I was delighted to be the winner of a recent competition for ‘The Anglesey Experience’ which was sponsored by Virgin Trains, Tre-ysgawen Hall, Celticos and Rib Ride Experience. My husband, Steve, and I were in for a real treat!
We were met at Chester station by Brendan from Virgin Trains and travelled in style on the first class service to Holyhead. We enjoyed stunning views of the North Wales coast whilst tucking into a cooked breakfast and a cuppa. After just over an hour, we were crossing the Britannia Bridge, the gateway to Anglesey, and on our way to meet our tour guide Alwyn Griffith from Celticos who looked after us extremely well for the whole weekend. Celticos offers walking, foraging and craft related tours in North Wales and it was immediately obvious that we were in the hands of a real expert.
First, our bed for the night: the magnificent Tre-ysgawen Hall in rural Llangefni. The house was built in 1882 and was originally home to the Pritchard-Rayner family. I thought to myself that this place would have a few tales to tell and maybe even the odd ghost!
After a warm welcome we were shown up the sweeping main staircase to our room, a huge double overlooking the front of the building. As you would expect from a four star hotel, there was an ensuite with fluffy towels and robes, a complimentary drinks tray and bottled water. We were also please to find two crunchy apples.
After settling in, we were introduced to our guide from Anglesey Hawking who was taking us on a hawk walk in the grounds of the hotel. I was very excited about this, as handling a bird of prey is on my bucket list, and I was delighted that Sam, the harris hawk was indeed friendly and happy to come to a stranger as long as there was a tidbit in it for him. The grounds are full of bluebells this time of year which are just lovely.
Late afternoon and it was time for some indulgence back at the hotel! I had an exfoliating seasalt scrub and Steve had a relaxing back massage. We followed this with a restorative dip in the beautiful pool before getting ready for dinner.
As an avid viewer of MasterChef, I was delighted with the fine dining menu at Noelle’s restaurant. I chose an in season asparagus starter and a Welsh beef main course which was beautifully presented and delicious. For pud, I opted for a chocolate tart. We chose an excellent Chilean Sauvignon Blanc to accompany our meal.
Soon enough it was time for bed and to see if there would be any ghostly goings on. Apart from a slight ‘cold’ feeling I experienced at the top of the back stairs, I can report no paranormal activity!
The weather forecast for Saturday was abysmal, but this didn’t deter Alwyn, our Celticos guide, who assured us that we would dodge the showers, and indeed we did!
We started with a visit to Oriel Mon gallery where we had the opportunity to view some beautiful artwork as well as gaining an insight into some of the history of Anglesey.
Next was my favourite part of the island, the 2000 year old village at Din Lligwy. I loved the sense of history and the feeling of being at one with nature. The wild garlic smelt heavenly!
We then had a whistle stop tour of some of the island’s main attractions including the lifeboat at Moelfre,
Amwlch Copper Kingdom, Llynon Windmill and Celtic Houses. At Swtan, the last thatched cottage on the island which is now a heritage museum, we purchased a rather nice homemade bara brith (just like my mum used to make!). Yummy.
Because of the poor weather, we couldn’t get all the way to the lighthouse at South Stack, but as keen birdwatchers, Steve and I will be back for another visit soon.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a food lover and attach a great deal of importance to the provenance of food, so it was great for Alwyn to introduce us to Nigel, a local producer at his smokehouse, where we were able to buy some local cheese. He also arranged for a special cheese tasting later that evening after dinner.
We enjoyed another fine dinner at Noelle’s on Saturday night, this time, sampling smoked salmon, Welsh lamb and a scrumptious Eton mess.
Our first Sunday activity was a RibRide.
It was with some trepidation that I set foot on the ‘RIB’ at Menai Straits. The experience however was exhilarating. First our skipper took us up to the Menai Bridge and into the ‘Swellies’ to acclimatise us to the boat, then it was onwards for a ride of a lifetime along the strait. It was a cold, blustery day, but nonetheless, Steve was delighted to see shags, herons, cormorants, oyster catchers, and terns (putting on a magnificent diving display). This was paradise for bird lovers.
To end our wonderful weekend, we had a fish lunch at Dylans on Menai Straits – a fantastic view and some great seafood. What more could we ask for!
Anglesey: We will be back soon!!