Anglesey’s coastal geology and landscapes….

Conway, J S 2010 “Rocks and landscapes of the Anglesey Coastal Footpath / Creigiau a thirweddau Llwybr Arfordirol Ynys Môn”  192pp Seabury Salmon. ISBN 0-9546966-3-8  (available from the GeoMon website)

This book is for those who are interested in the wonderful scenery of the Anglesey coastline – so beautiful it was designated an AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1967 in order to protect it’s aesthetic appeal and the variety of the island’s coastal landscapes and habitats from inappropriate development. It also forms the most visible part of GeoMon, the Anglesey Geopark which received European and UNESCO recognition in September 2009.

The western coast is characterised by a series of rocky headlands with intervening sandy bays and extensive sand dunes that enclose shallow marshes. Impressive sea cliffs dominate the northern coastline, while on the eastern side of Anglesey, more modest limestone cliffs and wide sandy beaches provide an interesting contrast. Two tidal straits – the Menai Strait and the Inland Sea – provide more sheltered coastal landscapes. The mountains of Snowdonia and Llyn dominate the view along the south and west coast making a stunning contrast to the softer, gently undulating landscape of the island.  The Great Orme and the eastern part of Snowdonia are in view along much of the east coast from Lynas round to Beaumaris.

For the most part the coastal zone is largely unspoilt and it is easy to see how the rocks and the pattern of their erosion have influenced both the natural scenery and the development of soils types that themselves controlled the pattern of land use.

I believe that the rocks are interesting in their own right, for the story they tell of the history of Anglesey over hundreds of millions of years, a journey from around 60˚ south of the equator to its present position.

The wide variety of rock type and structure reflect the variation in coastal landscapes – this booklet sets out to explain how and why, and give you many examples where the different rocks can easily be seen.  By weathering to form various types of soil, the rocks have also influenced the development of natural plant communities that contribute to the beauty of the area.

Both the rocks and the soils have contributed much to the island’s economy over the centuries and this is reflected in the archaeology, the industrial archaeology and present day farming that can be seen from the coastal footpath.

How to use this book

The first section explains the origins and the nature of the geology and the landscape we see today.  The main part assumes you are walking the coastline and will start by crossing the Menai suspension bridge to reach the Island.  It describes the coastal footpath (with diversions to areas of rich geological interest) in a clockwise direction, finishing up in the town beneath the bridge.  I have included details of cafés, toilets and other facilities en route, but of course some of these are only seasonal and some are unfortunately ephemeral given the vagaries of the tourist trade and may no longer exist.  Everything I mention was open and working in the summer of 2009.