Can­dia Mck­o­r­mack dis­cov­ers the ‘red planet’ of An­gle­sey!

You bet there is, says Can­dia Mck­o­r­mack, and it’s a lot closer to the Cotswolds than you’d think

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

I’ve just been to the red planet, and you can too. It takes just four hours – even fac­tor­ing in a cou­ple of com­fort breaks – the na­tives are ex­ceed­ingly friendly and, if you re­ally need them to, they’ll even speak your lan­guage.

When I hit the A55 in North Wales bound for An­gle­sey (Ynys Môn to the lo­cals), noth­ing had quite pre­pared me for some of the won­ders I was go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence. I had been to the is­land be­fore, but that had been in my late teens, driv­ing an MG Mid­get, with the stay mainly con­sist­ing of beaches and pubs… pubs and beaches. This time round, as a con­sid­er­ably older al­most­grown-up, I’m ar­riv­ing with hus­band Tony, my son Leon, and daugh­ter Car­men in a much more prac­ti­cal (I did say ‘al­most-grown-up’) Ja­panese eight-seater.

As we have to pick up Car­men from school be­fore we leave for the week­end, it’s dark as we drive through the rugged ter­rain of North Wales, and even­tu­ally ar­rive at our home for the week­end, a cot­tage called ‘Tre­hafod’ (pos­si­bly named af­ter the coal min­ing vil­lage in the Rhondda Val­ley, but far more likely its Welsh ori­gins of ‘sum­mer dwelling’ or ‘up­land farm’). Own­ers Glyn­g­wyn and Iona are there to greet us, though, with wood-burn­ing stove roar­ing and Welsh food prod­ucts wait­ing on the kitchen counter… An­gle­sey Bara Brith, Llaeth y Llan yo­gurt and lo­cal sausages and ba­con from Ed­ward’s just down the road. Ne­foedd!

The cot­tage is a glo­ri­ously ru­ral fourbed­room barn con­ver­sion, up­dated by Glyn­g­wyn him­self to an in­cred­i­bly high stan­dard, to in­clude un­der­floor heat­ing; three big, fat bot­tom­less leather so­fas ar­ranged around a wood­burner and 48” smart telly; range cooker; ta­ble for eight; four dou­ble bed­rooms; three bath­rooms; dou­ble rain shower (aah)… and – oh blimey – a swim spa in the pri­vate gar­den al­most big enough to take along the pet orca (doesn’t ev­ery­one have one?).

The first evening con­sists mostly of spa surf­ing un­der an im­pos­si­bly clear, starry sky; eat­ing lo­cal sausages and por­ing over lo­cal maps in or­der to plan the next day’s ac­tiv­i­ties. The rest of the evening was spent try­ing to coax Car­men out of the swim spa, who seemed to think that ev­ery minute not spent in it was a wasted one.

If you’ve never vis­ited An­gle­sey, it re­ally is a place of won­der, with golden beaches, hid­den bays, pre­his­toric mon­u­ments and na­ture re­serves. A ver­i­ta­ble sweetie shop of de­lights for cu­ri­ous vis­i­tors. As we only had a week­end, though, we four de­lib­er­ated over cre­at­ing a short list of must-sees…

Top of our list was Parys Moun­tain and the as­ton­ish­ing cop­per mines, so we headed to Aml­wch’s har­bour to dis­cover more at the Cop­per King­dom Mu­seum. Here you can learn how cop­per has been mined at Parys Moun­tain since the Bronze Age, and view in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays show how the in­dus­try grew ex­po­nen­tially fol­low­ing the ‘Great Dis­cov­ery’ of cop­per in 1768, mak­ing this small is­land the world leader in cop­per min­ing. The dis­cov­ery even led to Wales’s own equiv­a­lent of the Gold Rush – the ‘Welsh Cop­per Rush’ – where peo­ple trav­elled from as far afield as Corn­wall to make their for­tune.

A short walk har­bour­side from the cop­per mu­seum is the Sail Loft Mar­itime mu­seum which con­tin­ues the story, telling how cop­per was ex­ported by boat, with the har­bour also be­ing home to a ship-build­ing yard, tobacco fac­tory and mat-mak­ing in­dus­try. The

gen­tle in­cline of the tim­ber floor of the mu­seum is a re­minder of the build­ing’s pre­vi­ous life as the place where sails were made and re­paired, the slope ap­par­ently mak­ing it eas­ier to un­furl the large can­vases. Time spent in th­ese ex­cel­lent mu­se­ums only whets the ap­petite fur­ther to get out and ex­pe­ri­ence the lo­ca­tions men­tioned first-hand.

A short car drive finds us at Parys Moun­tain it­self which, even af­ter watch­ing nu­mer­ous videos and ooh-ing and aah-ing over pho­tos on the in­ter­net, we’re still not quite pre­pared for what awaits. At the heart of the moun­tain was an ac­tive vol­cano which spewed out the trea­sures that were to be mined later on. The vivid land­scape of red, orange, pur­ple and green – akin to a ge­o­log­i­cal mar­ble cake – is one of the most re­mark­able things I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced, and the four of us spent sev­eral hours ex­plor­ing, run­ning ahead of each other, say­ing, “Quick, come and see this,” and “Wow, look what I’ve just found!” It’s no won­der the site was awarded World Her­itage Site sta­tus in 2015, with its brim­stone yard, pre­cip­i­ta­tion ponds and great open­casts. Also worth vis­it­ing are its dis­used wind­mill and en­gine house… eerily stand­ing as a re­minder of the in­dus­tri­ous na­ture of the land­scape.

I, for one, didn’t want to leave, but we were de­ter­mined to visit the burial cham­ber of Bryn Celli Ddu be­fore sun­down, so headed 20 miles south to the Ne­olithic site and closer to our week­end home. Be­lieved to have been con­structed around 5,000 years ago, the site has had a com­plex his­tory, orig­i­nally start­ing out as a ‘henge’ with its outer ring of stones, and later be­com­ing a pas­sage tomb. To­day, it’s pos­si­ble to en­ter through the pas­sage into the polyg­o­nal stone cham­ber where hu­man bones have been dis­cov­ered and where, in mod­ern day, vis­i­tors leave of­fer­ings of shells and other gifts in me­mory of the dead.

Just as the sun be­gins to set to the right of Bryn Celli Ddu, the Bara Brith and ba­con – yes, yes, and swim spa, Car­men – beckon to us, so we make the short jour­ney back to Tre­hafod and its wel­com­ing wood­burner and leather so­fas that threaten to – won­der­fully – swal­low you whole.

Ynys Môn, we’ll be back over the Me­nai Strait to dis­cover your other won­ders very soon.

Hwyl fawr am nawr.

‘The vivid land­scape of red, orange, pur­ple and green – akin to a ge­o­log­i­cal mar­ble cake – is one of the most re­mark­able things I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced’

Parys Moun­tain

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.