Tag Archives: tides

Barrel jellyfish on the spring tide

1810-barrel-jellyfish

These two jellyfish were washed in on the high “spring” tide this morning. I flipped one over, and I think they are barrel jellyfish (aka dustbin lid jellyfish – although these were only about 16″ across).

1810-barrel-jellyfish-newborough

The last few nights have seen the highest tides of the year – and it will be a few years before they are so high again. But, because the weather has been so gentle, the tides have done very little damage; hardly even altering the shoreline.

The term “spring” in spring tide comes from old northern European languages meaning to burst (like a pipe springs a leak). The opposite is the “neap” tide, which means pinched (like nip) or scanty.

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

Storms and tides

Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning? Sunrise behind Mynydd Mawr.

Red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning? Sunrise behind Mynydd Mawr.

Sunday 2nd February will see the highest tide of 2014: 5.5m at Llanddwyn Island. That is even higher than the tides at the beginning of January that caused so much damage.
The Met Office is also forecasting gale force winds for the weekend, particularly on Saturday. As the gales will be from the south west, they will drive the tide straight into the coast, again. And it looks like the strongest winds will coincide with the morning tide (5.4m) on Saturday, around 10.00am.

The National Tidal and Sea Level Facility predicts the highest and lowest astronomical tides around the UK years in advance – up to 2026 at the moment. Holyhead is the nearest location to Newborough. The highest high tide is expected next year – February 2015.

The tide times for the upcoming five days are provided by the Met Office for Llanddwyn Island at the bottom of their weather forecast. And the BBC also provides the tide times for the coming week using the data from the Hydrographic Office.

It’s worth checking the tide times if you’re planning a walk on the beach or a visit to Llanddwyn Island: the beach disappears at the highest tides, and Llanddwyn is cut off by all but the lowest high tides.

High tide at Llanddwyn/Newborough beach.

High tide at Llanddwyn/Newborough beach.

Anglesey is included in the charts provided by the Irish Meterological Service, Met Eireann: their five day forecasts are particularly useful and easy to interpret.

A walk to Abermenai Point

Abermenai Point is the most southerly tip of Anglesey. Sitting at the end of Braich Abermenai, a dune and shingle spit, it marks the entrance to the Menai Strait.

A walk to Abermenai Point is almost guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away. And, except for the busiest times in the summer, you can usually enjoy considerable solitude along any of the routes to the point.

If you look at an Ordnance Survey map, you will see that there are “footpaths” shown heading out across the mudflats of Traeth Abermenai, beyond the dunes of Newborough Warren. Although these paths offer the shortest routes to the point, they are within the tidal zone: you need to be very careful if you use them to make sure that you won’t get trapped by the tide.

Nevertheless, being mindful of the tides, you can make a very nice circular walk starting out from the Llyn Rhos Ddu/Marram Grass car park. From there, follow the path towards the forest for approximately half a kilometre when you will see a lane coming down from your right, and a gate into the dunes on your left.

Footpath into Newborough Warren

Footpath into Newborough Warren

Head into the dunes at this point, and keep following the marker posts all the way across the dunes – it’s very hilly! Finally, you will emerge from the dunes onto the edge of the mud flat and you can see Abermenai point ahead of you.

Post in the Abermenai mudflat looking towards Braich Abermenai

Post in the Abermenai mudflat looking towards Braich Abermenai

There are some concrete posts in the flats which can help to guide you, but they’re not official markers. There is a channel about two thirds of the way across the mud flat – depending on the state of the tide it may be nearly dry or it may be more than knee deep – but you’ll always find a way round it by going inland if you don’t want to get your feet wet.

Tidal channel Traeth Abermenai

Tidal channel Traeth Abermenai

The mud flats teem with insects, crabs and birds. At certain times of the year they are transformed into a sea of flowers.

Once you’ve crossed the channel, just keep going and you will reach Abermenai Point. There a derelict little ferry house stands alone.

The old house at Abermenai Point

The old house at Abermenai Point

On the opposite side is Fort Belan. Behind that is Caernarfon airport where two large wind turbines have recently been erected.

To complete the circuit head around to the south side of Abermenai Point and then follow the coast all the way along to the forest edge. If the tide is high, you will need to walk along the dune top rather than the shore.

Once you reach the forest edge, turn up and follow that path all the way back to the car park.

It’s about a seven mile walk altogether, but it feels longer: it warrants a picnic!

The Metoffice website shows tide times as well as the weather forecast on its Llanddwyn/Newborough page (scroll to the bottom of their page for the tide times).

Within the range of “high” and “low” tides there are, of course, very high high tides (so called springs) and very low high tides (so called neaps – from the Anglo Saxon meaning scanty or pinched). Tides at Llanddwyn that are more than 5m are pretty high. A tide that high, especially with the wind behind it, will reduce the beaches to just a slither of sand – or maybe even no beach at all.

Conversely, high tides that are less than 4.5m are low and leave plenty of beach, even when the tide is “high”.

High high tides go hand in hand with low low tides and vice versa. So, on a day when the beach disappears completely at high tide it will be huge at low tide.

The wreck of the Grampian Castle

When the tide is very low and the sea calm, you can see the wreck of the Grampian Castle rising out of the sea in Llanddwyn Bay. This is a relatively recent wreck. The vessel, a converted fishing trawler, 41m in length, ran aground on 2nd March 1987. There was talk of refloating and salvaging her, but it didn’t happen. And in January 1991 another vessel (the Sapphire) ran into the wreck and also sank.

With my camera, it just looks like a bit of a dark smudge in the distance – which is what it looks like in reality from the shore, looking towards the Morfa Dinlle area.

Grampian Castle wreck, Llanddwyn Bay

Grampian Castle wreck, Llanddwyn Bay

Grampian Castle Wreck - zoomed in

Grampian Castle Wreck – zoomed in

The grid reference of the wreck is SH4064260924 (click here to link through to a map of that reference on gridreferencefinder.com).

You can read more about the wreck at wrecksite.eu or on Coflein (the website of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales),

Both sites also link through to other wrecks in the area: it is quite a graveyard for ships and boats, with a few aircraft too. The most photographed is the wreck of the brig Athena.

The lowest predicted tides this year, 2013, will be on the 26th June and 25th July visit the National Tidal and Sea Level Facility website for more information on tides.

Update – 29th May 2013

Another photo, perhaps a bit clearer. It looks a bit like a whale :)

The wreck of the Grampian Castle, taken from the new viewing platform near the main car park in Newborough Forest

The wreck of the Grampian Castle, taken from the new viewing platform near the main car park in Newborough Forest