More Welsh Wonders - Jay Birmingham

More Welsh Wonders

Where Fairies Roam

North Wales beckoned, yet again, so we set off to Holyhead for a weekend enjoying the scenery. We were up and out of the door at 5am, ready for sunrise, but unfortunately found a nail in the tyre of the car. We had to ditch our sunrise plans and tentatively head over to Bangor, to wait for the tyre place to open (where the puncture cost us an astronomical amount of money as we had to buy two winter tyres!). We did stop near the Menai Bridge, and took a short stroll on Church Island, which we hadn’t visited since we were at University, earlier this millennium, but this wasn’t quite what we’d had in mind when we set the alarm!

Wallet lighter, and tyre heavier, we went back to Anglesey to visit Newborough beach, which you will know I love, if you have read this blog before! I have recently acquired a Fuji X-T3, for longer walks, as my back has been complaining about the heavy bag I have been carrying everywhere, and this was my first proper opportunity to test it out. We had a lovely stroll – one of the best things about this area is that there can be hundreds of people there, but yet you can walk in the woods and feel like you’re the only one there.

For sunset, we visited South Stack – there are dramatic sea cliffs, and a lighthouse, which you can reach via 400 steps. We walked for about an hour on top of the cliffs, where the light was flat, and decided to take some shots of the steps to the lighthouse, just as the sun set.

We’d decided there wouldn’t be any kind of sunset, but we have learned that it is always best to wait – ‘just in case’. This turned out to be a good decision, as the sky suddenly coloured pink, and became very bright. I sprinted up the steps in order to find a good angle of the lighthouse, and managed to fire a quick shot off, although I was pretty tired from the sprint up the stairs!

  • Singularity

I stayed up very late that night, as there had been a promising aurora forecast, and there is a brilliant location for this on Anglesey. However, as the night wore on, it looked like this wasn’t going to happen, so we went out for sunrise just before 5, and visited Penmon Point. It wasn’t quite as good for photography as I’ve seen it before, as the tide was out, but it did mean we could get closer to the lighthouse as the sun rose.

The mountains were calling after this, so we went over to Cwm Idwal, as the sun was starting to light up Pen Yr Ole Wen, so I was testing out the long exposure capability of the X-T3.

Towards Pen Yr Ole Wen

After breakfast, we visited Fairy Glen. I took a photo of this place in 2017 which was the catalyst for my photography hobby to expand, and I hadn’t been back since. It was a lovely morning to go, and we balanced on the rocks for a few hours, enjoying the view of the narrow gorge filling with light. As the sunlight strengthened, leaves were slowly falling, and the way the light fell on them did actually make them look like fairies. I could have stayed there all day (and I think this was a serious concern for my wife!), but I wanted to pay a return visit to the nearby Roman bridge over the River Machno. It was great to see this lovely place in spring, although quite tricky to photograph as it was a little windy, and the sunlight was very strong (ironically, last time we visited the sunlight wasn’t strong enough – I’m hard to please!)

A final stop before returning home was a new location. Pistyll Rhaeadr is widely claimed to be Wales’ tallest waterfall, which technically isn’t true, as it isn’t a single drop. However, it is very beautiful, so it was worth a visit. It falls over a 240 foot cliff into the Afon Rhaeadr, and is very popular with tourists, as there are many myths and legends about this special place.

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