If you are looking for an alternative Valentine break or romantic escape, why not whisk your loved one away to windswept Llanddwyn in North Wales?
Looking for a slightly cheaper paradise island retreat for a romantic weekend? Why not head to North Wales and Llanddwyn, an island off the southern coast of Anglesey that’s not really an island at all.
The long beach at Newborough Warren leads to Llanddwyn, a little known Mecca for the romantic that was once a point of pilgrimage for the lovesick. The name Llanddwyn itself means “the church of Dwynwen”, the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
Dwynwen's story is one of boy meets girl that sadly does not end with a happy union. Instead, she rejects Maelon’s advances and dreams she is given a potion that will release her from any lovestruck feelings. Rather unfortunately this potion turns her suitor into ice. She then prays for three wishes; for Maelon to be revived, for all true lovers to find happiness and never to marry. After all this, Dwynwen firmly turned her back on romance and retreated to the solitude of Llanddwyn Island to follow the life of a hermit.
But her island home became a place of pilgrimage, with lovers travelling to her well to assess the faithfulness of their suitor, which it was believed could be divined from the movements of some eels that lived in the well. The trick for this was for the woman to scatter breadcrumbs and then lay her handkerchief on the surface. If the eel disturbed it then the lover would be faithful.
This shrine grew in popularity, becoming the richest in the area during Tudor times.Today it continues to attract visitors who come today perhaps more for the bracing fresh air and expansive views across to the majestic mountains of Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula.
Llanddwyn is located at the far end of the beach and has a narrow sliver of land connecting it to the mainland. But it is not quite an island and remains attached and therefore accessible at all but the highest of tides. Backed by rolling dunes, rocky outcrops and with tucked-away hidden bays, it’s an ideal location for some strolling hand in hand.
On a wintery day wrap up and take a walk as the waves whip and dance to the tune of the breeze. On warm summer days children play at the sea's edge with fishing nets and buckets and spades. It can get busy and yet in its broad sandy shores there is enough space for everyone to explore. You can walk all the way out to the Tŵr mawr beacon at the tip of the ‘island’, built to guide ships into the nearby southern entrance of the Menai Strait. Nearby, two of the old pilots' cottages have been restored.
Head down to the rocky shoreline of Llanddwyn and you will find tucked away beaches and quiet coves. The only sounds to disturb your romantic seclusion will be the cry of the cormorants wondering what you’re up to.
Where to eat
Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn, Beaumaris
Ruby, Menai Bridge