Holy Island – in Welsh Ynys Gybi: ‘St Cybi’s Island’ – lies off Anglesey’s western shore separated only by sandbanks and by a narrow winding channel. This is a beautiful island made up of green fields, of rocky shores and of sandy beaches. The island takes in the port of Holyhead, as well as unspoilt coast. Trearddur Bay is the main holiday centre.
Today’s visitors are attracted by the varied landscape, coastline with idyllic sandy beaches and rocky coves, and by the sights of a bustling port.
Holyhead’s heritage is celebrated by at a Maritime Museum. Nearby, at the foot of the low mountain that forms the town’s heather-clad backdrop, a country park is the starting point for a network of footpaths. Take your choice from a number of short walks. One of the longer paths lead to the lighthouse at South Stack, where in early summer cliffs ring to the clamour of nesting razorbills and guillemots. This is a nature reserve with an RSPB observation point. You can enjoy watersports at Trearddur Bay and at Holyhead where there is a leisure centre that offers indoor swimming pools, squash and fitness rooms. A fine 18-hole golf course is nearby. The island has road access from Anglesey – either over Thomas Telford’s causeway on the A55 and the A5, or by Four Mile Bridge on the B4545 from Valley.
Behind the Breakwater, a quarry on Holyhead Mountain supplied stone during the 28 year period of construction.
In later years the durable quartzite was ground and mixed with lime and treacle before being formed into bricks and fired. The yellow bricks were used to line blast furnaces as far away as Italy.
The brickworks closed in 1973 and the site is now the setting of a country Park. The lane to the park (from Soldier’s Point at the end of Newry beach Promenade) leads to the foot of Holyhead Mountain.
Next to the free car park are the walls of the ‘crusher’ where the quarried rock was ground. Nearby stands the tall chimney of the brickworks. A little lake has dabbling ducks and is a pleasant place to take a picnic. Learn more about the history of the site at the information centre. Pick up a leaflet about the mountain and the costal footpaths that lead from here – and if the Park’s enthusiastic Warden (Will) happens to be around when you come, ask his advice about a route to suit your abilities.
An adjoining café and shop is run by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Toilets and baby changing facilities.
Set against the backdrop of the Snowdonia mountain range and separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait is the Isle of Anglesey – Mother of Wales. The island has over 125 miles of spectacular coastline. The island’s costal scenery is breathtaking and diverse. Interspersed by small costal villages and country lanes, the landscape boasts dramatic heather covered hill tops, rocky coves extensive dune systems and wide sandy beaches.
There is also a rich trail of history to be explored; from ancient standing stones and hut circles, to Iron Age hill forts and the ruins Roman watchtowers, many of which are located on the costal path all set within designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Holyhead Mountain is the highest point (220 meters) in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), providing views across the island towards Snowdonia, the Llyn Peninsula the Great Orme and across the Irish Sea to Ireland and as far as the Isle of Man. The mountain summit is ringed by the remains of an Iron-Age fort one of the largest sites in North Wales.
"From the summut if Holyhead Mountain on Ynys Cybi the whole world can be seen."
The oceans lie in a gleaming arc around, and are speckled here and there with the distant humps of continents, rising majestically from the surface of the water, and sometimes tipped with snow. No matter that it is only the Irish Sea really, that those beckoning lands are only the mountains of Ireland, the English Lake District or the Isle of Man: on the right day it is the world and all its oceans, and its grand presence out there to the west, uncluttered, free, has summoned Welsh people always out of their narrow valleys and frustrations." - JAN MORRIS (The Matter of Wales - Penguin Books)
The island’s countryside outside the settlements of Holyhead and Trearddur Bay is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Within this protected area are several Sites of Special Scientific Interest. A 13Km / 8 mile stretch of the coastline between North Stack and South Stack and the Heritage Coast.
The most dramatic viewing point for naturalists is from the cliffs above South Stack. The eroded ledges in the folded pre-Cambrian rocks here ideal perches for breeding birds – in early summer thousands of guillemots and razorbills crowd onto the cliffs. Fulmars, Kittiwakes and gulls also breed here, and Puffins burrow into the sea pink clumps on the lower slopes.
Below the clifftops, pairs of choughs nest in the sea caves. Peregrine falcons (these are the world’s fastest animals!) and ravens, linnets and rock pipits can also be seen. Manx shearwaters and gannets often fly close to the shore.
Anglesey Adventures are a non-residential activity provider that conveniently has its base at the Anglesey Outdoor Centre. Anglesey Outdoor Centre is situated on Holy Island Anglesey between Trearddur Bay and Holyhead. This area offers some of the best coastal activities to be found anywhere in the UK both on and off the water. There is a rich array of wildlife and culture in the proximity and the variety of venues nearby makes The Centre an ideal location for a wide range of both educational and adventure activities. The Lodge has a spacious, informal atmosphere. Being purpose built as an activity centre you will find all you need to make your adventure activity holiday a time to remember. Whether self catering, looking for a bed for the night, or you would like to take advantage of our on site bar, Anglesey Outdoors offers you a warm welcome.
Trearddur Bay is a popular rock-jawed bay with good sands, swimming, boating, slipway and cafes, car parks and toilets. A protected bathing area is marked by yellow buoys to exclude windsurfers and boats. There are other fine beaches nearby: the resort stretches from the much smaller bays of Porth y Post and Porth Dafarch in the north down to Porth Diana in the south.
In the south of Holy Island near Rhoscolyn, Silver Bay and Borthwen are fine sandy beaches!
On a clifftop near Rhoscolyn stands a memorial to a courageous dog. Offshore rocks such as Maen Piscar have long posed a threat to shipping.
In 1819 a Liverpool bound ketch struck the treacherous rocks and sank. The coastline being hidden by thick fog, only Tyger, the captain’s retriever, seemed to sense the direction of the shore. With the ships boy clinging to his collar, brave Tyger swam almost a mile to safety, and then faithfully swam back to aid the captain and two other crewmen.
They had all reached shore – but Tyger himself was exhausted by the ordeal, and he died in his master’s arms.