LLANDDWYN ISLAND, NEWBOROUGH WARREN
ANGLESEY, NORTH WALES
By JANET WOOD
Llanddwyn Island is one of my favourite places to visit. Its remote location, with spectacular rugged and exposed landscapes make it a truly outstanding natural beauty spot. Below are a few photographs which will hopefully give you an idea of why I think the island is so special. (Please note: these images have only been scanned at a low resolution in order to protect copyright.)
Llanddwyn Island, pronunced hlanthwyn, means 'The Church of St Dwynwenis' and is situated near the southern entrance to the Menai Strait. It is reached by foot along the beach from the main Newborough Warren car park on Anglesey.
Located about a mile away, the island remains attached to the mainland except during the highest of tides. As you walk you have excellent views of Snowdonia across Llanddwyn Bay. (Photo opposite) Newborough Warren is part of the National Nature Reserve.
Both Llanddwyn and Newborough Warren are acknowledged as having some of the finest beaches in Britain and have been awarded the Blue Flag,
which means they have passed the highest quality of bathing water, safety and environmental standards.
With its wild grass strewn dunes, large granite rocks, lovely sandy
bays, undulating terrain and historical heritage, Llanddwyn is an ideal way to spend a few hours exploring.
Llanddwyn supports a wide range of plant and animal life.
The island was formed by undersea volcanic eruptions. The hardened lava folded and is called pillow lava because of its appearance. ( Photo Opposite) It has a very unusual look and colour.
The cliffs support many nesting seabirds, including cormorants and oystercatchers, whilst waders such as turnstones and sandpipers can be found along the beach and sheep graze near the ruined church.
History of Ynys Llanddwyn:
The island has a long history, including the ruins of a 16th century church (photo below) which was dedicated to the patron saint of lovers in Wales, Santes Dwynwen. The saint's romantic day is celebrated each year on the 25th January, in the same way as the English celebrate St Valentines day.
There are various versions of the story but the most common one says that, Dwynwen, was one of the beautiful daughters of King Brychan Brycheiniog who lived during the fifth century AD. Dwynwen fell in love with an Irish Prince, Maelon Dafodrill, but their love was not to be and a spell turned the prince into ice. Heartbroken she fled to Llanddwyn Island and prayed to God, asking him to grant her three wishes. Her first wish asked that Maelon be revived; her second, that she would remain on Llanddwyn forever and her third, that all lovers coming to Llanddwyn would be happy for the rest of their lives. Hence the reason why she is known as the patron saint of lovers. It is said that in gratitude for the granting of her wishes Dwynwen became a nun and founded a church and convent on Llanddwyn.
The island became so popular by pilgrims during Tudor times that the offerings made funded the building of the church (the ruins you can see today) on the site of Dwynwen's original chapel. Besides the church ruins, there are also two crosses on the island, one is of a celtic design and bears the date of Dwynwen death 25 January 465, whilst the other dates from 1890.
A beacon, called Twr Bach was built on the island to help guide ships but in 1845 a more effective lighthouse was erected.
This lighthouse was called Twr Mawr and was modelled on the windmills of Anglesey. (Photo opposite) Ironically, the older lighthouse has recently come back into service with the addition of a new modern light.
Below you can see the cottages which were built near the lighthouses for the pilots who guided ships up the Strait, that separate Anglesey from mainland Wales. Several cottages have been restored in period style and one now serves as a exhibition were you can read about the people who lived and worked on the island as well as the island's history.
The pilots also used to man the lifeboat which was stationed there from 1840. The canon, which they used to fire in order to gather the lifeboat crew together is still situated in front of the pilot houses. The lifeboat service was eventually closed down in 1903 but during its service it had saved over 100 lives.
The filming of 'HALF LIGHT' on Llanddwyn Island:
The last time I visited the film crew of the film, 'Half Light', starring Demi Moore, were preparing the sets ready for filming which they hope will start around the 6th September 2004.
You can see the scaffolding that had already been erected along with the false entrance they have added to the side of the lighthouse. (Photos opposite and below)
One of the production team told me the film was a romantic thriller with supernatural overtones and the island had been chosen because of its rugged scenery and feeling of remoteness.
The disused lighthouse is expected to be used in several scenes. Apparently Demi Moore's character, Rachel Carson, moves to a small fishing village in an attempt to move on with her life after the tragic death of her 5 year old son. One of the special effects I believe involves a skull embedded in the island's granite cliffs?
Shooting will also take place in England and Ireland. This will be Demi Moore's first leading role in four years. The film's director is Australian Craig Rosenberg who is also the writer of the original screenplay. The film also stars, Henry Ian Cusick, in the leading role of 'Brian'.
The Production Company is Lakeshore Entertainment, which is located at the Paramount Studios, Hollywood which has produced films such as Runaway Bride, The Gift, Mothman Prophecies, Wicker Park, Underworld I /II and Autumn in New York.
LLanddwyn is a beautiful, tranquil and atmospheric place which still attracts many pilgrims as well as photographers, bird watchers and the general public. It's a lovely place to visit with a loved one, whether young or old.
North Wales Walking Books:
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