Tag Archives: Newborough

Icy sands and Eleanor’s bottles

Yesterday was a perfectly clear, sunny and bitingly cold day – perfect on Penrhos Beach. It was so cold that the dunes were frozen solid; the rock pools had a covering of ice; and there was a line of ice crystals all the way along the beach marking where the tide turned.

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Tideline ice glinting in the morning sun. Penrhos Beach, Newborough

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Ice crystals at the tideline

It was the first chance I’d had to visit the beach since storm Eleanor blew through last week. She has eaten into the dunes some more and exposed dozens and dozens of old(ish) bottles – and lots of other not so nice trash too.

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A few of the bottles exposed by Storm Eleanor on Penrhos Beach, Newborough


Fatbergs – palm oil pollution?

The Daily Post has been warning that the wreck of the Kimya, which sank in 1991, was disturbed by the recent storms and palm oil from it is once again washing ashore on Anglesey.

Sure enough, today Penrhos Beach was littered with lumps of a white soapy substance that had a very strong smell, like diesel or tar.

And floating on the tide there were more lumps, looking like miniature ice bergs.


A “fatberg” floating infront of Llanddwyn Island


All the white blobs are lumps of a stinky, waxy substance – possibly some kind of processed palm oil. At first glance, they looked like polystyrene breaking up.

There were also a couple of lumps of yellowish, waxy stuff – more what I associate with palm oil – which doesn’t smell like diesel, just a bit like rancid fat and these seem to be more attractive to the birds (and presumably dogs too). If this is palm oil, it can make dogs very ill – so be careful. I can’t imagine it’s very good for any aspect of the marine environment, but Natural Resources Wales seem uninterested, saying it is the Council’s responsibility to clean up…


A smaller piece of yellowish “palm oil” that the birds have been feeding on


Today, 5th November, many lumps of fat remain on the beach, but the wind is doing a good job of covering them up.

On a lighter note, the Council have put out their warning signs for jellyfish…

Anglesey Council jellyfish sign

Portuguese Men o’ War

For about a month, Portuguese men o’ war (Physalia physalis) have been washing up on Cornish beaches. Now they have arrived at Newborough too. I spotted one at the start of the week. Today there were about a dozen dotted along the tide line.


A Portuguese Man o’ War on Penrhos beach Newborough

I had never seen one of these in real life (or death) before, and I was surprised at how petite they are. The sails, or balloons, of the ones I’ve seen are only around 20cm long and 10cm tall at the most. Their colours are stunning.


Portuguese Man o’ War complete with a little fish in its tentacles (and a pound coin to show its size)

Portuguese Men o’ War are related to the Borne by the Wind Sailors (Velella velella) that washed up earlier in the year.

Sadly, there have also been lots of dead seals washed ashore lately: mostly young pups, still coated in their pale baby fur. In south Wales it is being reported that as many as two-thirds of this year’s seal puppies have been killed by the storms. I wouldn’t be surprised if the situation is just as bad here:(

After storm Ophelia

After the eerily quiet start to the day, storm Ophelia hit north Wales with brutal force from Monday afternoon through into Tuesday.


View from the boardwalk the morning after Ophelia

On Penrhos Beach, the sand cliffs have been eaten into again. There is now a vertically faced step of three to six feet running most of the length of the beach. That means it will be harder to “escape” if you get trapped by the tide on the beach. In addition, the whole of the sand cliff has become unstable again – much like it was after storm Imogen in 2016.


The sand cliffs the length of Penrhos beach have been undermined and are crumbling

Within the newly exposed face of sand, I found this perfectly preserved Jewsbury and Brown Spardal bottle, complete with its rubber screw cap. Jewsbury and Brown were taken over by Schweppes in 1964. Perhaps it is possible that this bottle has lain in the sands for more than 50 years…


Jewsbury and Brown Spardal Mineral Water bottle complete with its original vulcanite screw stopper


Detail on the top of the J and B mineral water bottle stopper

I also found an “American style cola” drink can buried in the sand cliff with a date of May 1996.


A coke tin sticking out from the sand cliff face: its date (top line) is May 96.


The sand cliff face where the coke tin was. The tin was about two feet off the ground in a cliff about 14 feet tall.

There must’ve been about 12 feet of sand above the coke tin. Presumably all accumulated since 1996. Wow.


Crab tide

Yesterday’s tide line on Penrhos beach comprised almost nothing but spiny spider crabs, hundreds, probably thousands of them. It looked like crabageddon.


Spiny spider crab shells

In fact, I am assured that these aren’t actually dead crabs, they are just the shells from the annual moult. Which explains why there were no birds taking any interest and no smells either. Somewhere out to sea there will be thousands of naked spiny spider crabs waiting for their new shells to grow.

I was puzzled how the crabs could manage to shed their shells, whilst seeming to leave the shells intact. How was that possible? Then it was explained to me that the shell can hinge open (hinging at the front) and the crab wriggles out the rear.  Once I knew that, I had to go and check it out for myself.


Here’s a freshly washed up crab shell. You can tell it’s empty by giving it a tap and it sounds hollow.


And, sure enough, if you lift the back edge of the shell, it easily opens up to show you the empty space inside:)


I also spotted this “jellied” crab…



The Athena goes into hiding

Earlier this year, the remains of the Athena were more exposed than they have been for a long time.


The wreck of the brig Athena in May 2016

But gradually the sand level on Penrhos beach has got higher and higher and now you’d be hard pressed to even spot where the Athena lies.


The Athena looking towards Llanddwyn May 2016


The Athena early October 2016


The last stubs of the Athena poking through the sand 25th October 2016

(Maybe she was fed up of being photographed so much!)

Filming for “horse mystery” on the beach

Update: September 2017

The crew are once again back at Newborough to film the second series of the “horse mystery”. The series filmed last autumn was released this summer and is called Free Rein: the official Netflix page for it is here.

Whilst filming is going on you’d be well advised to take special care if you’re walking, cycling, or especially horse riding through the forest – the crew hurtle around the forest  tracks in their vans and mules with little consideration for other forest users…


20th September 2016

Hot on the heels of the Sandman Triathlon, Newborough Forest and beaches have now been somewhat taken over by crew and their vehicles shooting for a “horsey teen mystery”.


Cast, including beautiful horses, and crew by Llanddwyn Island this morning

Metro has an article about the production here: there is no name for it yet and it will be aired in 2017.