A UK Coastal Trip – Llandudno

Llanfairfechan

This charming town lies off the North Wales Highway. Under the railway line, the wide, open promenade runs along the coast lined by picturesque Victorian houses.

Penmaenmaur

An old quarrying town, it is now noted for spectacular mountain & coastal walks. The old Edwardian promenade was lost in the process of building the A55 along the coast.

Llandudno

The white-painted terraces, ornate hotels & tea rooms glisten in the sun. Known as the Queen of the Welsh Resorts, this ever-popular seaside town is a rich hive of history and memories. A mining settlement turned thriving tourist hotspot, it is famous for its Victorian architecture and stunning scenery. The present pier opened in 1877.

Penrhyn Bay

This small farming community grew from the 1850s with the quarrying of local limestone. The town had its own  narrow gauge railway. This all closed in 1936 and the town expanded to become a desirable suburb of Llandudno.

 

Rhos-on-Sea (Llandrillo-yn-Rhos)

The long, flat seafront walkway to Colwyn Bay runs along the top of the sandy beach, taking in Rhos-on-Sea’s breakwater and pretty harbour. Equipment for kayaking, surfing & other seaside activities stands at the edge, ready for use.

A UK Coastal Trip – Beaumaris

Benllech

This is a popular holiday destination with its gently shelving clean, soft sand. A café guards the ramp. There are public houses & hotels, camping & caravan sites and several B&Bs.

Red Wharf Bay

Red Wharf is bordered by salt marshes and sand dunes, a nature reserve attracting lots of bird life. The village, with its three restaurants, is virtually at the water’s edge.

Beaumaris

This is a gem of an historic walled town with narrow, cobbled streets and arched gateways through high walls. In 1295, Edward I, having conquered Wales, commissioned the building of Beaumaris Castle as part of a chain of fortifications around the North Wales coast and the town became the main commercial centre of Anglesey. The pier opened in 1846, a masonry jetty on wooden & concrete pilings and a busy base for yachts and pleasure vessels of all kinds. Backing onto the walls, elegant Victorian terraces face across the water to Snowdonia.

 

The Swellies

This is the stretch of the Menai Strait between the Britannia and Menai Bridges. Its shoals and rocks cause whirlpools and surges as a result of the tides washing around Anglesey.

Menai Bridge

Menai Bridge is a small town that overlooks the Menai Strait by the Menai Suspension Bridge, built in 1826 by Thomas Telford to take road traffic to/from the mainland.

Bangor

Bangor is the oldest city in Wales and one of the UK’s smallest. Its religious roots go back to the 6th century. It is a lively place with a good shopping scene, a university and lots of leisure facilities. Tourism grew with the building of the road that runs through the town to the bridge over the Strait, in 1826. The pier opened in 1896 for use by pleasure steamers from Liverpool.

A UK Coastal Trip – Amlwch Port

Cemaes

A picturesque village sits on two small bays where boats and fishing vessels moor in front of terraces of painted houses. The shack in the car park takes the parking fee and serves tea & bacon rolls.

Bull Bay

A low, grass-covered bump of cliff overlooks the small bay. A few houses with empty-looking windows gaze at the gently-lapping waters, unflustered by any human activity.

Amlwch Port

In the 18th century the port serves what used to be the world’s largest copper mine. In its day the metal was used for covering the bottom of ships and in the making of coins of the realm. At one point it was the second largest town in Wales. But industry declined and gradually tourism took its place. Now the inner harbour has a museum dedicated to mining and the outer one houses a modern fishing fleet.

Moetfre

A low outcrop with a few parking spaces and a café, looks over the small beach of this picturesque former fishing village, with old fishermen’s cottages fronting the bay.

Treath Bychan

This small rocky beach, at least at high tide, has a sitting audience of caravans on the land behind. A few houses, the sailing club and a toilet block are situated by the sands.

A UK Coastal Trip – Holyhead

Anglesea

Britannia Bridge is the southern crossing to the island of Anglesey across the Menai Strait. In 1845 work began on a tubular bridge of wrought iron, rectangular, box-section spans for carrying rail traffic to link London to Holyhead. Following a fire in 1970 the bridge was redesigned and two decks were built on the original piers to carry rail and road traffic.

Once across, the road cuts across emptying rivers and the south western corner of the island. Most human habitation is away from the shoreline, leaving large wild areas, such as the glorious beaches and woodlands of Newborough Warren & Ynys Llanddwyn.

Aberffraw

 

Rhosneigr

This is a largish village with caravan sites, camp sites, holiday homes and pubs, hotels and cafes. Out of season the place has its own atmosphere. The metal lines on the sailing boats drawn up on the beach, ring harmoniously in the tugging wind. Out at sea, wind & kite surfers snap their sails before soaring off over the spilling waves, taking control of the elements to get that full adrenaline rush.

Four Mile Bridge to Holy Island

Off Anglesey’s western edge, with an area of just 15 square miles, is Holy Island, with its own coastline, notched with tiny coves, sweeping bays and dramatic headlands. Four Mile Bridge dates from 1530 and takes a small lane over the narrow Cymyran Strait which, at either end, opens up into the Irish Sea. A few houses cluster around the crossing. Real excitement is caused by the activities of the Police Diving Team, who are practicing procedures in the shallow waters at the shore’s edge, watched by a single local with a whimsical expression on his face.

Rhoscolyn

A narrow, wiggle of a lane ends at a wide, beach of lovely, soft sand. Building activity is taking place with a lot of work going on renovating/constructing some smart homes.

Treddur

A popular holiday spot, the local waters are good for sea fishing, scuba diving, sailing and some of the best kayaking in the world. It has two golf courses and a couple of hotels.

Holyhead

Holyhead has a character all of its own. Everyone seems to pass through the town on their way elsewhere. Millions of passengers and thousands of vehicles pass through the ferry port each year, across the Irish Sea to Ireland. A port of some kind has been here since Roman times due to its position on the western extremity of the UK. In 1845, an Act of Parliament was passed to enable the construction of a new port. A railway station was opened in 1851 with a direct link to London.

The town centre is built around St. Cybi’s Church, which is built inside the three-walled Roman fort. In a rather shabby high street, £1 shops rub shoulders with pubs offering karaoke nights and fast food outlets. There seems little renovation going on or any effort to revitalise the shopping opportunities in the middle of town. The port and ferry services, with associated shipping businesses, provide most employment opportunities.

Cruise ships do visit. The old jetty, originally used to unload alumina for the now defunct processing plant, is wide enough for coaches to travel down to collect and deliver passengers to the town and on local tours.

A UK Coastal Trip – Caernarfon

Pwllheli

Pwllheli has a long association with the sea. Wines from the continent were landed here and the coast was a haven for smugglers and pirates. It used to be one of the main fishing and ship-building centres in North Wales with nearly 30 ships in production at any one time. With the arrival of the railways it developed into a tourist centre with a sandy beach beside the harbour and a shingle one along the promenade.

Llanbedrog

At the end of narrow lanes lies a large National Trust car park. It is a short walk through shady woods to this popular beach. A smart NT café/restaurant marks your arrival at the soft sands that spread down to the sea. A line of beach huts on one side and a couple of old fishermen’s cottages on the other, stand back in the shade provided by tall trees, unwilling to go out into the full glare of the sun.

Abersoch

Originally a fishing port, Abersoch is now a popular, and rather fashionable,  resort and sailing & water sports’ centre, with fine beaches and a sheltered harbour. This is a bustling village with a good selection of bars, cafes, restaurants and a busy bistro life plus a choice of accommodation and attractions including pony trekking, boat trips and a crafts centre. Lanes lead from the centre to the peaceful harbour and around to the beach of lovely, soft sand, backed by grass-tufted dunes and a line of beach huts.

Aberdaron

Formerly a fishing village, it developed into a shipbuilding centre and a port for exporting limestone, lead, jasper & manganese from the local mines and quarries. The mining collapsed after WWII and the village developed into a holiday resort. Situated on the seashore, St Hywyn’s Church has served this once small community for centuries. Now it sits amongst white-washed properties on the edge of the village.

Porthdinllaen & Morfa Nefyn

These two settlements share the beach, facing each other along the crescent of sand. Porthinllaen is an old fishing village, owned by the National Trust, with a popular pub and the lifeboat station. Morfa Nefyn is quite a lot larger. A single-track road leads through suburban housing, down to beach properties and a manned, beach-warden’s hut.

Dinas Dinlle

Dinas Dinlle is a popular beach. The coast road runs along its upper shore of small pebbles which soon gives way to a vast expanse of firm, golden sand. A café, a large car park and a cluster of houses pin one end. Two slipways provide easy access to the sea. Iron Age remains can be found here. Ornithologists are attracted by its bird populations and anglers by its exceptional bass fishing.

Caernarfon

This walled town with the magnificent Caernarfon Castle, overlooks a small, neat harbour and the Menai Strait. Begun in 1283 by Edward I, Caernarfon was constructed not only as a military stronghold but also as a seat of    government and a royal palace. It was designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome and the dream castle of Welsh myth and legend. Standing at the mouth of the River Seiont, the fortress, with its unique polygonal towers, intimidating battlements and colour banded masonry, dominates the walled town, also founded by the English king. Three centuries later, the ascent of the Tudors to the English throne eased hostilities between the English and the Welsh, resulting in Caernarfon Castle falling into a state of disrepair.

Despite this, the town has flourished, leading to its status as a   major tourist centre and seat of Gwynedd Council, with a thriving harbour and marina. It is home, both within the medieval walls and in the wider suburban areas outside, to numerous guest houses, inns and pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops, making it a popular destination for tourists, holidaymakers and water-sports enthusiasts.

A UK Coastal Trip – Criccieth

Tywyn

A long crescent of beach is divided by a series of regular groynes spread in front of hard sea defences, all constructed to protect bungalows, cafes and blocks of low apartments from the ravages of the weather and erosion.. At the far end is a caravan park.

Fairbourne

This strip of low houses at the mouth of the River Mawddach is losing its battle with the sea. As sea levels rise, it has been identified for locals as an area for ‘managed retreat’.

The crossing point for vehicular traffic is further up the estuary than the rail crossing.

Barmouth

On the other bank of the River Mawddach lies Barmouth. Now a resort town, it grew up around shipbuilding, evidence of which can be seen around the harbour. On the far side of the headland, hotels and guesthouses have grown up fronting onto the sandy beach along with a car park and a collection of seaside amusements with a small funfair.

Llanaber

Just out of the small village the road climbs to open fields, revealing a magnificent view along the coast, even though it is dominated by a carpet of caravans.

Llandanwg

Narrow lanes head over the railway, past caravans and bungalows to soft sands. Harlech Castle overseas a similar route across the golf club, along a wooden walkway through dunes to the beach.

 Portmadog

Situated at the top of a wide channel where two rivers join the sea, this resort town was a vital, busy shipping port for the international slate trade, brought down from Blaenau Ffestiniog on the narrow railway that still operates today. With accommodation, craft shops and restaurants it is an excellent centre from which to explore inland and the coast.

Black Rock Sands

Criccieth

The town developed into an attractive seaside resort from 1868. Its beach has a tranquil atmosphere, lacking an abundance of amusements or arcades. It is perfect for peaceful walks or messing about in the water around the jetty. The castle, prominent on the headland, was taken by Welsh forces in 1404, its walls torn down and set alight, leaving the ruins you see today.

A UK Coastal Trip – Aberystwyth

New Quay

The town was once important for fishing and shipbuilding, with wooden boats being built on the local beaches. The miles of secluded coves around New Quay provided ideal hiding places in the less salubrious, but probably more profitable, trade of smuggling spirits and tobacco. The Pier was built after 1834 and, in 1839, a small stone lighthouse, 30 feet high, was built at its end. A severe storm in 1859 damaged the pier and washed the lighthouse away.

Towards the end of the century, as shipbuilding died out, tourism gradually filled the void with visitors arriving by steamer from Liverpool and Bristol. The earliest motorised bus system was set up by Great Western Railways who established a line from Aberystwyth to Carmarthen in 1860. The buses served to connect local communities to the railway and horse-drawn versions brought visitors from the stations at Aberystwyth and Llandysul in the 1890’s. In the summer, New Quay becomes a bustling and vibrant holiday resort aided by the growth of the caravan industry in areas around the town. The hillside to the north of the town is covered with lines of brightly-painted houses in the shape of a cruise liner.

Aberaeron

The pretty town of Aberaeron developed from a small fishing village in the 1800’s. The Rev Alban Gwynne designed the harbour to hold back the River Aeron, creating calm waters, today used mostly by recreational craft. At the time there was also a thriving shipbuilding industry when dockyards built both sail and steam vessels. Many of the houses that we see today stem from this time and were built in the Regency style. Many occupants, being seafaring men who travelled the world during the Victorian age, often named their houses after far-off exotic places. it is a popular resort with numerous hotels and restaurants for visiting tourists along with many other attractions. A wooden pedestrian bridge crosses the estuary upstream.

Llanrhystud & Llanon

 

Aberystwyth

The working part of town is to the south where a terrace of brightly-coloured fisherman’s houses line the pebble beach with the harbour behind the end of the promenade. A blunt, rocky headland is the site of the castle which has been here since 1277. It was razed to the ground by Parliamentary troops in 1649 but three ruined towers still remain to wander around and feel its history.

The bluff divides the town’s two beaches. It marks the end of the north beach where much of the seaside activities take place. A visit to Aberystwyth is impossible without a walk or jog along the mile-long Victorian promenade. The seafront boasts the oldest pier in Wales, built in 1864, which offers the second-best vantage point of the town.  The best vantage point is at the end of north beach at the top of Constitution Hill, 150 metres in height, accessible via the longest cliff railway in Britain. At the top, the world’s largest Camera Obscura provides a bird’s eye view of more than 1000 square miles, in a 360 degree sweep around Aberystwyth. with superb views of the town itself. The promenade is also famous for the sighting of starling murmurations.

Brynowen & Borth

From the hill above the bungalows and Brynowen Holiday Park, the wide, pebble beach can be seen stretching through the village of Borth.

Sand is exposed at low tide as is an ancient, submerged forest where stumps of oak , pine, birch, willow and hazel can be seen. A closer look at this strip settlement shows a line of low housing, bunkered down for protection behind the tall sea defences.

Ynyslas

The extensive sand dunes of Ynylas mask the caravans and chalets that line the coast side of a narrow peninsula. At the end, where it meets the meanders of the River Dovey, is a vast area of flat sand that acts as a car park,looking over to the village of Aberdyfi on the far bank.

Aberdyfi

Aberdyfi was founded around the harbour and shipbuilding, but is now a popular seaside with a family-friendly beach. The centre of the village is on the river and seafront, around the original wharfs and jetty and stretching back from the coast and up the steep hillside.