Walk 1702 - Rhoscolyn Headland
|County/Area ||Isle of Anglesey|
|Length||5.5 miles / 8.9 km|
|Ascent||550 feet / 167 metres |
|Start||OS grid reference SH268757|
Lat 53.2496862557029 + Long -4.59911163699145
Postcode LL65 2NZ (approx. location only)
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This is a pleasant afternoons walk, suitable for all the family, though dogs will need to be kept on a lead for much of the route which passes through sheep pastures. Park near St. Gwenfaen’s Church in Rhoscolyn (SH268757), which is reached by leaving the A55 road at junction 3, following the A5 road to the traffic lights on the crossroads in Valley, then going left and taking the B4545 to Four Mile Bridge. Take the first left turn just after crossing the eponymous bridge and following the unclassified road to the church.
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The church is well worth a visit, having some notable stained glass windows and a font dating to the 15th century. The present church was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1870’s, replacing a 15th century church which was destroyed by fire, but there has been a church on the site since 630 AD. St. Gwenfaen was the daughter of Pawl Hen of Manaw (Isle of Man) and she had her cloister here. Legend credits her with curing mental illness, and says she was chased from her cell by the Druids, escaping by climbing a rock stack just off the coast at Porth Saint (Saint’s Bay). The tide came in and she was carried off by angels.
Our route follows her escape path, taking the road to the right of the church, which soon becomes a farm track. Just before the track enters the walled farm of Tywrideen, leave the track through a kiss gate on your right and make your way around the farm buildings to rejoin the track, now a green lane, beyond the farm, which leads down to the coast at Porth Saint. The rocks here are very colourful, ranging from rusty brown to pink, and are Cambrian in origin, part of the geologically important Rhoscolyn Syncline (a huge fold in the rocks).
It is worth making a short diversion right here, following a rough path to the highest point, then heading across the headland (a prominent wooden post and some boulders beyond serve as waymarkers). Reaching the boulders the ground falls steeply away to the sea, and immediately ahead is Bwa Gwyn (White Arch), an impressive gleaming white rock arch, and beyond, good views to Trearddur Bay and Holyhead Mountain. Return to Porth Saint and pick up the constructed path heading south west, crossing a ditch via a footbridge and rising to pick up a clear, though occasionally boggy, path between the cliffs and an impressive, recently restored dry stone wall. Beware of the exposed cliff edges along here, which are home to many noted rock climbs, ranging in difficulty from the classic Symphony Crack (Diff) up to the fierce and electrifying Dream & Screams (E6). Access to most of the climbs can be tricky and is best left to the rock climbers. Our path follows the dry stone wall, keeping close to it all the way. The wall turns sharply to the SE above Porth Gwalch (Bay of the Hawk, or perhaps rogue!). Stay close to the wall to reach a kiss gate, and immediately beyond make a careful diversion of a few yards right from the path to the cliff edge to look back at the impressive Red Wall cliff which you have just passed above. This is a favourite haunt of climbers and you may be fortunate enough to see some tackling perhaps The Sun (E3) or Warpath (E5).
Return to the path which brings you almost immediately to St.Gwenfaen’s Well, a well preserved ancient well consisting of two small sunken rooms with stone seats. The waters are reputed to cure mental illnesses, and the traditional offering was two white quartz pebbles. Beyond the well the path makes a bee line for the Coastguard Lookout post at the highest point of our walk. The climb is gentle, over grass and with great swathes of gorse, but can be very muddy, particularly after heavy rain. The Lookout post is a superb viewpoint, as you might expect, giving unrivalled views of the mountains of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula to the SE, and a 180degree seascape to the West dominated close inshore by a rocky island, Ynys Gwylanod (Isle of Seagulls) with a small tower on it.
This tower, one of several around the coast, was originally constructed as a refuge for stranded seafarers. The tides here can run at 4knots, and seals are often seen in the area. The path continues beyond the lookout, roughly SE and descends steadily through pastureland, which it leaves at a wooden kiss gate near some buildings. Go through the gate, then immediately left and right along a waymarked track between walls. The path rises slightly, then turns sharp left and becomes a narrow permissive footpath which shortly enters a private garden! Keep to the right and after a few yards, leave the garden through a waymarked gap in the wall, and descend a track to a small bay, Porth y Corwgl ( Bay of the Coracle), though nowadays you are more likely to see small pleasure boats than coracles!
Take the driveway left from the bay, between houses, and drop down to the main beach at Borthwen (White Bay).To your right you can see the old Lifeboat House, which serves as a poignant reminder to November 1920 when the lifeboat was lost, together with 5 of her crew whilst trying to rescue the crew of a small steamship, the ‘Timbo’. The lifeboat was never replaced and most of the houses here are now holiday homes. Once you reach the sands, head directly across to the far side of the beach to a concrete ramp. Ascend this, go left and take the blue painted wooden gate, ignoring the footpath sign to their left. Follow a path between walls, with gates left and right marked private, to a crossing lane. Go right on this, past the houses, and then go left on a footpath onto heathland and another kiss gate.
This last section is confusing to navigate but is part of the Anglesey Coastal Path, and once the heathland is reached it is reasonably well waymarked! There are a number of different paths on this section, but continue roughly SE to reach the coast, then follow the cliffs around the headland, with the path soon becoming clear, and quite soon reaching another sandy beach at Silver Bay. This would be a good spot to stop for a break, or even a swim if the weather allows! There is a small conifer wood coming down to the sands in the middle of the bay, and our way leaves the bay via wooden steps up into the wood, and then on a clear path through it. As you emerge from the wood go right then immediately left (can be very muddy!), and through a gate into a field, at the far side of which is a ruined cottage, Bryn y Bar. Head for the right hand end of the building and pick up a wooden kiss gate, with a stone stile beyond leading to the farm track. Follow this track, which later becomes a tarmac lane passing alongside a wood to join an unclassified road at a sharp corner. Go right here and soon join the road you used on the way here close to the church. Go left on the road and return to the car (beware of traffic on this section, as there are no pavements and the roads are narrow), though you may want to divert left just before reaching the car to visit the recently refurbished (2008) White Eagle Inn!
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