The weather seemed to be staying fine, or more accurately, hot, so we packed a rucksack with a picnic, swimming costumes and beach towels and made our way to the one of the car parks situated at the edge of the Newborough Warren dunes.
We’ve walked this area before but it still seems like the skies are bigger, the air somehow cleaner, the colours sharper than anywhere else I’ve been.
We took our time wandering through the scrub and dunes. Not only because we were looking at the huge variety of flora and fauna but because walking over sand dunes is fairly strenuous at the best of times and this time, as we were intending in spending a lazy afternoon on the beach, we were wearing our beach sandals which although they are good are not by any means designed for tramping at speed through the dunes.
Amongst the flowers we saw on the dunes were Marsh Orchids and the much rarer, Marsh Helleborine, an orchid which thrives in the flood / drought conditions of the ‘slacks’ between the dunes.
With all the flowers it was only a matter of time before we got our ‘eye in’ and started spotting all sorts of insects; 6 Spot Burnet Moths, Small Blue Butterflies, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper Butterflies and a lot of others which I couldn’t identify.
We arrived at the edge of the dunes at high tide (ish), we’d usually time this walk to arrive at this point at low water so we can walk across the sand to Aber Menai point but sometimes you just have to go for it regardless of what state the tide is in so we headed right along the edge the salt marsh.
Heading South we made our way over the final dune onto Llanddwyn Bay beach to find miles and miles of golden sand, calm seas and not a soul in sight (there was one but we walked past him until he was out of sight too), it was perfect. We continued up to the point where the sand started to turn into cobble sized pebbles and settled down for lunch and a few hours doing nothing more strenuous than going for a swim and reading a few chapters of our books.
Approaching Fort Belan, Menai Straights West Entrance
It’s been a while since I’ve swum in UK waters and yes, it was a little chilly initially but with the temperature rising into the mid twenties it was great way to cool down and we alternated swimming and baking in the sun for a good part of the afternoon.
Relaxed and about as de-stressed as it’s possible to get while still being able to move we made our way back across the dunes, this time the tide was out so the ‘short cut’ was available and we walked across the still wet Aber Menai beach.
Newly sprouted bright green Samphire, freshly washed by the tide could be found in patches, a popular ‘veg’ to eat with all things fishy it is currently quiet trendy although nearly three miles from the nearest car park, thankfully this salt marsh specialist is safe from over harvesting.
Returning over the dunes the way we came even more moths and butterflies were evident, maybe something to do with the temperature being higher than when we arrived. Six Spot Burnet’s were everywhere, feeding on the orchids, paired up ready for mating. Their offspring were also visible, bright yellow and black stripy caterpillars feeding on the ragwort.
We came across a Garden Tiger Moth hiding under some Wild Pea, I nearly stood on it so moved it off the path where it promptly found some clover and started to feed. This moth is the adult of the furry caterpillars that are seen scuttling across pavements, as kids we always used to call them ‘wooly bears’.
A lazy five mile round trip through the dunes to a pristine beach in glorious weather, perfect.