Anglesey is a beautiful island with a fantastic coastline and very popular with tourists. In addition to its aesthetic appeal and world class geology it also has a wealth of wildlife, very varied habitats, tremendous archaeological heritage and considerable mining and quarrying heritage.
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The coastline of Anglesey was designated as an AONB in 1967 in order to protect the aesthetic appeal and variety of the island’s coastal landscape and habitats from inappropriate development. The AONB is 221sq kms covering a third of the island, principally the coastal strip but also including Holyhead Mountain and Mynydd Bodafon.
A number of the habitats found on Anglesey are afforded even greater protection both through UK and European designations because of their nature conservation value, these include: (links to formal documents, maps and management plans)
SPECIAL AREAS OF CONSERVATION (SAC)
A Special Area of Conservation is defined under the EU Habitats Directive. These are sites of European importance designated by a Member State where the necessary conservation measures must be applied to maintain or restore the site to Favourable Conservation Status. There are seven terrestrial SACs in Anglesey and one marine SAC.
NEWBOROUGH WARREN – YNYS LLANDDWYN SAC
This site encompasses one of the finest dune systems in the country, along with the two adjacent estuaries. The dunes, though partly afforested with conifers, are internationally recognised (with Tywyn Aberffraw to the north and with Morfa Dinlle on the opposite shore of the Menai Strait) as part of a Special Area of Conservation SAC and the saltmarsh and mudflats of the Afon Cefni and Afon Braint estuaries are similarly designated SAC.
There are various access points, including the popular drive to the beach car park from Newborough Village (charge for vehicles at the forest gate) or from car parks at the southern end of Malltraeth cob (embankment) or at Llyn Rhos-du and Penlon. Most of the non-afforested area including the beach an Ynys Llanddwyn is a National Nature Reserve. Newborough Warren – Ynys Llanddwyn NNR was first established in 1953 and now covers virtually all the open dunes and the foreshore from the Afon Cefni to the Afon Braint, including Ynys Llanddwyn itself. Some parts of the dunes are owned by CCW but most of this land is held under lease from the Crown Estate, Isle of Anglesey County Council, the Forestry Commission and several private landowners. Access on foot in the forest and on the beach is open to all. There are footpaths across the open dunes which give a good cross-section of the dune zonation.
Marine Protection Areas
SPECIAL PROTECTION AREAS (SPA)
Core Management Plans detailing the Conservation Objectives for the whole suite of Natura 2000 sites can be found on the CCW website.
The International Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands, signed in the city of Ramsar, Iran in 1972 comits signatory states to the conservation of important saline and freshwater wetland areas. Originally motivated to protect wetlands for migratory birds, the convention also covers other ecologically important wetlands. On Anglesey, the fens of Cors Erddreiniog, Cors goch, Cors Bodeilio and Cors y Farl, along with similar areas at Cors Geirch and Cors Hirdre on the Llyn Peninsula, form the Anglesey and Lleyn Fens Ramsar site.
NATIONAL NATURE RESERVES (NNR)
NNRs are areas established under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 in order to protect the most important areas of wildlife habitat and geological formations in Britain, and as places for scientific research.
Wales has the UK’s second largest expanse of fens. These fens include four National Nature Reserves (NNRs), three of which are on Anglesey . Cors Erddreiniog is the largest Cors Bodeilio and Cors Goch. These NNRs contain a rare type of wetland fed by alkaline water that drains into the fens from the porous limestone rocks that surround them. The alga, chara, secretes a calcareous ooze or marl in these lakes. All three Anglesey Fens nature reserves are open all year round. Many of the tracks in the reserves are rough in places and not suitable for wheelchair users, but at Cors Erddreiniog a new fully accessible boardwalk runs right around the reed beds for some 1000 metres, finishing at a bird hide overlooking a freshwater lake.
NORTH WALES WILDLIFE TRUST RESERVES
LOCAL NATURE RESERVES (LNR)
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are areas dedicated by the local government under S23 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside act 1949 for the purpose of conserving nature for public benefit. There is a strong emphasis on people, particularly children, having access and educational benefits.
Coed Cyrnol LNR (Menai Bridge)
Y Dingl LNR (Llangefni)
Wylfa Head LNR (Cemaes)
SITES OF SPECIAL SCIENTIFIC INTEREST (SSSI)
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is an area that has been notified as being of special interest under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for its flora, fauna, geological or physiographic features. Notification as an SSSI is a legal mechanism to protect sites that are of particular conservation interest because of the wildlife they support, or because of the geological features that are found there. Notification as a SSSI does not confer any special rights of public access so please check first for access before visiting. However, many areas are on public land or open access land or can be viewed from public rights of way (footpaths and bridleways)
There are 60 SSSIs in Anglesey. Some of these are also designated SAC or SPA or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) under other legislation.
There are three sections of open, undeveloped coastline which have been designated as Heritage Coast stretching along 50 kms (31 miles) of the coastline:
- North Anglesey 28.6kms (17 miles) – largely rugged cliffs with small bays, including the historically important port of Cemaes, the brickworks at Porth Wen and the copper exporting harbour at Porth Amlwch.
- Holyhead Mountain 12.9kms (8 miles) – including the iconic lighthouse on Ynys Lawd [ South Stack] and cliffs extremely important for breeding seabirds, especially guillemot, razorbill and puffin.
- Aberffraw Bay 7.7kms (4.5 miles) – a stunning sandy beach backed by a large area of sand dunes. The small town was once home to palace of the Kings of Gwynedd and a thriving port, now all silted up.
Anglesey boasts 52 Scheduled Ancient Monuments out of the total of 121 for the whole of Wales in the care of CADW [the Welsh body ~ English Heritage].
- several Neolithic settlements [cyttiau gwddaelod or ‘Irishman’s huts] – eg South Stack, Porth Dafarch
- many burial chambers, the most famous being Barcloddiad y Gawres near Porth Trecastell and Bryn Celli Ddu
- innumerable standing stones – especially those at Penrhos Feilw featured in our logo
- Iron Age settlements including Din Lligwy, Din Silwy
- Mynydd Twr [Holyhead Mountain]Iron age hill fort
- Caer Gybi – Roman fort
- Mynydd Twr [Holyhead Mountain] – Roman signal station / lighthouse
- Norman castle – Aberlleiniog
- Edwardian castle (World heritage site) – Beaumaris
- medieval monastery – Penmon
- Hafotty medieval manor house reputedly linked to Henry VIII