Anglesey has something for everyone – a compact island which packs everything you need for a fantastic holiday or road trip.
This article will tell the story of our two-day Anglesey road trip all the way around the island. We’ll give special attention to two spectacular places we stumbled upon, The South Stack Hut Circles on Holy Island and Parys Mountain Copper Kingdom.
A road trip back in time
We arrived late in the day, spontaneously deciding to leave mainland Wales and head over the water and onto the island of Anglesey. It was almost as if Cree, our van, wanted to take us there.
Immediately we had a sense of stepping back in time. Less people, less traffic, a slower pace of life. Perfect for us and our old van.
We wild-camped overnight by the Menai Strait, looking across to Caernarvon and beyond that, the mountains of Snowdonia, which gave us beautiful views as the light faded and then again at breakfast time.
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After a morning exploring Trearddur Bay just south of Holyhead, we found ourselves taking a walk along the coastal path at South Stack and signing up to be members of the RSPB. Gannets noisily occupied the cliffs in their hundreds.
Then, on heading back to the van, we stumbled upon an old 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, we found the remains of an Iron Age settlement – the South Stack Hut Circles – scattered on the hillside over-looking the sea.
For the duration of our visit, an ancestral spirit took hold of us as we explored twenty or so 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 it was felt even more viscerally.
It took us a while to ‘come to’ but when we did we found a nice campsite in Cemaes, the most northerly village in Wales, where we enjoyed a relaxing evening, eating out and wandering around the bay.
Next morning, the campsite owner kindly 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.
We had, up till now, really enjoyed our short foray onto the island of Anglesey and could not imagine anything better than what we’d already seen.
The leaflet told 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.
With curiosity stoked, our road trip continued as we followed the signs to the Copper Kingdom.
Parys Mountain – requiem massive
Before long, we could see some reddish-coloured rocks as we approached Parys Mountain. The car park had a height barrier which did not predispose us to think highly of the place. However, there was a lay-by opposite which fitted a van or two.
So, slightly irritated at being made unwelcome, we wandered over, vowing to get a photo of the hated barrier before we left.
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 has 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.
The sound of silence
Little grew here – plant life was sparse, and few creatures seemed to venture in. But there was a silence like a burial chamber, which emphasised the magnificence, yet mourned the mountain.
The silence gradually stilled our thoughts, although it was a stillness touched by an unease at the devastation visited upon this gentle giant. Mankind is a cruel race.
We found a small cave and sat for… well, we cannot say how long.
For the second 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 on our Anglesey road trip, sitting in Cree 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 with – a beautiful sadness – even when seeing the car park height barrier again as we drove away.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Have you been to Anglesey? Please let us know.