Weatherman Walking in Cemaes Bay

Monday 9 July 2012, 12:04

Martin Aaron Martin Aaron

I've just completed two more Weatherman Walks with Derek Brockway for the new series in 2013, this time visiting north wales - Cemaes Bay and Llanberris.

Five years ago, I'd never even visited Ynys Mon but I'm gradually getting to know the place having spent two weeks there with Springwatch followed up with a Weatherman walk at North Stack last year.

I seem to end up visiting the island outside of the school holidays which probably helps but it's always nice and relaxed with very few people around.

Our first walk began in Cemaes Bay on the north coast, just around the headland from Wylfa Nuclear Power Station, which seemed to shadow us for most of the walk, appearing and disappearing around every dip and bend until Porth Cynfor/ Hell's Mouth.

The walk was absolutely fascinating, steeped in history, myths and legends with coastal views to die for - even in the rain and drizzle!

Our guide was Dave Salter, a local walker and former power station worker who knew the area like the back of his hand and laughed and joked his way around this rugged circular walk.

Cemaes Bay is a pleasant little white-washed coastal village, once a thriving port but now a sleepy backwater with a relaxed pace and stunning bay, popular with tourists when the sun shines.

Producer Gareth Rees-Rowlands and Derek looking at the restored lifeboat in the harbour.

Producer Gareth Rees-Rowlands and Derek Brockway admiring the restored lifeboat in Cemaes harbour.

Highlights included seeing the fully restored Charles Henry Ashley lifeboat which operated between 1872 - 1932 in the harbour and Middle Mouse - the most northerly island in Wales, where Bishop Patrick (later Saint Patrick) was once shipwrecked.

Apparently he swam ashore and lived in a cave with a freshwater pool beneath the cliffs, building the beautiful Llanbadrig church up above, in around AD440 - making it one of the oldest Christian sites in Wales

The church is fascinating, steeped in history and features Islamic wall tiles inside - not something you'll find every day in a Christian church. It's also featured in the Hollywood moive, Half Light starring Demi Moore.

The beautiful Llanbadrig church with some unusual, Islamic tiling inside.

The beautiful Llanbadrig church with some unusual, Islamic tiling inside.

The local gentry, a Lord Henry Stanley who paid for much of the renovation following a fire, had converted to Islam and requested something inside the church that represented his faith, so you'll find pretty, ornate blue tiles adorning the walls around the altar.

Henry Stanley, also known as the 3rd Baron Stanley of Alderley went on to become the first Muslim member of the House of Lords.

The Dalai Lama was apparently quite taken with the place too and during a visit, described it as the 'most peaceful place on earth'. There's a wooden bench on the headland where he sat to admire the views.

During our visit, harbour porpoises swam lazily in the sea below, with a mother and calf feeding as the tide turned.

A view over the graveyard towards Middle Mouse island where Saint Patrick was once shipwrecked.

A view over the graveyard towards Middle Mouse island where Saint Patrick was once shipwrecked.

Heading along the coast we passed Middle Mouse and heard a cacophony of sea birds, busily nesting on the island, safe from predators.

This area is a great place to see terns too and you'll see plenty of Sandwich and Arctic terns diving for sand eels.

The walk had a few steep climbs which made the old legs burn a bit but for every hill there was a great view followed by a nice downhill section into a stunning cove.

There was an convent in the area during the 7th century but that has pretty much disappeared along with an Iron Age promontory fort, but a watch tower built in 1902 still stands.

Catching my breath after a steep climb up above Porth Llanliieiana towards the watch tower.

Catching my breath after a steep climb up from Porth Llanliieiana, heading towards the watch tower.

It was built by a Captain Picton to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 and a great place to watch ships from, as they battle the fierce tides which eventually surge around the island and up the Menai Straits.

Cemaes was once a thriving port, exporting limestone, marble, bricks, lime and corn and importing coal and flour.

The remnants of the brick works can still be seen though and there are some fine examples at Porth Wen which supplied silica bricks for the steel industry and glazed bricks for domestic use in Victorian times.

The sun finally shone as we ended the walk on a quiet back lane that took us back to the village.

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