Designed by Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, the Menai (pronounced Men-eye) suspension bridge connects the island of Anglesey to mainland North Wales at the narrowest point of the treacherous and fast-flowing Menai Straits. Construction started in 1819 and ended in early 1826, with the bridge being officially opened on January 30th that year. With a limestone tower on each side of the straits, and held up by sixteen huge wrought iron chain cables, the 579ft long deck was suspended high enough to give 100ft of clear space below it to allow tall-masted ships to sail underneath, and at that time it was the biggest suspension bridge in the world.
With the steady increase in traffic flow over the years the bridge has undergone several improvements in its time, including strengthening and road resurfacing, and in 2005 it underwent its first major re-painting in 65 years. The Anglesey Coastal Path passes below the bridge and on a clear sunny day, if you walk across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway you can really appreciate the views and get some great photos.
The old town of Menai Bridge on Anglesey lies alongside the straits, with newer properties and developments covering the hillside behind. The high street offers a variety of different shops and services and just out of the town centre, not far from the bridge, is a Waitrose supermarket with a Shell petrol station just down the road. Close to the bridge and down a hill is the Belgian Promenade which runs along a sheltered corner of the straits and has a causeway linking it to Church Island with its ancient church of St. Tysilio - walk up to the top of the cemetery and you get some great views of the straits and the bridge.
Head out of town towards Beaumaris and you'll find Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens - when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom the terraces and pathways are a riot of beautiful colour. For those who like fishing Llyn Y Gors fishing lakes can be found in the countryside above and just out of the town; with seven lakes, a small 12-pitch caravan and camp site and a handful of self-catering holiday cottages it makes a great place for a chill-out break.
So there you have it - a brief insight into Menai Bridge, and if you ever go there do take a walk across the bridge itself; it's worth it. Photos taken of the area and from the bridge itself can be found in my post from July 9th 2011.