Anglesey Saints Way

N Wales, 4 day, 5 day, Folklore, Prehistoric

Anglesey Saints Way (Seiriol & Cybi) – 70km, 44 miles, 4-5 days.

Walk an ancient path of friendship. St Cybi and St Seiriol were both great saints, but even saints need friends. They had both set up monastic communities in Holyhead and Penmon, on the westernmost and easternmost tips of the Isle of Anglesey, but they liked to meet each other every day in the middle, at the holy wells of Clorach. Because of the differing directions that each walked, Cybi faced the rising sun in the morning and became Cybi ‘the Tanned’, and Seiriol ‘the Fair’ had the weaker evening sun on his face. A resonant story for a modern pilgrimage route.

Starting at Penmon Priory, you explore the ancient monastic site – its mysteriously grand dovecote and the hermit cell of Seiriol next to his holy well, a place of palpable holiness. From there, you follow the shoreline of the Menai Strait before turning inland to the 11th-century motte and bailey, Castell Aberlleiniog, before pausing in silence in the medieval church of Llaniestyn with its ancient carved font and engraved wallstone. After ascending the brow of this peninsula you look back to Puffin Island from the hill fort of Bwrdd Arthur before heading down to the peninsula’s northern shoreline of Red Wharf Bay and its Church of St. Dona. Enjoy a relaxing drink at the Ship Inn before heading inland on a ley line of prehistory, touching upon a straight alignment of a few burial chambers, the holy well of Ffynnon Allgo in a caravan park, and the miraculously well-preserved druidic village of Din Lligwy and nearby medieval chapel of Lligwy that lies with a bronze-age burial ground with views over Lligwy Bay.

From Lligwy, you head inland up a river valley towards the towering mountainous landform of Mynydd Bodafon with its 360 panorama over the entire Isle of Anglesey. After the dramatic descent, and past another medieval church and standing stone, eventually you reach the centrepoint of Ffynnon Cybi, or the Clorach Well, where Cybi and Seiriol met in the middle. Spend a moment here and offer your companion, if you walking with one, a sign of friendship. Then drink ale in the village of Llanerchymedd. Passing through a landscape of rolling agriculture your next significant sacred place is the burial chamber of Presaddfed, 6000 years old, and the possible resting place of Rhiannon. Soon you meet the ‘Friendless’ Church of Llanfigael, although it feels friendly and well-loved, and a rare example of an intact Georgian church.

You are close to Holyhead now, and follow the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path round towards Holyhead, crossing over to Holy Island via a bridge before reaching the viewpoint of Gorsedd-y-penrhyn. Before you know it, you reach St Cybi’s church, Holyhead, and feel immediately its ancient monastic significance within the 4th-century Roman fort walls, part of the reason Cybi built his community there. The earliest text about Cybi, a 13th-century Life, says that he journeyed from Cornwall in the 6th century to spread the Word. Cybi therefore made pilgrimage to Anglesey in the first place, but even after such a great journey he continued his walking each day to meet his friend Seiriol, and you can now walk in their footsteps in whichever direction you choose.

And if you want a ‘Finisterre’ (End of the World) experience, then head up Holyhead mountain, to the most sacred site in all of Europe for the ancient druids, and feel the end of your journey as you approach the end of the world.

Official Llan project website

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