The 'idyllic' island beach named among best in the UK a drive from Greater Manchester

Llanddwyn Island , Anglesey
Llanddwyn Island , Anglesey -Credit:Getty Images

With summer just around the corner, trips to the beach are very much on the cards. From wild coastal spots to old-fashioned seaside resorts, there’s no shortage of locations to choose from when planning a getaway to the sea.

If you’re looking for a beach that’s a bit different from your usual seaside destinations, then we may have just the one for you. It’s located on an island, associated with a romantic legend and it has breathtaking views of distant mountains.

While it may sound like somewhere you’d find in an isolated Scottish island, it is in fact less than a three hour drive from Greater Manchester. The beach in question is Llanddwyn, on the isle of Anglesey in North Wales.

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It’s a place that’s come under the spotlight recently as it was named by Conde Nast in its list of The Best Beaches in the UK. The travel publication praised Anglesey for its “stunningly beautiful beaches” and praised Llanddwyn in particular.

Twr Mawr Lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island
Twr Mawr Lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island -Credit:Ian Cooper/Daily Post Wales

Referencing the Prince and Princess of Wales’ time on the island as young married couple, Conde Nast said: “On tiny Llanddwyn Island, the three-mile-long beach is known as the 'Beach of Romance', thanks not to Kate and Wills but to another princess, Dwynwen, who long ago ran away to Llanddwyn after a love affair went awry and became Wales's own St Valentine, patron saint of lovers.”

Llanddwyn isn’t actually an island, but a strip of land that stretches out from Anglesey, curving along one side of the beach. It only becomes an island during the highest of high tides. Standing at the end of this spit of land is the historic lighthouse Tŵr Mawr (which means big tower), built in 1845.

There are steps which lead you up to the lighthouse, and, although it’s not accessible, it’s a scenic spot and one of the most iconic landmarks along the North Wales coast. There’s a second smaller lighthouse which was built first, Tŵr Bach, and now has a modern lamp fitted. Both of these lighthouses overlook their own tiny beaches.

The ruin of St Dwynwen's chapel
The ruin of St Dwynwen's chapel -Credit:Getty Images

What makes Llanddwyn so special is its associations with St Dwynwen, who retreated there in the 5th century after romantic troubles. According to legend she was granted three wishes, and one was that all lovers’ dreams would be fulfilled.

Dwynwen became the patron saint of lovers and pilgrims would visit her well on the island. A chapel was built in the 16th century on the remains of Dwynwen’s original chapel, funded by the wealth generated by pilgrims during the Tudor era. The ruins of it can still be seen today.

Llanddwyn beach itself is a beautiful sandy three-mile stretch, backed by the pine trees of the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve. Dotted along the beach are rocky outcrops, which are known as ‘pillow lava rocks’ formed hundreds of thousands of years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions.

The beach is backed by Newborough Forest
The beach is backed by Newborough Forest -Credit:Ian Cooper/Daily Post Wales

The views at Llanddwyn are pretty incredible, too, with distant mountains visible on the horizon. The beach has received heaps of praise on Tripadvisor, with reviewers describing it as “idyllic” and “beautiful.”

One user wrote: “The beach itself is just gorgeous - pristine sands with clear waters with the forest backdrop - you can walk all the way around to the tidal island which is well worth exploring too. A visit here is highly recommended for a really good day out.” Another added: “Idyllic surroundings, off the beaten track and absolutely worth the time and effort.”

What you need to know

There are dog restrictions on the beach from May 1 to September 30. There are limited facilities so make sure you bring a picnic with you. The best parking for Llanddwyn is at the Beach, Airman’s and Cwningar car parks. They use number plate recognition cameras and parking costs £2 for the first two hours, and then 40p for every additional 20 minutes. There is a maximum charge of £7 per day.

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