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Moelfre and the Ancient Village

Walk along Anglesey's beautiful east coast and discover a remarkably intact ancient village.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 1hr 30min

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Well-defined coastal and field paths, 4 stiles

Landscape Sea cliffs and coastal pasture

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 263 Anglesey East

Start/finish SH 511862

Dog friendliness Can be off lead on coastal path

Parking Car park at entrance to village

Public toilets By harbour

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1 From the car park, follow the main road down to the shore. Here, where the road swings left and uphill for the village centre, leave it for the shoreline path on the right.

2 Pass the the Seawatch Centre and the lifeboat station and ignore the footpath signs pointing inland. Instead follow a clear coast path that looks across to the island of Ynys Moelfre. After passing to the right of some terraced cottages and going through a couple of kissing gates the path crosses a small caravan site. It then goes through another kissing gate and climbs past the Royal Charter memorial.

3 After swinging left into Porth Forllwyd, go through another gate and then through a narrow ginnel that rounds the bay, past the cottage of Moryn into the large bay of Traeth Lligwy.

4 On reaching the beach car park, turn left along the narrow lane before going straight ahead at the next crossroads.

5 Take the next path on the right, signposted to Din Lligwy ancient village. Before visiting the village you turn half right across the field to the old chapel, then half left towards the woods, where you'll find Din Lligwy. Return to the lane and turn right along it.

6 After 275yds (251m), turn left along a signed footpath which, after an initial dog-leg to the right, follows a field edge to the roadside quarry at Aberstrecht.

7 Turn right along the lane, then left along a farm lane at Caeau-gleision. This brings you back to the shoreline caravan site met earlier in the walk.

8 Turn right beyond it and follow the shoreline path back to the start.

Being in Moelfre is like being in Cornwall. The pebble beach, the rustic whitewashed cottages looking down from the cliff tops, small boats in a tiny harbour, and there's that same bracing quality of the wave-wafted air. As you stroll along the rocky coastline above the low cliffs, past the two lifeboat stations and the Seawatch Centre, all thoughts are on ships and the ocean. If it's sunny and the breeze is only slight, everything appears so picturesque and peaceful, but as you read the inscriptions on the Royal Charter monument, you get a different story?

The monument remembers the night of 26 October 1859. A proud British cutter, the Royal Charter was on the last stretch of its long homeward journey from Hobson's Bay in Melbourne to Liverpool. Sailing past Ireland there had not been a hint of wind, but as night fell, a savage storm ensued. Captain Taylor signalled for a pilot, but none would come on such a night. In deep trouble, he set anchor, but at 1:30am the chain parted. At daybreak two locals saw the wreck being pounded against the rocks.

To their horror they saw a man shimmy down a rope from the decks and into the furious sea. He had volunteered to try to swim with a hawser for shore, the only means to secure the ship and save the lives of the crew and passengers. Twice he failed, but Joseph Rogers, an able seaman from Malta, finally made it and lashed the ship to a rock. The gallant seaman and the men of Moelfre made a human chain into the breakers. They managed to rescue 18 passengers, 5 riggers and 18 crew, but on that day 452 people, including all the officers and 28 men from Moelfre, lost their lives. The ship also carried gold and, though most of it was recovered, some must still be buried among the barnacles and tangled seaweed in that watery graveyard you see below.

On the way back to Moelfre you leave the sea and follow country lanes through peaceful pastures. Through the hedges you'll spot a roofless 12th-century chapel, which you pass en route to Din Lligwy, an ancient village hidden in the woods. This is a wonderfully preserved Celtic settlement dating back to at the last years of the Roman Empire in the 4th century ad.

In a field further down the lane are the remains of a neolithic burial chamber. The Lligwy tomb has a massive capstone weighing 25 tons. The excavation in 1909 revealed the remains of 15 to 30 people and pieces of Beaker and grooved ware pottery.

What to look for

At Din Lligwy you enter the foundations of the old settlement through thick rubble walls, which would have been added as protection against the Romans who were, in those final years before retreat, quite quarrelsome. The circular huts inside were the living quarters, while the large rectangular hut in the top right-hand corner would have been the smelting workshop - the remains of a charcoal hearth were excavated here.

While you're there

Visit the Moelfre Seawatch Centre where you can climb aboard a real 20th-century lifeboat, learn about the marine wildlife found in these waters and discover Anglesey's fascinating maritime history. Open Easter to September from 11am to 5pm.

Where to eat and drink

Ann's Pantry in the village is set in a pleasant whitewashed cottage with picnic tables in a lawned garden. On the sea front you'll find the Kinmel Arms, its patio garden overlooking the pebble beach. There are bar snacks and more substantial dishes, including freshly-caught fish, served at lunchtimes and in the evenings. Inside there is memorabilia associated with the village lifeboats and rescues, as well as a display featuring ensigns from different parts of the world.

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