Tag Archives: Newborough

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

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.


Storm Imogen – a sand eater

Storm Imogen has coincided with the new moon spring tides. The waves are being blown hard against the sand cliffs on Penrhos Beach, eating away the faces that had already become unstable from the incessant rains and winds.


Storm Imogen driving the waves onto Penrhos Beach


Sand slip – before the storm (now gone)


The sea has come right through one of the breaches NRW dug last winter and is now onto the Postman’s Path

Although the winds are set to ease and the waves get smaller, the tides over the next few days will be even higher, so there will probably be more changes to the shoreline before the week is out.

Amongst the flotsam washed ashore by the storm was one of the pink HP printer cartridges the BBC reported on at the start of the year. The cartridges went overboard from a shipment more than a year ago and have been washing up on shores around the UK and Europe ever since. This is the first one I’ve found.


HP cartridge – the first I’ve found

The stormy tide seems to have swept away much of the goose barnacle covered flotsam and jetsam that was accumulating on the beach. Each year there seem to be more and more of these barnacles washed ashore.

Black sands

The recent stormy weather has brought patches of black sands all along the beaches.


A variegated scallop shell on the black sand

Sometimes black sands are caused by oil or coal pollution, but these black sands seem to be solely made from smashed up sea shells and their filmy black coatings. They are, in fact, just a very very thin coating on the surface of the sands.


These black sands are “clean” – they don’t smear or smell


Black sands, Penrhos Beach, Newborough

Amongst the black sands are huge numbers of intact sea shells: whelks, razors, scallops, otters, mussels, oysters… and these in turn are attracting lots of gulls and wading birds to enjoy the feast.

Super-tides and frogspawn

Today and tomorrow will see the highest tides of the spring at Llanddwyn.  In fact, they’re probably the highest they’ll be for many springs to come (although the autumn tides this year will be higher still). The National Tidal and Sea Level Facility website has tidal predictions up until 2026 for the highest and lowest equinoctial tides. They don’t list Llanddwyn, because it’s too small, but they have data for Holyhead and they show that 2015’s tides will be the highest.

Thanks to last year’s storms that ate away at the sand cliffs so much, although the tide is super high, it is still possible to walk along Penrhos Beach at high tide.  It’s a bit slopey though – you could really do with one leg about six inches longer than the other!

The slopey side of Penrhos Beach where the sand cliffs used to be

The slopey side of Penrhos Beach where the sand cliffs used to be

Llanddwyn as a proper island at high tide

Llanddwyn as a proper island at high tide

Meanwhile, in the forest, the frogs have been spawning for about a week.  They have moved back to their old ditch/stream in the newly landscaped area on the Postman’s Trail. Every night new clumps of spawn are being added to the earlier batches: fingers crossed it is going to be a good year for the frogs.

Frogspawn - they're quite hard to spot amongst the reflections of the trees

Frogspawn – they’re quite hard to spot amongst the reflections of the trees

Frogspawn clumps - the newest are the darkest ones in the middle

Frogspawn clumps – the newest are the darkest ones in the middle

Haf Bach Mari Pant – an Indian Summer

In this corner of Anglesey, the beautiful weather that almost always comes in September is called Haf Bach Mari Pant (the little summer of Mari Pant). But who is Mari Pant?

Well, the story goes that she was one of the Newborough Mat Weavers – the ladies who made mats and bowls from the marram grass they collected on the dunes.

Marram grass

Marram grass

Mari Pant (Pant because she lived in a cottage called Pant, which means a dip or a hollow) worked with the grasses at a time when the “business” of mat making was becoming more commercial and organised. Apparently, the main collection of the grasses was in August. But Mari preferred to do her own thing and would wait for the soft warmth of the haf bach (little summer) in September to go collecting her grasses. Hence, locally, the short spell of good weather early in Autumn became known as Haf Bach Mari Pant.

More commonly in Wales, a period of warm and sunny autumn weather is referred to as Haf Bach Mihangel – Michael’s little summer – because it happens, very loosely, around the time of Michaelmas (29th September) – Mihangel being the Welsh equivalent of Michael.

Whatever the name, when it happens, the Haf Bach Mari Pant is a beautiful time: it comes when the children are back at school; most of the tourists have gone home; and the mellowness of autumn is just beginning. Enjoy:)

Penrhos Beach - back to normal now the holidays are over:)

Penrhos Beach – back to normal now the holidays are over:)