If you hadn’t read part one yet, here it is.
After parting ways with my flatmates I headed out of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch and headed west towards my next target, Bryn Celli Ddu, an ancient neolithic tomb. I knew the tomb lay somewhere in the countryside west of the Llanfair PG but I’d stupidly forgotten to bring a map with me.
For the most part of the journey there was a wooden walkway in the fields opposite the road which proved me with some protection from the countless cars and the mud, however after 45 minutes of following this track I hadn’t seen any signposts to Bryn Celli Ddu and the afternoon was dragging on. After a while the walkway ended and I had to resort to walking alongside the road, just as a neared a National Trust property, called Plas Newydd, I hear a loud rustling in the trees to my right. Suddenly two red squirrels burst out of the foliage and ran towards me, before I could get my camera out, they’d seen me and fled back into the trees. Red squirrels are very rare in the British Isles and Anglesey is one of the only places south of Northumbria where you can see them in the wild, even then is estimated that there is only a thousand or so living on the island and this was the first time I’d ever seen one. At this point I decided that I’d give up my search for Bryn Celli Ddu and headed instead for Plas Newydd, hopefully there would be more red squirrels hiding in the grounds.
I had my National Trust volunteer card with me so I got into the house for free, which always feels great. Plas Newydd itself was built on the banks of the Menai Straits, overlooking Snowdonia, unfortunately by this time in the day thick clouds had descended so there wasn’t much in terms of a view. Though some parts of the house date back to the 14th century, the architect James Waytts greatly altered the house in the late 1700s.
In 1812 the house became the home of Henry William Paget, the 1st Marquess of Anglesey, and it has remained in his family ever since. The 1st Marquess of Anglesey was famously wounded in the Battle of Waterloo, during which he is said to have told the Duke Wellington ‘By God sir, I’ve lost my leg!’ and to which the Duke plainly replied ‘By God sir, so you have’. After its amputation the Marquess’s leg went on to become a macabre tourist attraction, bringing in all sorts of visitors. After Henry Paget there were 4 more Henry Pagets, the last one of these, Henry Paget the 5th Marquess, was renown for his extravagant lifestyle and his ‘sinuous, sexy, snake-like, dances’, so basically he was the Miley Cyrus of the 19th century. The next few Pagets spent their lives trying to repay the debts left by the 5th Marquess and in 1976 the 7th Marquess handed the property over to the care of the National Trust.
Like most stately homes there’s a wide range of lavished rooms and expensive art. The estate also boasts a large garden and extensive woodland which is worth exploring, sadly I didn’t see any more red squirrels.
Afterwards I began my long, long walk home, however I still had one stop to make. Back in Llanfiar PG, I headed south towards the Britannica Bridge. After walking through a churchyard I finally came upon to the edge of Anglesey and the shores of the Menai Straits. Standing there was a statue dedicated to Admiral Horatio Nelson who fell at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
It certainly is a curious thing to find on some isolated shore on Anglesey as when most people think of Nelson they undoubtedly think of Nelson’s Column in London. However Nelson once described the Menai Straits as ‘one of the most treacherous stretches of sea in the world’ so I suppose it was rather poetic to have England’s most famous naval officer keep watch over the ships passing up and down this dangerous waterway.
By the time I crossed over the Menai Bridge, it was almost 6 in the evening and I was thoroughly exhausted, I hadn’t slept for more than 30 hours and was ready to go for a snooze in the street. I kept going though and made it back to my flat and my wonderful, soft, comfy, lovely, big, warm, snugly bed. Sleep came easily that night. It was only when I woke up that I discovered the turn off to Bryn Celli Ddu had been five minutes up the road from Plas Newydd, something for another day I suppose.
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