It’s time to leave Holy Island and cross the Stanley Embankment to rejoin the rest of Anglesey. This causeway – also known as The Cob – was built in 1823-4 by Thomas Telford, the same engineer who built the elegant Menai Suspension Bridge.
Sadly, the Stanley Embankment is not nearly as beautiful as the Menai bridge. Ugly in fact. Starkly functional and a seemingly very long walk.
As I get near to the end, I look across the water at the bank where the coastal path runs. On my map there is an alternative inland route and this implies that the path along the shore might be impassable at high tide. It looks dry from here.
I discover the path along the shore is not really a path at all. It’s an ankle-twisting scramble over rocks, pebbles and loose shingle. The low cliff on my right shows signs of recent erosion, with mud slips and rock falls. Although the tide is going out, the beach curves away and I can’t see the end, so I begin to wonder if I’ll be able to make it.
Rounding the curve I’m relieved to see the shore remains clear of water. Sill plenty of rocks.
Someone comes down a little footpath and joins the beach ahead of me. A dog walker.
I enjoy this section of the walk. The day is still hazy but the sunlight is stronger, filtering through a thin layer of clouds above. I look across the water to Holyhead Mountain and the tall chimney of the aluminium works.
Ahead is the mouth of the estuary which leads up to the village of Llanfachraeth, my destination for today. Seagulls and oyster catchers are paddling around in the mud at the edge of the water.
I come to a point of low-lying land that marks the beginning of the estuary. Here is a white house and a large sign.
PENRHYN BACH FARM
Trespass at your own risk!
What? No! The foreshore is the area between the low and high tide marks, and can’t be privately owned. It’s usually the property of The Crown, unless the Crown has leased it to the military or some other authority.
These attempts to claim private rights to a beach always annoy me intensely. I’m tempted to take no notice of the sign and continue. But the shore looks rocky and I can’t see what the terrain is like underfoot around the end of the point. Perhaps it turns into marsh and mud? Or ends in a sharp and impassable barrier of rocks?
Still feeling aggrieved, I follow the official coastal path as it cuts across the point, passing on the landward side of the white house, and reach the bank of the estuary.
Here is another, identical sign with the same warning about the ‘private’ foreshore. But there also seems to be a clear path around the point. So I’m sure you could walk this route after all, if the tide is low. Clearly people do. And someone else has also been irritated by the sign and has daubed it with red paint.
The walk up the estuary is one of the best parts of the day. Nobody in sight. A clear path. Lovely honey-scented gorse.
And the river is bright and wide, with sand banks dotted by wading birds.
I guess the path is muddy in the winter. Perhaps that’s the reason I meet nobody else and why there is an alternative route for the Wales Coast Path that follows the road further inland. But mud isn’t a problem today. In fact, stretches of boardwalk help me cross the boggy areas. I wonder if the Silver Slashers have been at work here too.
The only people I see are farmers in the distance, with their tractors busy in the fields on both sides of the river. Here’s a blue one…
… and a green one…
… oh, and a red one.
Otherwise I’m alone in the landscape. The only sign that people come this way is the occasional traffic cone sitting in the mud!
A couple of miles along the river, and I come to more walkways and see a footbridge ahead.
The bridge over the river looks brand new. I wonder if it’s been built with EU money, but can’t see any notice to confirm this. It’s elegant and must have been constructed especially for the Isle of Anglesey coast path, because there is no other reason to have a crossing here, as far as I can see. Anyway, it’s much appreciated.
The coast path continues along the opposite bank of the river, but I don’t turn left to follow it. Instead I turn right and head towards Llanfachraeth, another unpronounceable Welsh village. There is another, much less elegant, bridge to cross over…
… and then a quiet lane to take me up to the village. I pass a men-at-work road sign, but there are no men about and no work happening. I wonder if this is where the traffic cones came from?
I’ve parked my car close to the village’s convenience store. It’s an unmissable landmark due to being painted a bold yellow-orange colour. And here I see my last tractor of the day. The farmer has obviously nipped into the store on his way home.
Today’s walk has been extraordinarily varied and took me far longer than I expected. Wonder what tomorrow will hold. Unfortunately, the BBC forecast is for rain.
Miles walked today = 9.5 miles
Wales Coast Path so far = 914.5 miles
Total distance around the coast: 2,421.5 miles