North Wales (April issue)

We asked for your advice on getting the best from the North Wales coast.

We asked for your advice on getting the best from the North Wales coast.

Here’s what you said…

Richard Worrell writes:

We kept our boat in North Wales for a good number of years before moving her to the West Country in the late 90s. We were at Port Dinorwic Marina (that’s the one on the Menai Straits in the old slate dock) before moving to Conwy Marina soon after it opened.

One of the main attractions of the area is the wonderful scenery. The mountains provide a fantastic backdrop, probably the most scenic in the southern half of the UK. They also help to create one of its less attractive aspects, namely a high level of rainfall as the prevailing damp south westerlies meet the mountain barrier!

Visitors should not expect a plethora of boating facilities, there being only half a dozen or so marinas between Aberystwyth and Liverpool. However, for those willing to anchor there are many charming and sheltered spots. My two favourites are:

Porth Dinllaen about half way down to north west side of the Lleyn Peninsula. This is sheltered from most southerly winds and has a pub (Ty Coch or Red House) on the beach. Nearby Morfa Nefyn has shops and other facilities.

Llanddwyn Island just north of Caernarfon Bar. This is sheltered from most northerly winds. It is not really an island being attached to Anglesey. This is a wild place with no facilities ashore but has spectacular views of Snowdonia.

Finally, no visit to the area would be complete without a passage through the Swellies, part of the narrow channel which separates Anglesey from the mainland. The pilot books make it sound somewhat horrific but tackle it at high slack water and follow the instructions in the Cruising Guide and you will come to no harm. The sense of achievement will be high and the scenery is peerless.

Dave Brettell writes:

I have spent time on Anglesey every year for as long as I can remember. My parents used to have a caravan there, and my cousin lives on the island. I do most of my boating around the north and eastern side of the island, in particular the Red Warf Bay, Cemaes Bay and Bull Bay areas. I also spend a little time around Trearddur Bay. As I trail boat, good launching facilities are a must.

One of the most popular places to launch on Anglesey is Treath Bychan, situated between the villages of Benllech and Molfre and accessible from the main A5025 by means of a country lane. At first glance it may look unsuitable for a trail boat, but there are enough passing places and the lane does become wider as you near the beach. A the bottom of the lane there is a large pay and display car-park with provision for trailers, and a small shop/café. The beach itself has a small concrete slip, but this is only useful for launching at high water, at other times it just provides access to the beach. And beware, during the holiday season and at weekends the beach does become very busy and the car park will be full. Launching, recovering and parking can be a nightmare. At low-water, what was a small cove opens up into a large expanse of golden sand with plenty of space for everyone. The beach shelves quite slowly, so be prepared to get wet when launching and recovering. Although it is possible to launch using a saloon car, a 4 wheel drive is a better bet, especially if venturing onto the sand at low water as it can become quite ‘boggy’ in places.

There is also a small harbour at Treath Bychan, however this is only accessible around high water and is only open to private berth holders. The nearest petrol station is in Benllech, and there is a further petrol station, chandlers and boat yard back down the A5025 at Pentraeth. Also, head north up the A5025 towards Dullas and you will find Dullas Boats in City Dullas. They have a petrol station and a large chandlery on site.

Once launched from Treath Bychan you have access to the whole of Red Warf Bay to the South East, and Molfre, Lligwy and Dullas Bay and Point Lynas/Freshwater Bay beyond to the North. As with most beaches on Anglesey where boats can be launched, there is a 5knot inshore speed limit. Once you are past the yellow speed markets you can open up.

Be careful around the approaches to Red Warf Bay itself, as even at high tides the sand bars can be a hazard. If you intend to visit the Bay and its pubs you should stick to the channel markers or risk running aground. The fishing in this area is excellent, especially for flatties and the like.

The beaches to the north west at Lligwy are clean and sandy, with acres of dunes. They are accessible by car and have a number of car parks, however you cannot launch there. If intending to visit by boat you should watch out for the sand bars. These can be as far as 100 yards from the shore with draft as low as 2ft in some areas. Once you clear them you are back into deep water, so don’t drop your passengers off too early, unless they want a quick dip.

The fishing in the Molfre area is excellent, with plenty of Mackerel, Whiting, Pollock, Sea Bass and the like to be had inshore, whilst deeper waters provide Rays, various species of Dogfish and some smaller sharks. There is also plenty of wildlife to see in the area. Rat Island, just of Molfre, is home to a myriad of seabirds, whilst a colony of seals live on Lligwy Island, but don’t get too close if visiting as there are some treacherous rocks in the area. Also, we have seen dolphins and basking sharks in the bay. When the Mackerel are in season you can be treated to spectacular displays of boiling seas caused by feeding frenzies. Also, watch out for more predatory species joining in the fun, such as Blue and Porbeagle sharks.

The RNLI have a combined inshore/offshore lifeboat station at Molfre, so if the worst should happen, help is never that far away. There are also plenty of sports boat users in the area, however in my experience, VHF use is usually limited to the fishing fraternity.

Further north on the A5025 is Bull Bay. The beach here is a rocky affair with a small concrete slip. Although it looks daunting, launching and recovery is easy at all states of the tide, although a 4 wheel drive will be needed as the rocks can get slimy. Bull Bay is not as popular as Treath Bychan as there is no sandy beach, so it is often quieter. Once on the water you can head east towards Amlwych port and the beach at Point Lynas beyond, or West towards Wen Bay. A word of caution here. The tides can be quite fierce around Point Lynas and to the West of Bull Bay.

There are a few pubs in the immediate area, and a small pay & display car park is provided. Parking with a trailer is also possible. Heading back down the A5025 into Amlwych you will find petrol stations, cafes and local shops.

Fishing off Bull Bay can be spectacular. When in season Mackerel abound inshore, as do most other staple sea fish. Head further out to sea and you will have the chance to land some monster skate and smaller sharks.

Further round the A5025 still is the small village of Cemaes Bay. There are two options to launch here. Take the lane towards the Gladlys hotel and head for the sandy beach where you will find a small car park and slip onto the beach. You have to be careful here, as the sand is quite soft so a 4 wheel drive and some bottle is the order of the day. Stay on the A5025 until you hit the main route into the village and you can access the harbour and its slipway. The only problems here are the tight squeeze as you pass to the left of the Stag Pub, and the awkward access to the slip in the harbour. Also, you only have a couple of hours either side of high water as the harbour will dry out. Parking around the harbour area, especially with a trailer, can be problematic, so be prepared to drive back to the beach car park, or use the pay & display in the village.

There are plenty of pubs and cafes in Cemaes Bay, and a petrol station a little further round the A5025, just past Wylfra Power Station.

Once again, fishing around the Cemaes Bay area is good, as are the views. Spectacular craggy headlands abound, and to the East the great white obelisk at White Lady Bay near Llanbadrig is spectacular. Head West, towards the warm water outlet at Wylfra Power Station, and be prepared to land a monster Pollock. Beware here however, as in common with most of the exposed northern coast of Anglesey, the currents can be formidable.

Further west still, where the A5025 meets the A55 you will find Trearddur Bay. There is a small concrete slip onto the beach, and a trailer friendly car park just up the road. The slip will lead you into the drink at high water, or onto the sandy beach at other times. As with Treath Bychan, Trearddur Bay is very popular with boaters and PWC users, so it can be very busy at weekends and during the holiday season. Also, the beach can become quite boggy in places, so again a 4 wheel drive is the order of the day. Also, be sure to obey the 5 knot inshore speed limit here, or expect a visit from the PWC plod.

There are a number of cafes, pubs and shops in the local area, as well as a petrol station and small chandlery. Also, there is an inshore lifeboat station at Trearddur, so again, help is never that far away.

Once launched you have excellent deep water fishing to the north, but again beware of that treacherous current. Also, do not be tempted to stray too far inshore to the north, as there are some dangerous rock pinnacles hiding just below the surface. Also, approximately 1/2 mile off shore to the south west a large rock pinnacle hides just below the surface, ready to catch out any unsuspecting skipper. It is marked on the charts, and is visible at low water. Also, it will usually have a plethora of day fishing boats scattered around it as the fishing here is excellent, large whiting, Pollock and gurnard abound.

Head South and the fantastic sandy beaches, inlets and coves of the western side of Anglesey are just a cruise away. You will also be treated to a free air show courtesy of the fighter pilot training that takes place at RAF Valley. You may also catch a glimpse of visiting fighters from may country’s.

Beware though, the main shipping separation scheme is not that far offshore, so keep a weather eye on your position.

One word of caution about Anglesey as a whole. When the weather is good I find there is no better day cruising ground. But the weather can change quickly and the seas in the area are notorious. That said, if the seas on one side of the island are rough, it is usually a safe bet that the other side will be calmer. Whatever the weather, I always ensure I contact Holyhead Coast Guard with my plans and my ETA back in port. They have excellent coverage all around the island, and can usually be contacted using a handheld VHF as well as the fixed set. Always listen to the regular weather reports as well.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the Isle of Anglesey council has cottoned on to the growing popularity of boating in and around the area. They now require all craft that will launch from the island to be registered, and will charge a launching fee. Registration costs upwards of £25.00, and you need to have proof of insurance. They also charge upwards of £15 to launch and recover the boat, so it can be an expensive day out. If you are a regular user they do a season ticket, but this is also expensive.

If you are visiting for the weekend and intend to camp, St David’s Campsite at Red Warf Bay have a private slipway and will launch and recover with their own tractor for leas than £10.


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