Off to Wales for this week’s walk. Ronnie takes us to a magical island.
Normally our Friday walks take place relatively near to where we live. So we can spend most of the day walking and enjoying ourselves. But today we decided to go further away. On a walk that we know is special. We first did it three years ago, just before Sarah had some major surgery. It’s in her book, but we’ve not written about it on here before.
It’s about a ninety mile drive from Liverpool. Around the North Wales coast, past Bangor and first left after crossing the Menai Straits to the island of Anglesey, Ynys Mon. Then around the southern coast of the island to the village of Newborough. This was set up in around 1280 by the brutal English invader Edward 1 as the new forced home of inhabitants from elsewhere on the island, as he wanted to build himself a castle and a new home, Beaumaris, where they used to live. (Edward went on to become the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ – he just didn’t like us Celts did he?)
Newborough (or Niwbwrch as it is in Welsh) these days is just a small village, and we turn left again at its centre, drive through a pine forest and park by the sand hills at the edge of the sea.
And then, like always on this walk, we pause. Because we know that we’re about to have our breath taken away. When we emerge from the sand hills.
And from now on, this isn’t the kind of walk where you’re always looking ahead to the next thing. We’re always looking behind too, at the mountains and the clouds, as they hide them, shadow them, and reveal them.
We’re making for Ynys Llanddwyn, a small island in the opposite direction from Snowdonia.
Though in truth , it’s only an island for an hour or so a day, during the highest of tides.
Going up on to the island there’s a notice board telling some mythical tale about why the island is a magical place, involving one of the 24 daughters of some king. All nonsense. But it is magical, a celebration of nature and geology.
The rocks we are now stepping up onto are pre-cambrian. Amongst the oldest things on earth, at least 550 million years old. And the thin, sandy soil on the rocks is home to thousands of nesting birds. And millions of wildflowers.
Bluebells are the most obvious wildflowers, but they’re not alone. And Sarah is soon having a feast of identifying with her beloved book. ‘It’s rare, but it’s plentiful around here!’ she keeps exclaiming, crouched down as another treasure is discovered.
We’ve been here for hours now. Walking, filming, photographing, identifying and reading. And it’s such a perfect day we don’t want it to end. Or not yet anyway.
So we drive down the coast a bit.