Secret Beaches Wildlife Walk - Rhoscolyn
Looking for a circular coastal walk on Anglesey with stunning views and not too long? Here's a great route round the Rhoscolyn headland taking in the stunning Silver Bay. Children will happily walk this as there is plenty of variety - exciting coves, woodland paths and rocky outcrops just waiting to be climbed!
Duration: 2 – 3 hours
Type: Circular walk. Mostly flat, some rough, rocky and boggy ground.
Distance: Approx 6km (3.9 miles)
Recommended Parking: By St Gwenfaen’s Church - LL65 2NQ. No charge.
Start: St. Gwenfaen’s Church Rhoscolyn
Finish: St. Gwenfaen’s Church Rhoscolyn
Grid Ref: (SH267756)
This is one of my favourite walks because it is so varied and as well as the spectacular Anglesey coast, it includes some lesser-known paths and sheltered inland habitats. This walk is not well known, unlike the Rhoscolyn headland walk with its world-famous geology (though if you like a longer walk you can join the two together).
This walk is ideal for those who dislike a steep climb as it is fairly level and there is a fabulous surprise view if you take the walk in the direction recommended.
1. With your back to the church, turn right down the road, then right again, signposted ‘The White Eagle’. The first part of the walk is down a traditional ‘sunken lane’ which winds its way to the beautiful white sandy beach at Borth Wen.
The banks of the lane create a fantastic habitat for wildflowers. In April/May you can see shiny yellow celandines, deep purple violets and white scurvy grass. The scurvy grass is so named because the leaves are rich in vitamin D and sailors reputedly took it to sea with them to prevent scurvy.
2. Walk past the White Eagle pub on your right, which can be returned to at the end of your walk for a lovely hot chocolate or coffee on the terrace, cold drinks or lunch which I would highly recommend. (If the weather is hot they do a fabulous Pimms)! At the second bend (check), where there is a cottage with a white-painted roof, there is a slightly hidden footpath sign on your left. You may feel as though you are walking into a private garden, but the path can easily be found by following the gravel drive to a metal kissing gate, to the right of the pretty white cottage.
3. You then walk across two meadows, with lovely views of the sea and a large reed bed to your right (listen for sedge warblers and look for a reed bunting here).
I love this part of the walk, as it can be warm and sheltered. In summer the meadows are full of a huge variety of grasses and wildflowers. It is a perfect example of how special and unspoilt Anglesey is. Many of the small fields are traditionally cut for hay, which allows all the different wildflowers to bloom and seed, bringing with them a diversity of butterflies, insects and birds. These cosy little fields and scattering of white cottages also make a welcome change to the wilder rocky coast.
4. The footpath brings you out onto another tiny, sunken lane. Turn right along the lane, and you will quickly come to a fork in the road - take the left-hand fork. This shortly passes a woodland which in May will be full of bluebells.
The sight and smell of bluebells are one of the best wildlife spectacles you can experience in Britain. North Wales is gifted with many swathes of these beautiful flowers. It always makes me feel completely happy when I am out walking and can enjoy their gorgeous fragrance and colour!
5. The view soon opens out, giving views of fields, the extensive sandy beach towards Rhosneigr, the RAF airbase and the distant mountains of Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsular. Stay on the lane, which is part of the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Footpath. You will cross a cattle grid, and tarmac gives way to a rough stone track. Continue over a stile, and head diagonally right across the field. It is well signposted and will bring you to a sheltered pine woodland.
6. Before you enter the woods, there is a convenient boardwalk over a marshy area.
It is worth stopping here on a sunny day as it is a great habitat for a variety of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies. Once in the woodland, I enjoy the smell of pine and the sound of birdsong. From April onwards listen out for the distinctive sound of a chiffchaff or siff saff in Welsh. (They sing out their own names repeatedly)!
7. It is only a small wood and you will soon experience one of the highlights of the walk as you arrive at the top of a huge, clean sand dune and see the curve of white sand and sparkling sea of Silver Bay below you! This is a great place for a picnic or drink stop, a paddle or a swim. If you are walking with children you could even make a day of it and spend a good few hours here. (Note there are no toilet facilities).
8. Walk along the beach to the right. At the far end you leave the beach and re-join the footpath - walk up the slipway and bear to the left.
The next bit of the walk has a rugged, rocky beauty with low cliffs, big boulders and short coastal grassland which from April until June is bursting with the special coastal wildflowers of Anglesey springtime. It is easy to spot the pink cushions of thrift (or sea pink) and the lovely star-shaped flowers (spring squill). The spring squill belongs to the bluebell family and the Welsh name for them is perfect- Seren y gwanwen means star of the spring – they flower in spring and are shaped like little stars.
Look out for black and white oystercatchers with big orange beaks among the rocks and small birds on the heathland called stonechats. Follow the yellow footpath signs over this beautiful headland and notice some big boulders, called erratics which were dumped by the retreating glaciers which covered Anglesey in the Ice age.
9. There are some lovely hidden coves with great rock-pooling potential along this stretch, but if you prefer sandy beaches you will soon reach Borth Wen, Rhoscolyn’s perfect white-sand beach surrounded by idyllic white cottages. This is a lovely place to spend the day and one of my favourite swimming spots, very safe, with crystal clear blue-green water and a completely unspoilt back-drop. There are toilet facilities in the car park at the furthest end of the beach.
10. It is not far to the end of the walk, which can be reached by following the lane up to the White Eagle and to where you left your car at St. Gwenfaen’s church.
If you want to carry on walking, the next part of the coast is absolutely stunning too.
Walk from the Door
This walk can be accessed on foot from the door of the majority of our holiday cottages in Rhoscolyn.
The Cabbage Patch
Ty Capel Rhoscolyn