted to visit the Mostyn Gallery and we fancied a trip up onto the Great Orme which is where we headed for lunch. There were wonderfully expansive views from here and we saw and photographed the wild cashmere goats that live on the headland. The weather by now had begun to improve and, after a quick stop over in Bangor tp see Beth, we headed up the fast A55 across the island to South Stack for sunset photography of the lighthouse. The view from up here is amazing: steep, precipitous cliffs, deep, green-blue sea and extensive sea views with the lighthouse perched below. The sunset was beautiful and lit up the towering cumulonimbus clouds to the south a glroious pink. We were perfectly positioned for the sun to sink behind the lighthouse. All around us choughs wheeled and called in the gathering twilight. A magnificent end to the day.
Up early on Thursday as I was meeting up with my brother for a day in the mountains of Snowdonia. Peter had walked all the Welsh 3000s earlier in the year but had had a day of bad weather on the suouthern Carneddau and fancied doing them again in the hope of some good views. He was to be disappointed. As we left Heather to walk up into Cwm Idwal and then to retire to Betwsy Coed for tea and stickies, we had high hopes of the cloud clearing as we set off from the cars. Unforunately as we gained height on the Pen Yr Helgi Du ridge we entered low cloud before the final steep pull up to Carnedd Llewellyn. The remainder of the time spent on the summits was in thick cloud with intermittent rain, but, as we left the cairn on Carnedd Daffydd and lost a bit of altitude, the cloud begain to clear. On the descent from Pen Yr Ole Wen we enjoyed better and better views especially of Tryfan and the Glyders beyond, still swathed in cloud and towering over Cwm Bochlwyd and Cwnm Idwal.
One of the joys of the mountains and, indeed Anglesey, are the ravens with their deep raucous croaking, a sound that is unfamiliar in Lincolnshire. There are also plentiful buzzards and we woke to the mewing call of one every morning.
On our final day we met up with our niece Amy and friend Anna for a day at Newborough. Although Amy and Anna had retreated from the mountains due to the heavy rain, we had sunny skies on Anglesey. Out walk took us through the forest where we were pleased to see plentiful common darter and migrant hawker dragonflies hunting in the late season sun. Typically I had the wrong lens as I would have liked shots of the migrant hawkers. From the forest we made our way through the dunes where we found delightful tiny dune pansies and sea holly and continued onto the beach. The walk along the beach was bracing in the stiff breeze but everyone enjoyed some beachcombing, always an entralling activity. Ynys Llanddwyn island was wonderful; projecting out finger-like into the bay it gave beautiful views across to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsular with gleaming white beaches in the foreground. I was also interested to discover that some of the rock outcrops on the beach were, in fact, pillow lavas produced millenia ago by an undersea volcano.
All in all and despite the deluge, a wonderful week.