Photography – Marilyn E Williams
Duration – 2.5 hours. Difficulty – Easy. Length – 4.5 miles
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the longest location name in Europe, we think is a fantastic place to commence this breath-taking stroll. Before starting your route, you many want to take a pose next to the train station signage for a photographic memento and something to remember your amazing trip to Anglesey.
With your back to the iconic train station, turn right and follow the winding road out of the beautiful town, passing quaint little buildings with impressive greenery in-between. For the more adventurous among us, you might want to take one of the little roads on the right and drop down to the shore-line, but please check the tides before you do so as we would hate for you to become unstuck. Once at the water’s edge, turn left, just further along you will soon come across a rather grand statue of Horatio Nelson.
This statue may look like a product of the British euphoria and mourning after Lord Nelson met his heroic death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. However, it was erected by the art lover and sculptor Lord Clarence Paget much later, in 1873. He lived just behind the statue and was an artist who loved to experiment in concrete, thus making this iconic symbol and useful landmark for mariners.
Once you arrive at the Britannia Bridge you are welcomed by two beautiful limestone lions, monumental figures which have been present since the bridge opened in 1850. This bridge was initially commissioned for the convenience of MPs travelling to and from Ireland. Its design was no mean feat with Robert Stephenson, the son of George Stephenson, who was one of the leading railway and civil engineers of the time, taking it on alongside William Fairbairn and Eaton Hodgkinson.
Britannia Bridge was a completely new entity, it needed to be at least 100 feet above the high water level to allow tall sailing ships to move underneath, as well as supporting two train tracks across the waters. After meticulous research, a tubular design, plus box girders were the preferred execution; a moment in history for engineering, as these are still used in construction today.
The bridge remained in use until a fire took hold in 1970 declaring it unsafe. After reconstruction it then reopened in 1972, and in 1980 the road deck was introduced to take the strain off the Menai Suspension Bridge.
While we are on the subject of the Menai Suspension Bridge, let’s move on. Whichever route you take from the Britannia Bridge, whether that’s to cross the water or follow the shore that you are standing on, you will be met with many pretty footpaths, charming buildings and the odd landmark along the way. Be sure to marvel at the flowing water of the Menai Straits framed by the Snowdonia Mountains in the background.
A little further on is the distinctive Menai Suspension Bridge. Completed by Thomas Telford, a Civil Engineer, on 30 January 1826. This became the first means of travelling to Anglesey other than on a boat which was often hazardous and in some cases life-threatening. Back then, this bridge was classed as a triumph of civil engineering – the biggest suspension bridge in the world at the time.
Sixteen huge chains hold up 579 feet of deck, allowing 100 feet of clear space beneath for passing tall ships, whilst spanning the Straits at its narrowest point.
Now, to this day, this bridge still stands as an impressive example of engineering and one of two fantastic main gateways onto Anglesey.
We hope that you have enjoyed your exploration of engineering excellence and that you continue to get out and about in Anglesey following our insightful walks.