Holyhead Mountain

Holyhead Mountain

Route: Holyhead Mountain/Mynydd Twr

Area: Holy Island, Anglesey, North Wales

Date of walk: 21st September 2021

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 5.6 miles

Ascent: 1,300 feet

Weather: Weak sun and mostly grey skies

Holy Island, or Holyhead Island, is situated on the western side of the larger Isle of Anglesey and is home to the highest sea cliffs in North Wales

We started today’s walk from the lower of the two RSPB car parks near South Stack (free to members, otherwise £5 cash at today’s prices). From the car park we followed the waymarked path to Ellin’s Tower, built in 1867 as a retreat for Ellin, the wife of William Stanley, a local MP. We then joined the long distance Wales Coast Path. The ensuing cliff top path is well waymarked, and this proved to be useful as there are numerous paths around here and it would be easy to follow the wrong one. We walked above South Stack/Ynys Lawd, enjoying good views of its lighthouse, and headed towards the north face of Holyhead Mountain. A direct ascent of the mountain from this side is not possible for ordinary walkers, although it’s a popular place for climbers

Our route took us to the left of the mountain and towards North Stack/Ynys Arw. We continued along the Wales Coast Path and descended to the lighthouse above North Stack, taking care not to stray too close to the vertical cliffs plunging into the sea. From here we retraced our steps for a short distance and then branched off to the left. We followed a path which gave us good views to the port of Holyhead and its long snaking breakwater. It’s necessary to keep a sharp lookout for a path on the right which is the key to the ascent of Holyhead Mountain. We duly located this and started the rocky but easy ascent to the summit. The views from here were huge, although the light wasn’t inspiring and it was rather hazy

Care always needs to be taken when descending from a summit and Holyhead Mountain is no exception. It would be a mistake to descend in the obvious direction of South Stack, clearly visible from the summit. This would lead to the cliffs of the north face which would provide a quick but possibly fatal way down. Instead it’s necessary to head west and locate a path which avoids the crags and provides a rocky but relatively easy way back down to the Wales Coast Way

After retracing our steps along the path for a short distance we branched off to the left at the radio stations to join a path which brought us down to RSPB South Stack (where there are toilets and a cafe). From here it was a short stroll back down the road to the lower RSPB car park and the end of the walk

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