Caldicot to Chepstow
Huge bridges and small villages with big histories.
A stunning beach, a lighthouse, an ancient church, a Norman castle and the last of Edward’s castles in Wales
Pentraeth to Llangoed or Beaumaris.
12 miles / 19 kilometres (if stopping at Llangoed) or 15 miles / 24 kilometres for the whole route.
After parking in Pentraeth we walk down Brick Street, cross the bridge and turn right over a cattle grid to reach the Wales Coast Path at the quieter end of Red Wharf Bay. One of Anglesey’s largest bays, at low tide the whole area is a vast expanse of sand and salt marsh.
Turning right along the track we follow it around the waters edge. Check tide times before setting off as this part can become submerged at high tide. There is also a waymarked high-tide route available along the edge of Pentraeth forest and this can be used as a short loop walk back to Pentraeth or as an alternative route onwards if we fancy trying to catch a glimpse of Anglesey’s famed Red Squirrels.
However, we head on along the edge of the marsh along various sections of boardwalk and along the lane which runs parallel with the stunning Llanddona beach. After climbing the steps at the far end of the beach the path then heads off through fields and lanes, and soon the sight of Puffin Island appears in the distance.
The path then heads inland slightly for a mile or so before reaching the spectacular Trwyn Du at Penmon Point where the iconic image of the lighthouse between the mainland and Puffin Island awaits. Despite its name, there are very few puffins on this island but it is an important area for sea birds, and grey seals use the uninhabited island’s beaches for pupping. The island is not accessible but regular boat trips depart from Beaumaris to circle it.
Penmon’s history stretches back to the sixth century, when a monastery was established here. The holy well (with reputed healing properties) is thought to be associated with this period, though the cell that houses it was built much later. The remains of the priory largely date from the thirteenth century, when it became part of the Augustinian order.
Inside the church, which still serves the parish today, stands an impressive cross. Dating from the tenth century, its shaft is carved with intricate patterns of frets and plaits.
Also worth a visit, across the road is a bird box on a truly epic scale, fifteenth century Penmon Dovecote. This provided a source of meat and eggs for wealthy local landowner and influential politician, Sir Richard Bulkeley.
Now we carry on along the road for a mile and a half until we reach Lleiniog. A short detour here will take us inland to the ruins of Castell Aberlleiniog, a Norman-built motte and bailey castle. Parts of the castle have been restored and there is good access to it along a boardwalk through the surrounding marshes.
A short walk from here through a delightful woodland nature reserve to the village of Llangoed will enable you to catch a bus to return to your starting point in Pentraeth (which will mean changing at either Beaumaris or Menai Bridge).
Back on the coast, the next section is tidal – make sure to check tide times in advance and leave at least an hour either side of high tide before setting off. If in doubt, take the alternative route along the road which re-joins the coast in about a mile.
The shoreline option is interesting for its crumbling cliffs which clearly show the layers of glacial deposits which cover much of Anglesey. It also provides wonderful views across the sea towards the Carneddau mountains in northern Snowdonia.
On reaching Beaumaris we are greeted by the strangely squat form of Beaumaris Castle. This famous fortress is exceptionally well preserved and takes its place alongside some of Wales’ other great castles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was the last of the royal strongholds created by Edward I in Wales – and perhaps his masterpiece. Edward and his architect, James of St George, had already constructed the great castles of Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech. Beaumaris was to be their crowning glory.
The result was a fortress of immense size and near-perfect symmetry. No fewer than four concentric rings of defences included a water-filled moat. The outer walls alone bristled with 300 arrow loops, but lack of money meant that it was never completed.
And to this day, the town remains popular with visitors due to its history, its range of small shops and eateries, and its spectacular setting beside the Menai Straits with the mountains of Snowdonia providing a breath-taking backdrop.
Gruff Owen, Wales Coast Path Officer, said: “A beautiful sandy beach, tranquil coastal scenery, the chance of seeing some fabulous wildlife, and historical sites by the bucket-load. This is a route which incorporates a little bit of everything that’s great about Anglesey.”
Direct buses from Beaumaris to Pentraeth are very infrequent and catching one of them requires good planning. Most services change in Menai Bridge and can take around an hour.
Parking at the end of the route and getting a bus to the start may save you some time waiting for buses after completing the walk. But it may be more convenient to have two cars, one at the start and one at the finish, or to take a taxi back to Pentraeth.
There is car parking, a pub and a shop in Pentraeth.
Toilets and a beach café are open in Llanddona during the visitor season.
There is a convenience store in Llangoed.
Beaumaris has public toilets, plenty of cafes, pubs, shops and car parking.
Download the Pentraeth to Beaumaris route map (JPEG, 2.45MB)