Since the time of Elizabeth I, the road running from London to Holyhead has been a vital strategic route, linking England, Wales and the sea route to Ireland.
Approaching Holyhead from the sea, your first image is of towering sea cliffs rearing above the waves. Natural beauty abounds on the island of Anglesey, the northernmost part of Wales. Angelsey has a long and turbulent history, it was the last stronghold of Druids resisting the Roman invasion, and it was the last refuge of the Welsh princes who resisted English conquest and dominion.
Today the city of Holyhead is connected to the large Welsh island of Anglesey by a causeway known locally as The Cobb, but until the mid-19th century, it was on its own separate Holy Island connected by a bridge. Its protected harbor and location adjacent to the Irish Sea made it an important port from Roman times. Its beautiful St. Cybi’s Church is in fact situated in the remains of a Roman three-walled fort, the Caer Gybi, facing the harbor. The harbor’s three-kilometer breakwater is the longest in the United Kingdom, and made the port a crucial safe haven in inclement weather for ships plying the busy routes to industrial Liverpool and Lancashire. Until the completion of the London to Liverpool railway, Holyhead held the Royal Mail contract for Dublin. Your ship docks today at a jetty that originally served a lucrative aluminum smelting operation, until the closing of a nuclear generating facility cut of the supply of inexpensive power. A waterfront Maritime Museum provides insights into Holyhead’s long history as a seaport. Visitors are welcomed at the picturesque South Stack Lighthouse, and at the adjacent RSPB nature reserve, which offers views of the sea cliffs and their abundant nesting populations of puffins, fulmars, razorbills, guillemots, gannets and other seabirds, as well as seals, dolphins and other wildlife. The Anglesey countryside also holds prehistoric dolmens including the Trefignath Burial Chamber, and a nostalgic old Welsh farmstead called Cyfellion Swtan that charmingly preserves the traditional lifestyle or rural Wales.
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