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
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…
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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?
2022 update: wild camping on Anglesey
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.
But something’s been happening on Anglesey recently…
Authorities have been unable to force motorhomers to move on because many no-overnight camping signs on Anglesey have been vandalised or removed entirely! We’re not condoning vandalism but it just goes to show how strongly people feel about it.
Make sure you read our article about wild camping in a motorhome for the latest news and what the law says.
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.