Anglesey (that little island just off the North coast of Wales) is one of those places that everyone says “Oh, you must go, it’s lovely. My third cousin twice removed has a holiday house there.” So I did. I’m always a bit put off by traditional “nice places”, because the fact that they’re nice makes everyone go there, and then they’re no longer nice because they’re filled with hordes of families who don’t even really enjoy being there but the parents feel it’s their duty to take their odious offspring to “nice places.” Presumably so that they can let their marauding monsters (children and dogs alike) go and annoy other people without getting locked up or shot. English seaside resorts are mostly like that. Although if Midsomer Murders is anything to go by, quaint English villages are prime territory for people getting their heads chopped off and their dogs drowned in wells. But as usual, I digress. Of course many English seaside resorts are perfectly nice places, but best visited during an apocalypse when no one else is about. Unfortunately (for this purpose, though perhaps fortunately in the grand scheme of things), apocalypses don’t often come around in Britain, so you may be waiting a long time before you ever go anywhere “nice” if you take my advice. Luckily, it turns out that, unlike Snowdon, which is still often full of clueless numpties even in midwinter, there are bits of Anglesey where you can escape the heaving hordes, especially on a very soggy Saturday in January. And, even better, on a semi-sunny Sunday in January.
In case you’re starting to think I’m working for the Welsh tourist board, I should point out that Caernarfon (where we stayed) didn’t seem to have much going for it. To be fair though, we arrived in the dark, which meant that actually I saw nothing except the inside of a fairly bland and sterile (but perfectly adequate) Premier Inn and a car park. A pre-breakfast stroll of the harbour the following morning was slightly more atmospheric, as the boats and shoreline gradually emerged from the crepuscular blackness. Turns out I should have gone for a walk to the Castle, but I didn’t know about it. Next time.
Anyway, back to the walk. It was my first time on a weekend away with The Mountain Coach, and I’d booked the trip for 2 reasons. First, because on a recent weekend organised by Plas-y-Brenin in North Wales, a less intrepid group than us had spent a day walking and taking photographs in Anglesey, and while we’d battled rain, hail and snow on Moel Siabod and Tryfan, they’d had glorious sunshine and beautiful views. I’d take the mountains any day, but it sounded like they’d had a lovely time. Second, because I’d booked the trip in a fit of panic about having to spend 6 weeks being inactive while recovering from shoulder surgery in December, and thought it would be an easy but interesting way to spend a weekend (which it was).
While out of preference I’ll always pick the most strenuous activity I think I can achieve, and sometimes one that I’m not entirely sure I can achieve – see for example my upcoming challenge for April which is filling me with simultaneous excitement and terror (but more on that in another post) – that doesn’t mean there aren’t great days to be had on lesser adventures. Anglesey gave us sun, sea, sand, deserted beaches, lighthouses, rocky liffs, a monastery, old pilots’ cottages, and the inevitable lashings of wind and rain that you’d expect in North Wales, just to stop it feeling too much like a sterile picture postcard. My only criticism was that I’d have liked to walk further each day, but the flipside was that I left home in Sheffield at 7am on the Saturday morning and got home by 7pm on the Sunday evening, despite 5-hour train journeys each way, and still managed two great, and very different, walks. I’d thought Anglesey was a bit of a long way to go for a weekend, but even with the fun of Network Rail in January when they’re digging up half the railway lines (4 trains and a detour via Derby wasn’t exactly my idea of the most direct journey back to Sheffield, but worth it to avoid the dreaded rail replacement bus), it proved eminently feasible and worthwhile. I may not have stretched my heart rate to its maximum, or helped much with my training for the 50-miler in April, but nevertheless it was a fun way to spend a weekend and blow the cobwebs out of my brain.