On Tuesday I’d planned to have a day of boring housework. A massive pile of laundry had formed, there was paperwork needed filing, and phone calls to be made. So, naturally, I decided to do anything but housework and went to the beach instead! Telling myself ‘I’ll do it later’, my son and I got in the car and drove to Penmon, a place I hadn’t visited in many years.
‘Penmon’ literally means The Head of Anglesey, and it’s the south-eastern tip of the island, pointing out into the sea. The drive there takes you down an increasingly narrow road, hugging the coastline which affords you a wonderful glimpse of the North Wales coastline (or the ‘Welsh Riviera’ as my Nain likes to call it!). There are some ‘hidden gem’ stony beaches along the road and a few car parking spaces, but we continued onwards to Penmon Beach itself.
Penmon is a must-visit location for history buffs. As you approach the beach, you pass Penmon Priory, an ancient monastery. The oldest parts of the priory date all the way back to the 12th century and have survived the Vikings, the Norman Invasion, the Conquest of Wales, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries (the Welsh are a resilient nation). The bricks you see were put together in 1140, and inside the church are two crosses dating from the 10th century!
Nearby is St Seiriols Well which was believed to have healing powers (although to be fair the same story seems to be told of many wells in the United Kingdom!). It is said that part of the walls near the well were part of the original church built in the 6th century, which would make it part of the oldest Christian building in Wales.
Saint Seiriol, after whom the church and well are named, was a 6th century Saint and son of King Owain Danwyn of Rhos. Welsh legend tells that he was good friends with Saint Cybi, who came from the opposite side of the island. Each day they would walk to meet each other; Cybi would walk to the east, facing the rising sun in the morning, and the sunset in the afternoon. Seiriol, meanwhile, had his back to the sun during his journey. Therefore, they are known as Seiriol Wen and Cybi Felyn – White Seiriol and Yellow Cybi!
Aswell as the priory and well, Penmon has a stony beach, which looks out to Puffin Island, where St Seiriol lived as a hermit until his death. The beach might not be a place for sunbathing and sandcastles, but it is a perfect place for scrambling over the rocks and investigating the rockpools. When we visited we saw people kayaking, jet-skiing and taking a rib ride out to the island. Rather them than me! I thought it was far too cold for that!
After paddling, climbing, and splashing in puddles, my little boy was soaked through, so we stopped at the cafe for refreshments. Two cakes, a can of pop, and a bottle of water, cost £9, which seemed quite steep to me, so I think that next time I will be better prepared and take a thermos and some fruit from home instead!
We both loved our afternoon at Penmon. It is so beautiful, with stunning views and despite it being the middle of the summer and fairly busy, there was still an air of serenity to the place.
Much better than housework!