For the past few years Les @ A Tidewater Gardener has hosted the Winter Walk-Off. The challenge is to leave your house on your own two feet and post about what can be seen within walking distance of where you live – without showing anything from your own garden. Back in 2011 I posted about the village and surrounding countryside that I lived in, and got a new appreciation for the location and its architecture. I missed it last year, lost as I was in a sea of depression. Last month I posted about a walk up the river in Cemaes, to the old brick works, and I’m sure I could have “entered” that as my Winter Walk-Off post for 2013, but that felt like cheating. I had intended to post about the cliff walk that starts from the other side of the bay, but all my energy has been stolen by Project Fence, which seems to roughly translate in to Project Dig Up Another Large Shrub, so instead I took a wander off to the big beach.
The start is the same as the river walk, past the little beach that is at the bottom of our road, past the harbour and the Hobbit House, down the steps into the river valley. To get to the brickworks I turned my back on the sea and walked up river. This time I turned and headed off through the tunnel.
This comes out at the quay that I talked about in the river walk post, where the bricks made in the brickworks were loaded on to ships and sailed off to be sold. Now it is a peaceful mooring and a lovely place to sit and admire the harbour.
There is a tiny sandy beach just inside the harbour wall where people leave tenders and, in the summer, canoes and dinghies. This one clearly hasn’t been used for a while…
Looking back at the harbour you can see how small it is, but already there are more boats in the water and quite a few trips out of the harbour, or there were before the weather closed in again and winter reminded us that it hasn’t left just yet.
The big beach is very different to our little local beach. There is a broad promenade and large car park, for starters, and it is, well, bigger… And has more sand…
This is as far as a lot of the tourists get, and even the adventurous rarely venture further than the harbour, so even in summer our own little beach rarely has more than a dozen people on it. The big beach is a firm favourite with dog owners, though in the summer dogs are banned, and my neighbour B, who had a triple heart bypass in December, likes to use the promenade for his daily walk. The high wall is necessary because when the storms come in from the north they hammer the beach. The regular breaks for steps down to the beach proper are protected by wooden shutters, most of which are only unlocked and removed come Easter.
Down on the beach proper you can see that despite all the sand there are still the same kind of multi-coloured rock formations that make Little Beach so interesting, just fewer of them.
Apparently the geology of Anglesey and the nearby Llyn Peninsular is extremely complex, attracting geologists from all over the world. Something called the Gwna Mélange runs from the north of Anglesey across the Island to the Llyn. This melange – literally mix of rocks – is why there are so many different colours and types of rock right next to one another. Anglesey is an official Geopark, and with funding from UNESCO GeoMon is setting up guided walks and information points all around the Island. Cemaes has its own Geotrail! Since I know one of the people who gives GeoMon guided walks I don’t think I have much excuse for remaining as ignorant of all this geology I am living in the middle of for much longer. At the moment I am still at the “it’s pretty” stage!
I am heading across the beach towards the cliffs that I am wimping out of walking up.
When we first lived on Anglesey I expressed surprise at seeing gorse blooming in the winter. The boss had to explain that different types of gorse flower at different times of year, and on Anglesey you are pretty much guaranteed to see at least some flowering whatever the month. Oh, and if you are wondering why I am not sharing beautiful photographs looking out to sea, it is because I would be shooting in to the sun until I get further round, sorry. Strictly sand, rocks and cliff plant life for now…
Further on round the bay I have left the promenade behind, and the cliffs loom. OK, not really, they aren’t very high at all, but they are beautiful even in winter. In fact, if you look up at the gorse and the blue sky, only the bare brambles give the game away that it isn’t a beautiful summer’s day. That and the fact that I am warmly wrapped up against the chill.
This end of the beach is sheltered by the cliffs and faces almost due south. I wanted to see what was growing right down near the tide mark, as I was amazed at the variety of plants when I walked this way last summer.
As for the view from here, well, you can see Wylfa Nuclear Power Station if monolithic industrial architecture is your thing.
But back to the plants. Lots. At first just single small specimens hanging on to life nestled in sheltering crannies.
Further on there was a large clump of thrift (I think). And a rather nice foliage combination.
At this point we get to plumb the depths of my ignorance when it comes to maritime wild plants. For instance, I haven’t a clue what this is, but there is lots of it:
Although I’m not even sure that those are the same plant, one seems to have more pointed leaves. See? I need help!
And clearly this is a starfish. Or perhaps, given the drop in temperature and the current weather forecast, a green snowflake…
Can I distract you with some more pretty rock?
No? OK, well perhaps someone can tell me what these are, and recommend a good identification book, because I clearly need one…
I am always astounded at how close to the high tide mark plants find ways to survive.
Fortunately my bird identification book is better than my wildflower book, so I can tell you that this is a grey wagtail. Clearly a ridiculous name given the lovely plummage, but hey, at least I was able to enlighten my ignorance from my own bookshelf this time!
So there you have it, a little stroll to The Other Beach. Re-tracing my steps and enjoying the sight, sound and smell of the sea, I have to pinch myself yet again to prove this isn’t a dream, I really do live here now. Looking back across the clean blue water towards the cliffs, I felt deeply content to call this home. If a trifle ignorant about the native flora…
Do check out Les’ Winter Walk-Off blog post for links to more walks around people’s neighbourhoods, it is fascinating.