241b Holyhead to Llanfachraeth

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.

a01 Stanley Embankment, Ruth's coastal walk, Holyhead

Sadly, the Stanley Embankment is not nearly as beautiful as the Menai bridge. Ugly in fact. Starkly functional and a seemingly very long walk.

a02 Stanley Embankment to Valley, Ruth on the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

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.

a03 Newlands Parc, Valley, Ruth walking through Anglesey

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.

a04 beach by Newlands Park, Ruth's coastal walk, Isle of Anglesey

Rounding the curve I’m relieved to see the shore remains clear of water. Sill plenty of rocks.

a05 Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, Ruth hiking near Valley

Someone comes down a little footpath and joins the beach ahead of me. A dog walker.

a06 end of beach, Ruth walking the Wales Coast Path, Anglesey

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.

a07 view back to Holyhead Mountain, Ruth Livingstone

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.

a08 mouth of the estuary up to Llanfachraeth, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

Private Foreshore
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.

a09 private foreshore sign, Penrhyn bach, Ruth's coastal hike, Anglesey

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.

a10 deviation Penrhyn Bach, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

a11 Penrhyn Bach sign, Ruth's coastal walk, Anglesey

The walk up the estuary is one of the best parts of the day. Nobody in sight. A clear path. Lovely honey-scented gorse.

a12 Anglesey coast path, Ruth hiking up estuary to Llanfachraeth

And the river is bright and wide, with sand banks dotted by wading birds.

a13 estuary walking, Ruth hiking the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path

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.

a14 boardwalk, Llanfachraeth estuary, Ruth's coastal walk

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…

a15 blue tractor, Ruth Livingstone hike

… and a green one…


a17 green tractor, Ruth Livingstone coastal walking

… oh, and a red one.

a18 red tractor, Ruth's coastal walk, Anglesey

Otherwise I’m alone in the landscape. The only sign that people come this way is the occasional traffic cone sitting in the mud!

 traffic cone, Llangachraeth estuary, Ruth's coastal walk, Anglesey

A couple of miles along the river, and I come to more walkways and see a footbridge ahead.

approaching Llanfachraeth

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.

a20 bridge over river, Llangachraeth, Ruth's coastal walk

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…

a21 another bridge, Ruth hiking to Llanfachraeth from Valley

… 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?

a22 men working, Llanfachraeth, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

a23 another red tractor and convenience store, Llanfachraeth

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


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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11 Responses to 241b Holyhead to Llanfachraeth

  1. I would have been extremely annoyed with that sign about the ‘private’ foreshore. I’m sure you are right about the land between the tides being Crown Property and thus available to all. So the term trespass is threatening and if I lived in the area would be taking up with the local authorities.So much for a coastal path designation.
    I was impressed with the number of tractors you saw, I never seem to see a soul working in the fields.

    • It was a subtly threatening sign, wasn’t it. Very irritating.
      Yes, it is unusual to see so many tractors. Our farms have become like mechanised factories, where you rarely see a human being. It think it must be very lonely being a farmer.

  2. Unfortunately, it’s a misconception that there is no privately-owned foreshore in the UK—it’s one of those well-known facts that turns out not to be factual. The Crown Estate owns about 55% of the foreshore and the rest is owned by “the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, Local Authorities, RSPB, National Trust, MoD and some is in the ownership of private individuals” to quote a Crown Estates shoreline management document I’ve just found by Googling. It adds that there is a legal presumption that any foreshore belongs to the Crown Estate unless the owner can prove otherwise.

    • Oooh, so you could be accused of trespassing if you walked along the foreshore, after all. But I guess you could always just say “prove it” and carry on. By the time they came back with the documents (if they ever did) you’d be long gone 🙂

  3. Gayle says:

    That footbridge was installed specifically for the Coast Path, and was funded by the Welsh Government, European Regional Development Fund and Anglesey County Council. The information about it is in the ‘Permanent Route Changes’ section of the Welsh Coast Path website, which for the Anglesey section is here: http://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/explore-by-area/isle-of-anglesey/path-news/?lang=en

    • Ah. Thank you for the info. It’s a lovely bridge with some really nicely designed panels in along the sides. I’m always amazed to find so much time, trouble and expense has gone into making life easy for us coastal walkers 🙂 And grateful too.

  4. I like that new footbridge over the river, it looks really nice – something I must seek out for myself in the near future.

    The blue tractor would be a Ford, the green one a Deutz Fahr, and the red one an older model Massey Ferguson; the one outside the village shop is a newer Massey Ferguson.

    The outside of the shop is certainly very bright, I don’t think I’ve seen any buildings on Anglesey so bright before.

    • You certainly know your tractors!
      Premier Stores colours are yellow and purple, and it’s always good to spot a store because, as I’m sure you’ve found, they have shops in places where the bigger supermarkets don’t go. Don’t think I’ve seen one where the whole building was painted yellow before!

      • Tractors, and tractor driving, (especially vintage ones) was a great hobby of mine when my ex and I were together and I’ve got loads of books on the subject. We split up seven years ago but even now I still ‘tractor spot’ when I’m out and about – sad I know, it’s probably worse than train spotting! 🙂

  5. Marie Keates says:

    Those misleading farmers signs irritate me too. I’m not surprised someone vandalised the one you saw.

    • Yes. Although Ju (aka the Helpful Mammal) pointed out above that parts of the foreshore might perhaps be owned by private individuals, I prefer to think The Crown owns it all, in one way or another.

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