Follow the Sun
Back and forth they scurry, carrying cool bags and kayaks, dragging dinghies and deckchairs. Worker ants in wetsuits recreating living rooms from Macclesfield to Morley at the high-tide mark. They bring portable fridges and speakers. I half expect to see a nest of tables, or maybe a reading lamp.
Trearddur Bay is a gently shelving strip of golden sand where the tide sometimes uncovers the roots of prehistoric trees. There are ancient bones in the dunes where my Nan played and the foundations of hut circles at nearby Porth Dafarch.
Campervans zip past the Bronze Age standing stones of Penrhos Fielw unaware of their kinship with ancestors who also chased the sun god west. Dome tents replace roundhouses and barbecues are preferred to fireside broths of frog, eel, and fish, but ancient and modern, all follow the sun.
We quit the beach after swimming and our patch of sand is immediately claimed in a swift operation that would make Royal Marines proud.
I often came here as a child and once had family here. I’m selfishly sorry to see Pieces of Eight has become a second home. I spent hours in there as a boy, infuriating my mother, while I rummaged through shells and pebbles and birthstones and shark’s teeth and kites and models of ships and rubbery brontosauruses and triceratops. The nearby Sea Shanty survives and thrives. I remember it as a timber shack in the 1980s where divers trailed wet footprints across the wooden boards and scoffed fry-ups, washing them down with milky coffee. The Shanty now has a restaurant, a beach-facing bar and a counter mobbed with demand for cappuccinos and honeycomb ice-cream.
We’re staying at Four Mile Bridge, a stone crossing that was the only way of getting to Holyhead and the Irish ferry for centuries before Thomas Telford built the A5 embankment. Many famous people would’ve made this journey, among them a frustrated Jonathan Swift. The writer of Gulliver’s Travels was stuck here for days, bad weather preventing his crossing to Dublin. Lo, here I sit at Holyhead/With muddy ale and mouldy bread, he wrote. We cross to the Anglesey side of this narrow stretch of water. It is so peaceful now we’ve left the crowds and beaches behind and a side of Anglesey many won’t see. Insects buzz and a golden sunset frames Holyhead Mountain. Geese take flight as we climb through gorse and tread cautiously on slippery duckboards crossing the saltmarsh. A path has been marked out by pebbles through a gravelly beach, winding past two abandoned boats, forever held by sucking mud and rusting anchor. It is almost silent as the path narrows. There’s a drift of woodsmoke, but a lone swimmer and a distant paddleboarder are the only trace of human activity. We follow a random track through woodland and a sideroad to emerge by chance at a house called Fron Haul. It once belonged to my great grandmother. Haul is Welsh for sun. Follow the sun.