North Wales walk - Bull Bay, Anglesey
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 September 2017
Epic views, wildlife and industrial history...this circular walk from Bull Bay in Anglesey has got the lot, so take your binoculars, writes Howard Bradbury
As we tread the path around the rugged coast from Bull Bay, our eyes are forever scanning the sea.
Seals are a frequent sight here, but we’ve also spotted dolphins and porpoises, often in quite large groups. And we rarely pass the eastern cliffs at Porth Wen without seeing a hawk hovering purposefully in the updraught. So don’t forget your binoculars when you come this way.
But there’s another reason this stretch of coast keeps drawing us back. Plonked incongruously amid verdant fields and beautiful coastline, is an industrial relic: the former brickworks at Porth Wen.
The rusty boilers, kilns and crumbling brickwork have spent decades being gradually reclaimed by nature, turning what may otherwise be an eyesore into an eerie beauty spot. Why a brickworks in this unlikely position? The answer to that is quartzite, the local rock which could be used in the production of silica bricks - vital for the steel industry. Those bricks could be transported away by sea from Porth Wen, though the rocks and lack of shelter made this a hazardous port of call. So when the demand for Porth Wen’s bricks waned in the early 20th century, it was no longer worth the risk involved in sending ships into this exposed bay.
While other industrial relics of Victorian Britain were razed or adapted to a new purpose, the Porth Wen brickworks was simply left to decay.
1.The starting point for our walk is Bull Bay, just to the west of Amlwch on the A5025. Look for the road which leaves the A5025 to go down to the bay (postcode LL68 9SG on the sat nav should get you there) and there is some on street parking near to the Bull Bay Hotel, which was, sadly, closed when we last passed this way. Turn your back to the sea and, with the Bull Bay Hotel up to your right, head up the lane which passes The Anchorage holiday apartments and a public toilet block. Just beyond a row of white houses, go right, following a footpath sign up a private lane. At the top of the lane, where it bears right, go left instead onto a footpath.
2. After a short grassy descent, you come to a metal kissing gate. Go left on a well-worn path, just a few yards to a metal gate beside a field gate. Go right up the track towards the farm, but a few yards later go left through a kissing gate and across a field, through a wooden kissing gate and on to a metal gate, emerging on a lane beside Glasfryn Farm. Cross over the lane and bear slightly right and downhill, following the footpath sign. Go through the wooden kissing gate and go forward, heading uphill. Keep heading towards higher ground, following the occasional yellow footpath arrows. You will see the ruins of old windmill off to the left.
3. Crossing a stile beside a field gate, follow a rocky path with lots of vegetation
around it as you get to the top of the ridge, with views of the sea opening up to the right, and wind turbines to your left.
As you reach the highest point on the ridge, you see the Porth Wen brickworks far away on the other side of the bay. Head downhill now, following the footpath marker to the bottom left corner of the field where there is a kissing gate (very well hidden in the undergrowth when we walked here).
Keep going downhill in the direction of the brickworks and you will arrive, at right angles, to the coastal path (there are no signs to indicate the path at this point, but the grass is sufficiently well worn to let you know that this is the path).
4. If you are feeling energetic, bear left here and follow the coastal path (you’ll soon see signs for it) round the bay to get a better view of the brickworks. A warning here: the brickworks are private property, with lots of hazards on the site, including sheer, unguarded drops. Many people do scramble down the very overgrown path for a closer look, but we cannot advise it. If you don’t want to make a detour for a closer look at the brickworks, then when you hit that coastal path, turn right and follow the well-worn path back towards Bull Bay.
5. We often see birds of prey hovering just off the cliffs which look across towards the brickworks. We have found that the chances increase of seeing seals, porpoises and dolphins from the path back to Bull Bay.
Another note of caution: this stretch of path does take you very close to several steep drops which have little or no protection or warning. It’s probably not a walk to enjoy with boisterous dogs or incautious children. Another unexpected potential hazard we encountered was a herd of bullocks blocking the path, but they turned out to be much less interested in us than we were in them.
6. After passing two benches (a particularly good spot for seal-spotting) the path eventually passes through a kissing gate, around a rather large chasm guarded only by a desultory string of barbed wire and on through another kissing gate. Just before the next kissing gate, go right through a metal gate on a path which soon emerges beside the old Bull Bay Hotel.
Ordnance Survey maps are available from all good booksellers and outdoor stores or visit our online shop www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/al