My next stop was Cemlyn Bay on the north side of the island; I'd only previously been there twice and hadn't stayed long on either occasion as there's nothing there other than a wildlife lagoon, but another post on Ruth's blog had prompted me to consider having a look at the far end of the bay. From the car park the stony shingle beach to the west was backed by the lagoon for most of its length; the top of the beach, where it was easiest to walk, had been roped off to protect various nesting birds so I had to walk further down where the deep shingle and shifting stones made the going quite hard.
At the end of the beach the outflow from the lagoon formed a short river which cut through the deep shingle and joined the sea; a flat ground level concrete bridge with no handrails spanned the river and on the other side on the right was a rocky promontory with what looked like a couple of derelict cottages surrounded by an overgrown garden and a high stone wall. There was another, much higher, wall on the left - a long, ugly, white-turning-to-grey concrete and brick monstrosity partly built into the back of the lagoon; whatever was behind it was certainly hidden from view.
At the far end of the bridge a sandy slope took me up onto a lane and a rough-surfaced parking area; intrigued by the old cottages I tried to find a way in but the stone wall went most of the way round and there was no way I could climb it. I did however find a gap of a few feet where the wall had fallen down; three strands of barbed wire were fastened across the gap but there was enough 'give' in the middle strand for me and the dogs to get through, and judging by the track worn through the long grass I wasn't the first person to do that.
The main cottage was covered in so much ivy and other foliage that I had absolutely no chance of actually getting inside, and the other two cottages were just completely derelict shells, but at least I'd satisfied my curiosity and with just a couple of snaps taken I fought my way back through the jungle and out through the barbed wire. On the rocks behind the cottages I got a couple of snaps of the bay then made my way across the bridge and headed back to the van.
This time I managed to walk as close to the top of the beach as I could so I could get some shots looking over the lagoon, but other than a few seagulls on the water I couldn't see any birds in evidence anywhere. By then it was 6.30pm and the late afternoon sun was starting to take on its early evening glow; I'd seen everything I wanted to see so it was time to be heading back to base.
Finally back at the site I made myself a brew and settled in for the rest of the evening. It had been a good day in more ways than one - I'd spruced up Tyger's memorial stone, had one of Pete's delicious cheeseburgers, seen somewhere new and got lots of photos so now it was time to relax for a while.
**Since getting back home I've found out the ugly high wall at the end of the lagoon actually surrounds the house and gardens originally belonging to Captain Vivian Hewitt, the aviation pioneer. In 1912, at the age of 24, Captain Hewitt achieved the feat of flying 75 miles from Rhyl across the Irish Sea to Ireland, the first man ever to do so. He landed in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and his achievement was celebrated both in Ireland and in Rhyl, but the sinking of the Titanic less than two weeks previously overshadowed his success and his flight probably didn't get the recognition it deserved.
After WW1 Captain Hewitt gave up flying and went to live at Bryn Aber, the house at Cemlyn where he established the lagoon and its surrounding land as a bird sanctuary. The now derelict cottages were part of his estate which was left to his housekeeper and her two sons when he died in 1965 at the age of 77. In 1971 the lagoon and surrounding land were bought by the National Trust who now manage it jointly with the North Wales Wildlife Trust.