PAGE UPDATED: 17.06.2022
It might only be 20 miles from north to south but a road trip around Anglesey has got the lot: beautiful beaches, places of historical interest, and a mountain whose heart was gouged out by man.
In this article we will share the story of our road trip around Anglesey in our motorhome. We’ll tell you some of the best places to visit on the island, including two that you simply must not miss!
And we’ll show you one of the best places we’ve ever wild-camped in our motorhome.
- Anglesey: a road trip back in time
- Holy Island and Trearddur Bay
- South Stack hut circles
- Camping on Anglesey
- Parys Mountain – requiem massive
- Timelessness and silence on Anglesey
- Afterglows and reflections
- What’s motorhome parking like on Anglesey?
- Other things to see and do on Anglesey
- Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
- Moelfre to Almwch
- Cemaes to Holy Island
- Holy Island
- Ty Newdd to Plas Newydd
- Have you been to Anglesey?
Anglesey: a road trip back in time
We didn’t make a conscious decision to visit Anglesey…
We were just driving on the mainland one evening, along the north coast, when we found ourselves getting closer and closer to the Menai Strait. It was as if our old van wanted to see what was over there, on the other side of the water.
We drove across Thomas Telford’s 1826 Suspension Bridge and immediately had a sense of stepping back in time. Far fewer people, far less traffic, and a slower pace of life. Perfect for us and our old van.
We wild-camped overnight by the Menai Strait, looking back across to the mainland and the mountains of Snowdonia, giving us beautiful views as the light faded. It also made for an excellent spot for breakfast come the morning…
RELATED CONTENT: Is it safe to wild camp in your campervan?
Holy Island and Trearddur Bay
We drove on, following the B4080 on the western edge, then rejoined the main A55 which took us further north onto the tip Anglesey, known as Holy Island.
After a morning exploring and relaxing at the beautiful Trearddur Bay, we took a walk along the coastal path, where at South Stack Cliff we joined the RSPB. We’d had no intention of signing up but, once again, this island seemed to be weaving some kind of spell on us.
Gannets noisily occupied the cliffs in their thousands.
Then, heading back to the van, we stumbled upon an old wooden sign that would take us even further back in time, some 2500 years to be precise…
South Stack hut circles
Wandering just a short distance through the grass, we found the remains of an Iron Age settlement – the South Stack Hut Circles – scattered on the hillside.
For the next couple of hours, an ancestral spirit took hold of us as we explored twenty or more huts, each giving us a real sense of what life must have been like in these harsh conditions, with the wind sweeping in off the Irish Sea.
We’d entered a liminal space and for a while lost track of time. Anglesey does that to you anyway, but here we felt it even more viscerally.
Camping on Anglesey
It took us a while to ‘come to’ but when we did we decided we’d like to find a campsite for the night rather than wild-camp again. (Perhaps our loo needed emptying?)
We ended up camping in the village of Cemaes, the most northerly village in Wales. Here we enjoyed a relaxing evening, eating out in the village centre and wandering around the bay.
Next morning, just before we left, the campsite owner suggested we visit the nearby copper mine, handing us a leaflet about it. We thanked him and said we might drop in if we happened to pass by.
But with curiosity stoked, this Anglesey road trip was about to get even better.
The leaflet had informed us that due to the discovery of copper, Amlwch, on the north coast of the island, grew from a small community into a town. Mining had started way back in the Bronze age but the real digging began in the 1700s. Briefly, it produced the largest supply of copper in the world.
Indeed, as we approached, we could see some reddish-coloured rocks in the distance. Before long, Parys Mountain loomed large.
The car park had a height barrier which did not predispose us to think highly of the place and, irritated at being made to feel unwelcome as a motorhomer we got a quick photo, thinking we wouldn’t bother to stay.
However, there was a lay-by over the road. And by now, we wanted to see where everyone were going…
Parys Mountain – requiem massive
We had been vaguely impressed by what we’d read in the leaflet, but nothing prepared us for the experience to come!
Walking amongst the huge stones with their stripes and splashes of gold, purple and copper left us ore-struck. Yes, that is a dreadful pun but fully intended!
We were immersed in the beauty of the natural rock, the colours like autumn leaves or the embers of a fire as the sun came and went.
Dr Who and other TV dramas have been filmed on her unearthly cliffs; the terrain is not of this world. It is bleak yet beautiful, like a rocky planet orbiting another star.
Then we saw the hollowed-out remains of the mountain, like an animal killed and gutted, left to bleed and rot in the wind by its satiated predator, its life blood staining what was left of its arteries and veins.
A huge wound on the face of the earth, we descended into the carcass, the beautiful innards of this decaying body…and found total peace.
Timelessness and silence on Anglesey
Little grows here – plant life is sparse and few creatures seem to venture in. There is a silence like a burial chamber, which emphasises the magnificence, yet mourns the mountain.
The silence stilled our thoughts, although it is a stillness touched by an unease at the devastation visited upon this gentle giant. Mankind is a cruel race.
Finding a small cave we sat for… well, we cannot say how long.
For the umpteenth time on this Anglesey road trip, time stood still amidst the depths of this crater, contemplating what humans had done. The clock stopped for us just as it had for this mountain when her coppery heart was dug out.
Afterglows and reflections
As we reflect back on our Anglesey road trip, sitting in our old van on a warm, sunny day, we are still slightly chilled by the memory of the huge, solid rocky cliffs so wonderfully coloured by nature.
We love mountains – they have a personality to us. The crater at Parys Mountain is indeed a beautiful place…yet it is the exposed belly of a beaten and beheaded behemoth, lain to waste.
Maybe there are only a few of us left in the living world who could feel regret for an exploited mountain. Maybe that’s just as well. But that was the feeling we left Anglesey with – a beautiful sadness.
This might be the best way to describe Anglesey, indeed, perhaps the best way to describe Wales as a whole.
We wonder if the poet, R.S. Thomas, who lived here would agree?
What’s motorhome parking like on Anglesey?
Our research shows three council owned car parks with height restrictions…
Menai Bridge – Coed Cyrnol – 6ft 6inch. Trearddur Bay – Lon St Ffraid – 6ft 6inch. Trearddur Bay – Fron Towyn – 6ft 6inch.
There is also the one at Parys Mountain although there is a layby opposite.
Unless specifically allowed, overnight sleeping/cooking/camping in motorhomes is generally banned in car parks and laybys. There are many campsites with varying price ranges and facilities. As we point out on our wild camping page, a lone van which is causing no problems is usually ignored by passing police and locals. However that is not guaranteed.
We wild-camped by the Menai Strait on Anglesey back in 2019 when the world was different. Pre-pandemic, it was easier. Now authorities have clamped down.
Over the last couple of years signs have been put up at just about every car park and layby, forbidding overnight parking or sleeping in motorhomes.
However, recently authorities have been unable to force motorhomers to move on because many no-overnight camping signs have been vandalised or removed entirely! We’re not condoning vandalism but it just goes to show how strongly people feel about it.
Other things to see and do on Anglesey
This list of places we would like to visit next time is arranged in an anti-clockwise coastal route from the bridges onto Anglesey. It is not guaranteed that a motorhome will get you close to all of these. Where we know that there is parking, we have mentioned it. We would expect the modern attractions to offer parking.
Although we have used the 160 mile coastline – which you can walk most of by the way – some places are inland.
Llanfair P.G. – short for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch “The church of St. Mary in a hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St. Tysilio’s church by the red cave”. An imaginative village name – coined in the 19th century for the tourists. It works!
Pili Palas Nature World – indoor and outdoor play areas, a cafe…and loads of wildlife!
Plas Penmyndd – the place (if not the actual house) where the Tudor dynasty began.
Beaumaris Castle – work commenced on this castle in the 1270s by Edward 1st as part of a line of defences against Scottish invasion after he defeated the Welsh princes. It was never finished! Projects going over budget is not just a modern problem! The castle still looks like a proper castle and will delight the kids! AND the castle car park accepts motorhomes. Beaumaris village has plenty of facilities with an old gaol and a courthouse. There is also a pier with boat trips during the summer.
Pant y Saer – Neolithic burial chamber near Benllech.
LLanddyfnan Standing Stone – easily spotted from the B5109 between Pentraeth and Talwrn.
Red Wharf Bay, Anglesey
Holy Penmon – Penmon Priory – a collection of Holy buildings including St Seriol’s monastery, St Seriol’s Well, two Medieval High Crosses housed in the church, a Dovecot built in around 1600, views of Ynys Seriol – Seriol’s Island (Puffin Island) where further monastic buildings were erected.
Red Wharf Bay – a stunning part of a beautiful coastline!
Benllech – a pretty village where a motorhome can restock and refresh. And we have read of a car park which has no “No Overnight Parking” signs in the village. If this is still the case, give Benllech your love and custom and #leavenotrace !
The Dingle (Nant y Pandy) Nature Reserve (inland) a 25 acre wooded valley.
Moelfre to Almwch
Lligwy Cromlech – a Neolithic burial chamber. This is down a small side road off the A5025 from LLanallgo village. Footpaths lead to Hen Capel Lligwy and Din Lligwy ancient settlement.
Parys Mountain – The Copper Kingdom – yes, we would go back!
Almwch – a gorgeous port and beach. And parking. Somewhere to stock up the provisions.
Dynas Gynfor near Llanbadrig – the site of a hillfort, now a site of special scientific interest.
Cemaes to Holy Island
Cemaes Bay – a lovely village with a romantic bay with rock pools, smooth sand and walks along the coastal footpath. There are pubs and shops and parking.
Mein Hirion – LLanfechell We know now that Mein Hirion means standing stones! These three 6′ tall giants are also known as the Llanfechell Triangle.
HOLY ISLAND Ty Maur Huts – Celtic Iron Age Huts. Often referred to as Cytiau’r Gwyddelod – Irishmen’s Huts. Open all year round, parking in conjunction with South Stack. For the historian, the field systems in this area are well worth studying.
HOLY ISLAND South Stack bird reserve and lighthouse – somewhere else we did not give enough time to. Anglesey’s most westerly point. Views of the Llyn peninsula and Bardsey Island are the icing on the cake. The 1809 lighthouse is open during the summer only and there are lower height restrictions for anyone wanting to climb the tower. The RSPB manage much of the cliff area and the wardens are always delighted to point out the birds and nests.
HOLY ISLAND Ffynnon Gwenfaen – St Gwenfaen’s Well. Early Medieval Holy Well.
Ty Newdd to Plas Newydd
Presaddfed Burial Chamber – on the southern shores of Llyn Llywenan, Anglesey’s largest natural lake. The site comprises of two Neolithic chamber tombs.
Ty Newydd Burial Chambers – Neolithic with faint art work on the cap stone.
Barclodyad a Gawres – a reconstructed cruciform burial chamber, akin to Newgrange with similar markings on some stones. Access is only available with prior permission of the site owners due to vandalism!
Bryn Celli Ddu – “The Mound in the Dark Grove”. A Prehistoric burial chamber. Originally a henge (bank and ditch) and stone circle, this was later replaced by a burial chamber. As the sun rises on the summer solstice, a shaft of light courses along the corridor and illuminates the chamber.
Anglesey Model Village – on the A4080 between Newborough and Dwyran.
Tacla Taid – transport and agricultural museum and cafe.
Bodowyr burial chamber – off the B4419. Neolithic burial chamber.
Anglesey Sea Zoo – a small aquatic zoo with a cafe and gift shop.
Foel Farm Park – a petting zoo with tractor rides and bouncy castle. Highly recommended for youngsters according to our research.
Plas Newydd – a country house dating from 1470 set in gardens, parkland and woodland. Owned by the National Trust.
Have you been to Anglesey?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Have you been to Anglesey? Have you wild-camped there? Please let us know in the comments section below or by sending us an email.
If you love Wales, please remember to read our other road trip stories along the Horseshoe Pass, the West Coast, Snowdonia, and the Llyn Peninsula, and the spectacular drive from the Brecon Beacons to the Elan Valley.