The hotter and sunnier the weather, the busier the beach becomes. If that’s not your cup of tea you can still find peace and space by heading inland. The little nature reserve of Llyn Parc Mawr is a good place to try. Heading from Newborough towards Malltraeth, the car park for the reserve is on the right-hand-side of the road.
There are some short walks signposted from the car park, but for a slightly longer route head out of the car park and turn left at the road. After about 50m you’ll see a track on the left heading alongside the edge of the forest: follow that track!
The track is bounded by the forest to the west and wet meadows to the east. In winter, geese graze in the meadows with the cattle; in summer they are filled with dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies.
On the forest side, as well as ivy and honeysuckle scrambling through the trees, there are also wild hops and black bryony.
Follow the track for approximately one kilometre, when there is an unmarked turning on your left: it can be hard to spot. There is a little footbridge made of railway sleepers crossing the ditch and taking you into the forest. If you reach the double gates for Tan Lan Farm on your right, you’ve gone a little bit too far.
At first the path may be overgrown, but if you press on, it begins to open out. In a few minutes you’ll see a more substantial wooden footbridge crossing the same stream you walked over as you came down the track.
A little while further and you come to a crossroad of footpaths: to the right it’s a dead end; to the left, it will take you to the lake; choose the path straight ahead. This is a favourite place for woodpeckers and buzzards.
Once again, after a little while, you’ll come to a footbridge, having crossed it you’ll be walking along the northern edge of the forest with the openness of the Malltraeth marsh to your right.
When the path comes to the end of the forest, follow it round to your left. And when it meets the forest track, turn left again and follow the track. This will lead you back up to the lake. There used to be a bird hide at the end of the track, but that has been taken away. Now you can just about catch glimpses of the lake through the trees. In winter, it is a favourite place for egrets, geese and ducks.
Retrace your steps down the forest track for about a hundred metres and you’ll see a footpath turning on your left. This path will take you back to the car park.
From the car park you can get a better view of the lake (where another bird hide has been taken away, but a clearing still remains). There are also a few picnic tables under the shade of tall birch and pine trees.
From the picnic tables you can watch red squirrels and woodpeckers making use of the feeders that are provided for them.
All in all, it’s about a 2.5mile walk.
The grid reference for the car park is: SH41348 67040
Update: since 2015 Llyn Parc Mawr has been handed over to a “community” management group to run (rather than being run directly by Natural Resources Wales). Consequently, it is less peaceful than it once was and you may stumble upon group activities around the reserve. It’s still very nice though:)