I have always liked Menai Bridge. Ever since my college days.
There are plenty of places on Anglesey that offer you an absolutely lovely sunny evening walk. Menai Bridge being one of the very best as far I am concerned.
Before or after a meal in the restaurants of the town, it either opens your heart and stomach to the wonders of a good meal or aids digestion in a calming and reassuring manner.
STARTING POINT - I am anything but indifferent about this lovely walk, but you can chose to start at any number of points. Walk it once and you can then select which is easier for you and find appropriate parking for your next visit.
There are four main sights worth seeing: The Thomas Telford Suspension Bridge, Ynys Gorad Goch, the Britannia Bridge and Nelson’s Statue. Each is worth a visit on its own if time is short.
LENGTH OF WALK - Probably about a mile, though you can extend it all the way to the Britannia Bridge and back. This is about 2 and a half to 3 miles. It all depends what time you start and how many calories you have to burn off.
Anyway, let’s assume that you’ve enjoyed a lovely meal at my friends’ restaurant, A Taste of India (By the way, I don’t get a freebie, they’re just lovely people).
Stand in the square and traipse down the main street toward Beaumaris. Walk past A Taste of India and then turn up a narrow lane opposite Elsa. Follow this road and it will bring you to right beside the Menai Straits.
I used to be part of a Marine Survey Team many years ago and one of my most regular surveys took me up and down the Menai Straits past Menai Bridge about every two weeks.
We used to carry out EC Directive surveys on the quality of water in the Central Channel and over the shellfish beds at Brynsiencyn and the Bangor/Beaumaris area.
The most exciting part of the journey would be beneath the Britannia Bridge when the tide was turning. It was exciting trying to sample Menai Straits water with a container that would bounce off the surface of the rushing current.
The wonders that I saw regularly hardly ever diminished. Being on a boat the Menai Straits offers you those rarely seen views of the familiar.
Admiral Lord Nelson – a master mariner - regarded the Straits as being one of the most treacherous stretches of water in his experience to navigate?
I won’t bother describing everything to you, as I believe such pleasant experiences should be discovered and reflected on by oneself. However, I will point out one or two things that are worth attending to.
The road will take you past Bangor University’s Menai Bridge Marine Science block just before the Mostyn Pub. There’s a little gate entrance here. Pop through to find yourself on the Promenade.
Take your time here and step onto the pier. This will offer you a broader perspective of the Straits down toward Beaumaris and Bangor Pier in the distance.
Maybe the University’s research vessel, The Prince Madoc will be docked. The The Madoc is usually involved in research survey work that takes it far north in to the Arctic and down south to swan about in the Mediterranean.
Walk along the promenade in the direction of Menai Bridge (as we call the suspension bridge). Step out through ornate gates and up to the Liverpool Arms and take a left here after making a note of the excellent menu.
This road will now lead you to the lower road and will bring you right under Thomas Telford’s Bridge.
There may be someone fishing on the square green below the bridge. Go and have a chat, unless they’re struggling with a conger eel.
Depending on the time - let’s say the sun is setting - do stop a while and cast a glance on the supporting column on the other side of the bridge.
You should notice that cormorants will be flying low above the water below the bridge to pull an Immelmann Turn about 200 yards beyond and head back for the support.
In fact, you should have bought your bins (binoculars) with you. If not then watch them carefully as they sweep back toward the bridge.
The cormorants will pull up to the column to find a resting place on the protruding aspect of the support column’s dressed stonework.
Look closer and you’ll notice about ten, twelve or more small black shadows already ensconced on their individual ledges for the evening.
I only noticed this when we were drifting past Menai Bridge on the current in our unstable little zodiac. Unless you know, then there’s nothing going on. Knowledge is power and I offer it to you freely.
Below the bridge on the Anglesey side there’s usually a few cars or vans parked there. These are invariably canoeists, divers or canoodling couples. Don’t Stare. I understand you can pick up canoodling tips elsewhere on the Interweb.
By the bye, you’ll notice that the main Anglesey support column is set on an island, Ynys Moch (pig island). (Check this and more out on my Menai Bridge pages.)
There’s a lovely little dingly dell on your left. Divert your little journey to view what’s here.
The home of Anglesey’s specialist Diminutive Druids, perhaps?
Just up and around the corner you’ll notice a concrete walkway down to your left, The Belgian Promenade. Here, the Menai Straits opens up to reveal a view of both the suspension bridge and the Britannia Bridge.
In the distance is the Marquess of Anglesey’s Column. Well worth a visit, I most sincerely assure you. The view is quite staggering..
The Belgian Promenade will bring you to Church Island, or the island of the Church of Saint Tysilio (more on that one elsewhere, when I am awarded a 30 hour day).
Walk around the peripheral path to your right and read the gravestones.
The tragedies of earlier days are obvious on the inscriptions, from young children to those killed in the Service of their Country or drowned on some far off sea. Acknowledge them.
St Tysilo’s Church is open most days and worth a few minutes of your time. Why not make a donation toward its upkeep while you’re here?
Up to the top of the outcrop at the centre of the island to enjoy the view between Menai Bridge and the Britannia Bridge from yet another perspective. I used to escape here during my college exams to try and release the almost unbearable tension and clenched jaw.
Stepping off Church Island you are confronted by a dilemma. Either you can walk up the path directly opposite you through Coed Cyrnol (Colonel’s Wood) and back up toward Menai Bridge town centre.
Or, you can drop down the track to its left and across the Menai Bridge rugby pitch and up the steps on the other side.
Should you choose the latter, you could choose to walk left and out of town. Immediately after the very last house you’ll notice the Anglesey Coastal Path sign that will lead you down a field and once again to the Menai Straits.
Keep to the well-maintained path and away from the rocks further on. These rocks are very slippery and submerged by the twice daily tides.
Shame to spoil your walk, disturb the Emergency Services and find your face on the front page of the local rag with a dodgy headline attached. ‘Dire Straits’?
You’ll be moving in and out of the woods at the water’s edge as you come closer to and, finally, below to the Britannia Bridge. Read my page on the Britannia Bridge for information about its history, construction, disaster and re-construction.
Now I know you’ll have been wondering for quite a while now about the island in the middle of the Menai Straits. The walk along the water’s edge will bring you as close as you’re ever likely to get. Again, you should have brought your binoculars with you.
This is Ynys Gorad Goch (‘Island of the Red Fish Traps?’) Actually, it could also mean, ‘Red Island of the Fish Traps’. Such is the subtlety of the Welsh language.
Ynys Gorad Goch occupies one three acres at Low Water and only one acre at High Water.
The fish traps are obvious around the island and, although not in use today, have been here in one form or other for about 500 years. Though, it is thought that it could have been in use as far back as the 13th Century.
It was first used by monks as a fishery. The fish swim in on the rising tide and are entrapped on te ebb tide.
It was last in operation in 1959, having had a smokery attached in 1924. In its earlier days, it would have supplied a number of Anglesey’s monasteries, especially at Amlwch, Penmon Priory and Holyhead.
I’m sure that there would have been some local trading in the community of Porthaethwy, which is Menai Bridge before Thomas Telford arrived.
Don’t wander along the shore here. Again, it’s a messy piece of rocky coastline that dangerous if you slip on the sharp rock.
Just around the corner away from both bridges is Admiral Nelson's statue and it’s reasonably easy to get to. DO NOT WALK ALONG THE SHORELINE.
You’ll notice a track that’ll lead you up past the bridge support columns on the Menai Bridge side. Follow this until you come out just below the Carreg Môn Hotel.
Once on this road, drop down to your left for St Mary’s Church.
Once in the church carpark you can see Nelson through the trees below the Church of St Mary. To get there walk through the churchyard.
Take note of the Britannia Bridge Monument on the left.
The loss of men during construction was not limited to it original build but also refers to the loss of life during the 1982 reconstruction.
Just wander down through the churchyard until you find a little muddy path that’ll take you down to the Menai Straits.
I RE-ITERATE MY WARNING
At this location it is slippery, muddy and you’ll discover sharp rocks covered with seaweed underfoot.
So Take Great Care
If you’re a bit unsteady, then don’t venture. Just sit down and enjoy the Menai Straits at its broadest. The Faenol Estate is directly opposite.
Follow the road uphill from the church to the main A5 road and turn right. It’s about a mile and a bit back to Menai Bridge from here.
If you haven’t had supper yet, then there are plenty of choices for you.
Though I’d book the Chinese, Cantonese and Indian restaurants in advance. Menai Bridge restaurants are very, very popular and rightly renowned for the variety and the quality of their food.
I believe that I have just offered you a lovely introduction to the Menai Straits as it flow between both bridges that span from Anglesey to the mainland.
And I now here you say,
"Hey Wil, what about the rest of the Menai Straits? Menai Bridge is beautiful, now where else?"
In Welsh we call the Straits, Yr Afon Menai - The River Menai. Of course it's not a river but a tidal strait. A very complicated and occasionally treacherous strait at that.
Below, I offer you images of either end of the Afon Menai.
Abermenai Point is at the southerly end of Llanddwyn Beach and, as the image probably suggests, is yet another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Llanddwyn is a very long beach that extends past Llanddwyn Island to transform itself into the very isolated Newborough Beach.
Bring a Picnic and make a day of it. Walk, Rest, Splash and Tan.
Beaumaris is a beautiful little town with an Edwardian Castle that is both fascinating and great fun to visit and wander about. The town itself is an absolute delight with excellent and award winning restaurants.
A few miles onwards, and at the very end of the Menai Straits (as defined by the sandbanks) is Penmon Lighthouse and Puffin Island. Both of deeply interesting historical and AONB attraction.
Menai Bridge is merely the first step of a journey of many thousand steps. I do hope that you are able to enjoy these fabulous walks.
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When I was writing about Llanddwyn Beach on the West Coast of Anglesey, it was fun sharing my Fish Batting story.
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