An Ancient Guide

The following piece was shortlisted and published in The Guardian in September 2009.

We’re the anomaly heading into Wales on the A55. We’ve no fluorescent wet-suits, no bumper sticker that reads: “On the seventh day God went surfing.” And we’re the only ones using a 12th-century monk as a tourist guide.

“You will find much on Anglesey which is worthy of your attention,” wrote Gerald of Wales in 1188, before crazy golf and Mister Whippy were invented. He was right.

Home for the week is Maes-Y-Gwyddau, Welsh for the Goose Field – a whitewashed stone cottage with walls three feet thick in the village of Rhoscolyn. A short stagger away there’s a great pub called the White Eagle. On summer weekends live music and the smell of grilling steaks drift across the headland.

Like Gerald, we’ve much to see and learn. Shipwrecks are dotted around this coast, including the Royal Charter, which was broken up on the rocks in 1859 with the loss of more than 400 lives. Dickens visited the scene and reported on the aftermath.

We head to rocky shores in search of pirates and treasure chests for Joe and Jake. The Dublin ferry is a wisp of white on the horizon.

At Church Bay, steep, caramel cliffs give way to pebbles and soft sand. Gerald says the Earl of Shrewsbury ran out into the sea in 1098 to attack Orkney pirates. He got an arrow in the eye for his trouble. But the only threat of conflict today concerns the dwindling stocks of cream teas at the Wavecrest Cafe.

Church Bay


About richlakin

I write about things that interest me
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