This was my first holiday since I went to the USA two years ago. Last year, for me and for so many, was a write off because of the pandemic. One of the few people I knew who did travel abroad found the whole experience stressful. It put me off even attempting to go abroad.
When I told a friend I was going to Anglesey, he said it was a place he used to visit annually. He told me the legend of Gelert, the faithful hound of the medieval Prince Llywelyn the Great. One day, Llywelyn returned from hunting to be cheerfully greeted by his bounding dog. Disturbingly, Gelert had blood around his mouth. Alarmed, Llywelyn looked for his baby boy, only to find an empty and up-ended cot, the bedclothes and floor covered in blood. Thinking that the hound had killed his son, the grief-stricken Prince plunged his sword into his favourite dog. Gelert’s dying scream was answered by a child’s cry. Llywelyn found the boy unharmed but nearby was a mighty wolf, which Gelert had killed in a bloody battle. Struck with remorse, the Prince buried Gelert outside the castle walls, where everyone could be reminded of his faithful and brave dog. Gelert’s grave can be seen today in the town of Beddgelert (Welsh for “the grave of Gelert”).
Anglesey is a small island off the north-west coast of Wales. We drove from Birmingham, stopping at Colwyn Bay for lunch before arriving at our accommodation. A first for me was staying in a shepherd’s hut. This one seemed quite plush. It contained everything you’d want for a short break. The kitchen was equipped well enough to make meals, which we did because all the recommended restaurants near us were booked for the Bank Holiday weekend we were there.
There’s something unfussy and friendly about the island. There are plenty of sparsely populated beaches and coastal areas. From some, on a cloudless day, you can comfortably see Snowdonia.
There are plenty of places to visit. Whilst driving around you can be easily surprised by something. For example, whilst returning to the hut, we drove through Amlwch and saw a striking church:
We had to stop and backtrack to look more closely at the church. I later learnt that the church is a Grade II* listed building designed by an Italian architect. It resembles an upturned boat (including portholes) to reflect the region’s maritime history. It’s somewhat of a mystery why this “highly unusual and experimental design” was picked for what has been called “one of Britain’s most avant-garde churches”.
For the island, there are many walks mentioned in our guidebook (Isle of Anglesey by Carl Rogers), which I’ll write about separately.
The benefit of a small island is that you’re never far from the coast. There was a beach within walking distance of our hut. On our last evening, we ate fish and chips on the beach and watched the sunset.