Red Wharf

The first of the guests to stay here at Deri Fawr, in the self catering accommodation units arrives.

During their first full night the gas supplying the stove in the unit runs out and I spend a frantic half hour stumbling around in the mud, dark and freezing rain finding and reconnecting a full gas bottle.

They are brother and sister. The woman Virginia has been living in Kuwait with her husband teaching English and has returned to the UK to supervise renovations to a unit they have purchased in Red Wharf. Her brother Fred has accompanied her to give her a hand.

Long time guests and friends of Paul and Mavis we invite them into the main house for a chat and cup of coffee on arrival.

Virginia advises us that the tidal plains of Red Wharf are not to be missed and when a rainy morning turns into a blue dappled afternoon we seize our chance.

Having not yet had lunch we have a delicious meal at the Old Boat House restaurant which is immediately across the road from the tidal plain.

The tide is low when we set out. For a hundred meters or so we follow the bitumen road before making our way down a ramp and across the round waterworn smooth rocks gathered at its base out onto the sandy expanse that lies awaiting our bootprints.

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Afternoon sun at our backs we stride towards the sea. To our left an outcrop of rock that has resisted eons of erosion forms a safe haven for nesting gulls.

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Patchworks of dark forest and green hedged squares across the expanse of sand and water to our right rise to the hilltop between Red Wharf and Beaumaris.

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Penmon, where we plan to go should weather allow it, lies at the sea point of this green finger.

On the far side a horse and rider fly across the sands.

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Many people are walking their dogs on the sand and we are missing our boy Ivan who would love running wild in this beautiful place.

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The imprint of surface waves shows frozen in the wet mini dunes left behind in the sand by the tide.

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Out to sea ships are anchored awaiting their place in the harbour queue.

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We think of our friend and Kotor guide Rino and my brother in law Steve who have spent so much of their lives at sea.

Turning left past seaweed covered rocks at the junction of sand and sea we see the coastal village Benllech where we have bought some of our supplies and decide to turn around.

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Grey clouds press in from the West once more. Rain is falling lightly by the time we make the car.

Penmon

Mad winds and horizontal rain have us pinned within the stone walls of Deri Fawr for days.

We make a break in the afternoon of the next day the rain slows. It is Penmon or bust.

Waters flooding over the bridge on the narrow country lane we wind our way along to the main road bring us to a stop.

I have been washed from a bridge into the disorienting embrace of boiling river flood waters while riding a motorbike in my youth and am loath to ever repeat that particular near death experience.

Circumstances are very different today, I have driven this stretch of road many times, the bridge is stone on both sides and the water lying over the top is neither running nor that deep.

I press on slowly, cautiously and we make the other side of the water unscathed.

Following the roads previously travelled to Beaumaris we pause beside the road to take photos of the rolling green hills and the snow capped Snowdon range beyond.

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Continuing on to Beaumaris we pause again to get a shot of the jetty and Menai Strait.

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Beyond the town we head East via the road leading alongside the Menai Strait waters.

Pam has read that it is best to park beside Penmon Priory and the Church of St Seiriol and walk to Trwyn Du (black point) as apparently there is a charge associated with driving the last few kilometers of road.

Rain is falling lightly on the windshield by the time we reach the parking area and I can see no evidence of anyone charging fees. We press on.

At the end of the road we park beside whitewashed stone buildings built on a stony outcrop facing the waters of Menai Strait and the mainland beyond.

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By the time we alight the previous cold temperatures of the day have become frigid.

Panoramic views across the bay to Conway and Great Orm lie under suddenly blue patches of sky.

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Trwyn Du lighthouse built 1836 – 1838 warns ships of submerged rocks off the shore. It’s 15000 candela strong beam can apparently be seen 21km away. A mournful fog bell chimes every 30 seconds regardless of weather conditions.

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Puffin Island, an uninhabited inclined plateau of limestone lies 800m off Angleseys most Eastern tip beyond the lighthouse. A 32ha bird watchers paradise it is home to gulls, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes and shags and cormorant, and of course puffins in dwindling numbers

We wander along the rocks towards Menai Strait before returning and crunching a short distance along the stony beach on the other side of the lighthouse.

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Blue patches of sky from a half hour ago have flown as grey from the West presses in once more.

Even I have my beanie and gloves on today and am very glad of their warmth when ice begins suddenly bouncing off the skin of my face.

Light rain has become sleet.

I leave my thin gloves on as we drive back towards Beaumaris. We notice a shop selling baby clothes and stop to buy an outfit to post back to Brisbane for our new nephew Laken.

Inside the store the lady assisting us tells us there has been snow falling in parts of Anglesey during the day. I tell her of the sleet at Trwyn Du.

Rejoining the main road at Pentraeth suddenly the air is filled swirling with white snowflakes.

For the first time in my life I am driving in falling snow.

Pam and I are laughing like little children. For people used to such conditions this would probably be an inconvenience, for us it is a huge adventure.

Pam takes photos through the car windows as we drive.

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I take an alternative route to miss the flooded bridge.

A little snow is gathered against the stone walls near the Deri Fawr workshop on our return.

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The well insulated Jemimas seem completely unfazed.

Aberlleiniog Castle

Weeks of rainy days and slow mornings have me now accustomed to waking late.

For no particular reason I wake early on a near cloudless predawn morning. I have realised chances for attempting to catch that beautiful nearby glade I have rhapsodized about in morning sunlight are going to be few and far between.

Carpe Diem. It is now or never.

Leaving Pam to the warmth of the bedding and central heating I set off in the predawn twilight.

I park off the roadside in a little single car park that seems to have been built for just such a purpose, cross the road and start pressing the shutter button.

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As the sun rises over the hill I walk up and down the road over and over again in the rapidly changing light conditions. By now I am obsessed with digitally capturing the vibration of this little glade and its surrounds.

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Apparently completely mad by now I click on and on. Sheep look my way in mirthful pity.

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Despite my best efforts and hundreds of shots the ethereal vibration remains outside the lens. There is no substitute for real life.

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The sun is well and truly climbing the sky by the time I return and conditions remain fine after I have released the ducks into the brightness of the day.

Pam has a plan of action for the day in mind.

Between Beaumaris and Penmon lie the ruins of Aberlleiniog Castle and our task for the day is to find them and explore.

Today on our drive beyond Beaumaris we encounter trees that have been brought down in the strong winds following the rain and have to drive around one fallen trunk that has half closed the road.

After parking in a little picnic area beside the waters of Menai Strait we set off on foot for a couple of hundred meters back up the bitumen road.image

A mud and gravel path veer off from the right of the road and lead us into a little young forest, across a wooden bridge crossing a little stream over a small hill and to the low ruins beyond.

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This structure has lain untended for many many years and roots have had their way here. Today the space within the walls is filled with soil and grass. The ‘castle’ would have been more of a small fort in its prime. Our walk around the walls takes only a few minutes.

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During our walk towards and around the small ruins grey clouds have been once more scudding in from the West.

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We return to our car and back to Beaumaris where we have some lunch and think about options for the afternoon.

Oriel Ynys Mon museum and art gallery at Llangefni should be interesting and surely not weather dependent.

The art gallery shows works from local artists and I draw a polite rebuke from one of the attendants as I take photos of some of the paintings.

Apparently I am breeching copyright.

Not expecting to do more than visit the ruins we have not brought the iphone with us and our attempt at returning to Deri Fawr without google maps finds us on new and unfamiliar roads.

Perhaps this is good fortune.

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A shot of wind turbines against the last blue patches of the sky rounds out a photography filled day.

PLL

Pam and Mick

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