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The Great Outdoors Travel Wales

Llanddwyn Island – A walk from Newborough Beach

A beautiful stretch of coastline

The stunning and rugged coastline of Wales is well documented in the photography world and no more so than Llanddwyn Island on the coastline of Anglesey – one of the most beautiful spots in Wales that I have had the pleasure of visiting. Being from North Wales, I have had plenty of opportunities to explore. From walking in the mountains, searching out waterfalls or trying to capture amazing sunsets, the options for natural beauty are almost endless but taking a walk from Newborough Beach to Llanddwyn Island exceeded all of my expectations.

This wild and wonderful piece of Wales is steeped in history – the name Llanddwyn translates to the The Church of St. Dwynwen, Wales’ patron saint of lovers, who’s feast day is celebrated on the 25th January (to mark the date of her death in the year 465). This is basically the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine’s Day, but without the huge marketing campaign and profitability of the card selling stores!

Where is it?

Llanddwyn Island is a small headland jutting out into the sea (it’s only technically an ‘island’ during a high tide) and can be reached by walking along the Newborough Warren Beach which is situated to the south west of the Isle of Anglesey (an actual island). Driving through a pine forest before parking up at the large car park of Newborough Beach (tip: It gets super busy on summer weekends and there is £5 charge to park), there’s a great sense of anticipation with the views hidden by the large sand dunes that run the length of the beach.

Climbing up the dunes with the beach coming into view, on a sunny day you could be forgiven for thinking you were on a Greek island, looking across the sea at the neighbouring islands. But no, this is North Wales and the view across the sea is of the Snowdonia mountain range and the Llyn Peninsula.

Newborough Beach and Llandwwyn Island, Wales

The golden sands of Newborough Beach

Llŷn Peninsula from Newborough Beach in Wales

Looking out across the water to the Llŷn Peninsula

Newborough Beach

Newborough Beach’s golden sands stretch for miles along the coastline, making it the ideal destination in the summer for visitors to the area. The beach makes up part of the Newborough Warren Nature Reserve, including the adjacent dunes and pine forests, which are owned by the Forestry Commission. The forests and surrounding areas have miles of walking trails and paths to explore.

Newborugh Beach and Llanddwyn Island Wales

The expanse of beach and Llanddwyn Island in the distance

Pine forest at Newborough Beach, Wales

Where the beach meets the pine forest

From the beach car park to Llanddwyn Island, you can take a walk along the beach for about a mile, heading right, before you arrive at some unusual outcrops – pillow lava rocks which were formed by undersea volcanic eruptions.

Volcanic rocks and footprints on Newborough Beach Wales

Volcanic rocks and footprints on Newborough Beach

Volcanic rocky outcrops on Newborough Beach Wales

Exploring the volcanic rocky outcrops of Newborough Beach

Llanddwyn Island

There are two options once you arrive here. A pathway that takes you directly across the centre of the island, which includes some steps, or a meandering trail around the edge. We took the steps up and then followed the trail which had some boardwalk sections. The great things about this trail was the view across the headland.

Steps leading to the central pathway across Llanddwyn Island Wales

Steps leading to the central pathway across Llanddwyn Island

Views across to the lighthouse at the top of Llanddwyn Island Wales

Views across to the lighthouse at the top of Llanddwyn Island

St. Dwynwen’s Church

The first point of interest on Llanddwyn Island are the ruins of St. Dwynwen’s Church which was built in the sixteenth century, funded by the offerings of people who would make a pilgrimage to the spot in medieval times to the location of Dwynwen’s original chapel.

The ruins of St. Dwynwen's Church on Llanddwyn Island Wales

The ruins of St. Dwynwen’s Church

St. Dwynwen's Church information board Llanddwyn Island Wales

St. Dwynwen’s Church information board

The Lighthouses

Walking further along from here towards the tip of the headland, there are many small coves and inlets that you can see from the cliff tops. Many of these areas are not accessible as they are nesting grounds for sea birds, but still nice to admire. As you reach the southern end of the island the main features here are two lighthouses – Tŵr Mawr and Tŵr Bach.

Tŵr Bach (Small Tower), the original lighthouse was built to guide ships into the Menai Strait, the narrow stretch of water between Anglesey and the mainland. This lighthouse in now back in use after a modern lamp was fitted.

Tŵr Bach Lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island, Wales

Tŵr Bach Lighthouse

Tŵr Mawr (Big Tower), built in 1845 and the larger of the two lighthouses provides the iconic images that you may have seen of this location – with the winding steps leading up to the entrance.

Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island Wales

Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse

The iconic view of Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse on the rocky headland Llanddwyn Island Wales

The iconic view of Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse on the rocky headland

The building is no longer accessible, but you are able to walk up the steps and take a look around the tower.

The pathway leading up to Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse Llanddwyn Island Wales

The pathway leading up to Tŵr Mawr Lighthouse

Pilot’s Cottages

Around the time the lighthouses were built and first in operation, four pilot’s cottages were also constructed on the island. The pilots would guide the ships in to the straits, as well as operating a lifeboat from the island, along with volunteers from nearby Newborough. Two of the four cottages have been restored, one which houses an exhibition.

I recently read that a reality show is due to be filmed, where people will live on the island in conditions as they would have done when the cottages were inhabited.

A cannon is also located nearby, which would have been used to summon the lifeboat crews when required.

Pilot's Cottages on Llanddwyn Island Wales

Pilot’s Cottages on Llanddwyn Island

Cannon that would have been used to summon the lifeboats Llanddwyn Island

Cannon that would have been used to summon the lifeboats

Walking back to Newborough Beach, we headed back along the other trail which gave us different views back across at the lighthouses. From every angle, Llanddwyn Island really is beautiful, magical, wild and wonderful. The views are stunning, especially with the mountain backdrops and the clear blue waters.

The wilder side of Llanddwyn Island Wales

The wilder side of Llanddwyn Island

Lighthouse and monument at Llanddwyn Island Wales

A final view of the iconic lighthouse and monument at the tip of the island

Some extra information

It’s worth noting, that there are no facilities available on the island, and it’s a long walk back to the car park – allow 30-45 minutes from the lighthouses, but this is a place that you really shouldn’t miss if you want to see some of the most beautiful North Wales coastline. We were lucky to visit on a quiet weekday, out of season, so it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves, with the occasional few people, some dog walkers on the beach and a few kite surfers.

A kite surfer on Newborough Beach Wales

Kite surfing on Newborough Beach

For further information about the surrounding area visit the Anglesey section of the Visit Wales website.

What are your favourite coastal locations in Wales?

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  • Reply
    Evelyn Mitsunaga
    August 28, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    You take beautiful pictures!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    Wonderful pictures of a very unique and beautiful place, your shot of the original lighthouse is lovely. I was there a couple of years ago on a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and clear views across to the mountains on the mainland, and I got some of the best shots I’ve ever taken on Anglesey 🙂

    • Reply
      Shoot from the Trip
      August 28, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      I had wanted to visit for such a long time, so glad to get some good conditions while I was there. It’s so beautiful.

  • Reply
    August 29, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Your photos are beautiful. It is an interesting place thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply
    August 30, 2018 at 11:33 am

    How come I have never heard about this place? Thank you so much for sharing. To me, this looks like summer. Especially, Newborough Beach… I can already imagine a cheesy soundtrack to your wonderful day. 😉

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    David Morgan
    January 2, 2020 at 3:11 am

    In the comments above there is a note about an upcoming reality movie about life in the pilot cottages. My grandfather was born there in 1896. His name is Hubert John Morgan. I’d like to know more about Llanddwyn and what was happening there in 1896. Can you give me contact info so as I can persue more of my families history?

    Thanks. David Morgan.

    • Reply
      Dylan Jones
      January 2, 2020 at 7:27 am

      Hi David, thanks for the comment. There was a four part TV show that aired in May 2019 called The 1900 Island. It’s available on the BBC iPlayer in the UK.
      I am not really sure whether there is an ‘official’ website for the island, so unsure on contact details but there are plenty of sites offering information about the history online.

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