Caldicot to Chepstow
Huge bridges and small villages with big histories.
Ancient burial mounds and a medieval church in the sea
Aberffraw to Rhosneigr
8 miles / 13 kilometres
This route starts in the pretty village of Aberffraw a sleepy little hamlet which was once the capital of North Wales. Today, all reminders of the palaces where kings and princes administered their domain have disappeared, but for 800 years this was one of the most important centres of power in Wales and the base from which the Welsh fought off the Irish, Saxons, Vikings and Normans.
Nowadays, its fabulous beach is popular with tourists and its network of protected sand dunes is important for nature. The village itself has whitewashed cottages, a pub, shop, post-office, café – it even has an art gallery.
On leaving the village down the estuary, we are struck by what some describe as the most beautiful bay in Wales, looking across the river to the beach, the sea and the mountains of the Llŷn Peninsula and Snowdonia.
The route from here is easy to follow and as we climb the headland it’s easy to pass the remains of an early Bronze Age burial mound without noticing. Ringed with an elaborate pattern of stones, some of which can still be seen poking through the grass, it’s built on the site of a much older settlement thought to date back to around 7,000BC.
As we reach Porth Cwyfan the magical sight of St Cwyfan’s Church comes into view. Originally founded in the seventh century on a peninsula, erosion means that now, at high tide, the building is completely cut off, but we can wander over for a closer look when the tide is out.
The stone church was erected in the twelfth century but most of what stands here now dates from the fourteenth century. This tiny, simple church still holds occasional Sunday services.
From here the route goes inland for a short period, skirting the Anglesey Racing Circuit before re-joining the coast to the sandy cove of Porth Trecastell which is popular with surfers and kayakers. There is often a snack van in the car park here.
On the other side of the cove, we head out onto the headland to discover the Neolithic burial chamber of Barclodiad y Gawres. Set in a spectacular location, much of what we see is the result of “restoration” in the 1950s but this work also protected some of the most important original features of the chamber – a number of stones with spirals, zig-zags and lozenges, similar to those found in Ireland’s Boyne valley. The only other UK site where such carvings can be found is also on Anglesey at Bryn Celli Ddu, one of Britain’s most evocative archaeological sites.
In fact the whole area is littered with prehistoric burial chambers, and those at Ty Newydd, Din Dryfol, Bodowyr and Presaddfed are all within a few miles of here. And, standing testament to the area’s importance in those days, ancient settlement sites such as Castell Bryn Gwyn and Caer Lêb are also nearby.
The path continues along the coast now before reaching the dunes behind the first of Rhosneigr’s beaches, the usually quieter Traeth Llydan. The Oystercatcher restuarant is a handy spot for some refreshments at this point. Or you can continue to the bustling village resort of Rhosneigr which has a number of hotels, cafes, bars, shops and a second, usually busier beach, Crigyll.
Gruff Owen, Wales Coast Path Officer, says: “This is a truly special walk, whenever I walk along this part of the Wales Coast path, I marvel at its beauty and tranquillity. Best enjoyed on a clear summer evening.”
There is car parking by the bridge in Aberffraw and a pay and display car park in Rhosneigr. There are also a few car parks along the route.
Direct buses travel this route only a few times a day.
Careful planning is required to avoid a long wait or a long journey via Llangefni. It is probably easier to park in Rhosneigr and catch a bus to Aberffraw to start your walk, or to use two cars.
There are no public toilets in Aberffraw and Rhosneigr.
Food and drink options are plentiful in Rhosneigr, and there is a pub and a small shop in Aberffraw. On route, a snack van may be at Porth Trecastell and the Oystercatcher bar and restaurant is near the end of your journey.
Download the Aberffraw to Rhosneigr map (JPEG, 2.17MB)