Returning to Amlwch

Following on from our Bardsey trip, I had just one lighthouse left in North Wales left to bag. While there last week it seemed like the perfect opportunity to resolve this.

I had visited Amlwch on my original lighthouse tour back in 2012, but had failed to spot the lighthouse while there. I also recall from my first visit discovering how Amlwch is pronounced. I had called ahead to the campsite I was planning on stopping at that night. The lady asked what time I would be arriving and I said that I wasn’t sure. When she asked where I was coming from I decided the safest option was to spell out the place name rather than attempt to pronounce it (surely incorrectly). She then informed me it was pronounced “Am-look”, which makes sense when you realise that “w” tends to sound like “u” in Welsh pronunciation. Handy to know!

The view of the lighthouse building from the inner harbour

Anyway, having done some more research since my first visit I had discovered that the reason I’d probably not seen the lighthouse was because from a couple of angles it doesn’t have a very “lighthouse look” about it, just a square building at the end of one of the piers.

Equipped with this additional knowledge we decided to spend a day on Anglesey. Of course a trip to Anglesey would not be complete without a visit to South Stack. We’ve been a few times now, but my parents hadn’t and it was a chance for my dad and our son to get inside and climb to the top. I’ve covered South Stack in previous posts (first visit in 2012, later visit in 2012 and 2015). so won’t go into detail again here.

Finding the lighthouse in Amlwch was straightforward in the end. It sits happily at the end of a very accessible pier. The tower was constructed in 1853 with the lantern added later. This tower is believed to have replaced one dating back to 1817.

Amlwch lighthouse from the end of the pier

Amlwch was a busy harbour back in the day with large amounts of copper being exported from the nearby mines. Local “hobblers” (retired seafarers) were charged with looking out from the watchtower and towing in any ships coming into the harbour.  So there was an obvious need for an aid to navigation in Amlwch.

The lighthouse tower is now home to GeoMôn, a museum centred on the geological history of the area. Amlwch might not be the most exciting of places to visit, but it was good to finally see the lighthouse.

We also made the most of our visit to the area by stopping off to walk around the old copper mine. It’s a very impressive place and, although man-made, makes for some wonderful pictures. I certainly can’t complain too much about anything man-made. I couldn’t get away with having such an appreciation of lighthouses if I did! 🙂

Returning to Hoylake and off to the Skerries

Hoylake lighthouse
Hoylake lighthouse

Last weekend we were heading to Anglesey for a boat trip and decided to drop into Hoylake on the way. In one of my blog posts from last month, I mentioned that the good people at Bidston lighthouse had informed us that the building I had previously thought was the Hoylake lighthouse actually wasn’t. We were travelling with my sister as she was looking after our little boy while we went on the boat trip that afternoon. We found Valentia Road in Hoylake easily enough and my sister and I looked out each side of the car as it’s not always so easy to spot them when they’re among houses. My sister had the joy of spotting it first and we continued along the road to turn around. We decided to drive to the end of Stanley Road to show my sister the building I’d previously seen, which she was very impressed by. She recommended we do something similar with our little old house on the north coast of Scotland – if only I could! We drove back to Valentia Road and got some great pictures of the actual lighthouse, which is nicely framed by big trees when you see it from the road. It’s a stunning building. The light was last exhibited in 1886 and was one of two built in 1865. The lower lighthouse no longer remains, but actually was operational until later than the existing structure, finally being discontinued in 1908.

South Stack - it would have been rude not to visit
South Stack – it would have been rude not to visit

Finally satisfied that I’d seen the real lighthouse, we drove on to Anglesey. We had a brief stop at South Stack to see the lighthouse there, where my sister had a particularly amusing Marilyn Monroe-esque experience with the wind! We parked up at the marina in Holyhead and found a cafe for lunch before meeting the other island-baggers. I’d seen the Skerries before from Holyhead and been fascinated by its beautiful white lighthouse with the red stripe. Fortunately a friend of ours had managed to get hold of Rib Ride who run boat trips from Holyhead and they had agreed to take us out. The boat we went out in was actually formerly owner by Bear Grylls, who just keeps on popping up in my lighthouse endeavours (see my post from August). Bear is actually involved with the company and his boat is actually quite a comfortable set up with nice padded seats. Our pilot, Charles, was also a friendly chap and managed to quickly sort out an engine problem we experienced on the way out, so we made it there safely and Charles moored up alongside a ladder leading up to the island.

The Skerries lighthouse
The Skerries lighthouse

The Skerries is a stunning place, and I really believe that this is in large part due to the positioning of the lighthouse (though others may disagree). The way it has been built to sit on the highest point of the island is fascinating and every view you get of it from wandering around the main island is perfect. Right on time, the sun decided to come out as we arrived too, so we had great weather for exploring the island. We were also joined by the regular howling of the seals playing about in the natural cove, which offers respite to sailors on rougher days. Apparently, some refer to the Skerries as “the Scaries” due to challenges it presents when the sea is rough. The lighthouse on the Skerries has an interesting history and was originally built by the lease-holder of the island, with the light making its first appearance in 1717. Trinity House had previously objected to the lighthouse being built, but in 1834 they made clear the wishes to purchase the structure. For seven years they fought for ownership and, finally, in 1841 it was sold to them and became the last of the privately owned lighthouses to be bought by Trinity House. It was a wonderful place to visit and nice to be able to share it only with the seals (and some made island-baggers too)!

That trip marked the end of our lighthouse bagging trips (as far as I know) for now. Hopefully there will be more before the end of the year, but we’ll just have to wait and see. The more and more you visit the harder they become to get to. We have some great trips lined up for next year already though, which I’m very excited about 🙂