Words: Julie Brominicks
Image: Wojciech Rozanski
With some steep sections, the path is rough, but generally not too taxing. There are no buses to South Stack, so if using public transport, walk two miles along the coast path from Holyhead to North Stack and start and finish your walk here.
1) Begin in Elin’s Tower car park and head across heath to the coast path and cliffs. Look out for peregrines. Pass Elin’s Tower, a summerhouse built by the Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey for his wife, in 1868.
2) Descend 400 steps towards South Stack Lighthouse, open to visitors in summer. Now automated, before the bridge was built the lighthouse-keeper’s provisions were swung in by basket and pulley. Look out for rock pipits and peregrines on the cliffs, and for divers and seals in the sea.
3) Follow the coastpath signs towards Holyhead Mountain, passing reed-fringed pools, radio masts and a shelter-belt of conifers used by migrants. Watch white water stretching from South Stack, where gannets and porpoises sometimes feed on the tidal races. Ignore the summit path, unless you fancy a quick ascent.
4) Your path bends towards North Stack with sheltered Gogarth Bay below. Look out for gannets patrolling the water like gliders, and keep watch for divers and skuas.
5) Descend to North Stack. The foghorn station is redundant and is now a private house. Look back across Gogarth Bay for divers blown off course, and Atlantic Grey Seals.
6) Retrace your steps up North Stack, ignoring the coast path – instead, take the higher route that joins the chough path. Below you are steps once used by donkeys carrying provisions to the foghorn station, and a domed building where gunpowder was stored to power the foghorn. Rounding the mountain, you’ll see Holyhead Breakwater - in the 19th century, seven million tons of stone were excavated from nearby quarries to build it. Look out for ravens.
7) Above you on the summit is Caer Twr, the Iron Age fort that was occupied by the Romans, its walls almost indistinguishable from the mountain itself. As you pass beneath, look for stonechats, linnets, rock and meadow pipits, choughs and the short-eared owl.
Below the path are several prehistoric hut circles, which are well worth a visit at the end of your walk.
8) Finish with coffee and cake at the RSPB Visitor Centre before heading back to the carpark.
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