Anglesey - Westward ho!
PUBLISHED: 09:38 04 November 2010 | UPDATED: 15:47 20 February 2013
Go west, they said, and sample the vibe of one of the foremost seaside communities in Anglesey
Forget Rock and Newquay because in the foothills of Snowdonia and just over the waters of the Menai Straits lies the resort of Rhosneigr, nestling on the west coast of Anglesey.
Years ago this Edwardian resort was a year round haven for caravanners and campers, many from the North West and the Home Counties.
The caravans and campsites such as Ty-Hen Holiday Park, Bodfan Farm and Shoreside are still there joined by holiday lodges, but Rhosneigr has been transformed into a trendy community where house prices have quadrupled in the last ten years, although you can still buy a large terrace or semi for 200,000.
Its a close-knit community which has kept true to its maritime roots, with homeowners needing increasing amounts of space to stash their wakeboards kayaks, surf and scuba equipment and bicycles.
The good people of Rhosneigr have just banded together to raise funding to build their own village hall on the main street, topped with a weather vane in the shape of a yacht in full sail. Its that sort of place great for lovers of the outdoor life who want to swim, fish, dive, windsurf, play golf at the nearby Anglesey Golf Club or just take a leisurely walk.
The Anglesey Coastal Path now extends to over 125 miles right around the island. Rhosneigr is a beachgoers paradise where wind and sea conditions make it ideal for those in pursuit of more challenging and adventurous things to do on holiday. The buzz of low-flying trainer jets from RAF Valley, now the top air training centre in Britain, barely rates a skyward glance.
The town still has a strong sense of community about it with its own neighbourhood website and Internet guide. You can log on and check the beaches and the sea state via a special webcam at the front of the Funsport surf shop at the end of Beach Terrace.
The award-winning beaches such as Traeth Crygyll (Town beach) are all close at hand: Anglesey has more than a quarter of all the Welsh beaches allocated the special Green Coast award. Several, including Benllech, Holyhead and Trearddur Bay, have the coveted Blue Flag status.
And it was the beach in particular that lured one Rhosneigr resident away from the Gallic delights of his home in the Loire Valley for a new life. Frenchman Alex Tritten, 30, first came to Wales as a French and German teacher but he forsook the classroom for his hobby and passion - kite surfing, which he used to enjoy on the Quiberon peninsular in his homeland.
Tempted to Rhosneigr by the winds and tides, he actually became UK Kite surfing champion in 2002 and now gives private and corporate lessons to anyone with the strength and courage to get as high as a jump jet. But Alexs piece de resistance was opening a little 28-cover bistro and creperie called Mojos (he named it after his pet dog) where he lives above the shop and serves everything French from crepes and croissants to beef bourguignon aided by his Czech girlfriend Nikola.
And if you order the sea bass -the house speciality - you can be sure it will be fresh because Alex actually catches it himself. He goes spear fishing off the beaches of Rhosneigr and nearby Aberffraw and Cable Bay where he regularly catches fish up to ten pounds. And if doesnt spear a fish, you are having the beef.
I love Anglesey, said Alex. Its a very special island and the conditions are ideal for outdoor sport. Its a place which has grown on me. It is very cool. Thats why I decided to stay. But prices have gone up so much recently that if I came here today I couldnt actually afford to buy the building.
Mojos is only open seasonally from Easter to October but it sits on a street where there are plenty of all-year round shops from surf and sports brand such as Gecko and Fatface to Sullivans bar, Sandys and an appealing little caf and ice cream parlour called Bee Bees which is run by newcomer Jill who left Somerset for Rhosneigr over 20 years ago. The caf specialises in wholesome food and appeals to the locals while also catering for the holidaymaker.
Rhosneigr has that away-from-it-all feeling about it but its so down to earth you even have to flag down the train yourself at the local station which can then take you onto Holyhead or London!
For history lovers there is a 6th century church at St Maelogs, an Iron Age site at Llyn Cerrig Bach, discovered by a Rhosneigr resident in 1943 and an ancient burial chamber at nearby Cable Bay featuring some of the oldest artwork in Europe. A former resident of the town,Wing Commander HK Rees was lead digger in the tunnel used in the Great Escape when he was a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft 111.
Maybe someone should build a tunnel under the Menai Straits. Then again, maybe not, because Anglesey is a sanctuary, a magical getaway place, which shouldnt be too accessible whether youre looking for the full throttle adventure holiday it has its own motor race circuit by the sea at Ty Croes - or you just want to relax in its bars, restaurants and quaint cafes.
Anglesey is a land of myths and legends from its Druidic beginnings and through invasions by Romans, Vikings and the English it has always been a talisman of Wales. It has a rich and living history with areas of outstanding natural beauty, such as the stunning Llanddwyn island off Newborough beach.
This is the romantic capital of Wales and home of Santes Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, who also had 23 sisters and whose special day, the Welsh equivalent of Valentines Day, is celebrated on January 25th .
From working windmills - the only one in Wales is at Llandeusant - to quaint market towns, nature trails and family-friendly attractions,
Anglesey is an island full of surprises. A 1.5 million art gallery dedicated to Wales foremost landscape painter Sir Kyffin Williams has just opened at Oriel Ynys Mon, near Llangefni, the present day capital of the island.
Across the island, Beaumaris which is deemed a World Heritage Site, is situated on the eastern entrance of the Menai Straits. Its a vibrant mix of old and new and is loved by tourists for Beaumaris Castle commissioned by Edward 1 in 1295.
A medieval townhouse on Castle Street, dating back to the 15th century, is being lovingly converted into a five-star luxury annexe of Ye Olde Bulls Head by owner David Robertson, from Mobberley. His guests will have plenty of room to breathe that fresh Anglesey sea air.
Anglesey is just that sort of place: a place where you can breathe, and where there always seems to be plenty of room wherever you go on the island.
Further details from www.visitanglesey.co.uk or www.rhosneigr.org.uk/ or contact Anglesey Tourism Partnership on: 0845 0740587