Linking up to Jo’s Monday Walk this week, this is a walk I’ve done twice in the last couple of years. One of my favourite places for camping is Anglesey – I’ve been there two or three times a year almost every year since 1997 – and this particular section of the Anglesey Coastal Path features the White Arch and a memorial stone to brave Tyger. I’d previously found the story of Tyger in a book about Anglesey; it said that in 1819 a Liverpool-bound ketch, sailing through a thick mist, struck the rocks off the coast near Rhoscolyn and sank. Only Tyger, the captain’s retriever, seemed to sense the direction of the shore and with the ship’s boy clinging to his collar he swam half a mile to safety then swam back to aid the captain and the other two crewmen. Thanks to Tyger they all reached the shore, but Tyger himself was so exhausted by the ordeal that he died on the beach in his master’s arms. The courageous dog was buried on the nearby cliff top and a memorial stone placed on his grave. I thought it was such a lovely but sad story that I wanted to seek out Tyger’s memorial and see it for myself.
My walk started at the small car park just behind the main beach at Rhoscolyn, and a footpath from there joined the Anglesey Coastal Path and skirted the northern end of the beach, taking me past two smaller back-to-back beaches and through a small hamlet of houses before hitting open fields and grassland. Across the first field the land rose sharply ahead of me with ‘steps’ up the hill cut into the earth; when I got to the top I could see the coastguard lookout station ahead of me and when I turned round I was rewarded with a good view of Rhoscolyn beach, the hamlet I’d just come through, and Rhosneiger in the distance, with the Snowdonia mountains in the background.
From the coastguard lookout I got a lovely view of Seagull’s Islands and the Rhoscolyn beacon; the terrain went downhill again from there and a bit further on I came to the ancient St. Gwenfaen’s Well. A nearby drystone wall went up over the next hill and the path followed it closely for quite a distance, with the terrain and the coastline becoming more rocky as I went along. Down the other side and ahead of me was Pink Bay, so called because of the pink colour of some parts of the cliff face, and the path skirted round this cove and over another short incline before crossing more open and less rocky land.
Information I’d been given told me that the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial were in close proximity to each other and once I got past Pink Bay I wouldn’t be far from either of them, though I would have to look for Tyger’s stone as it wasn’t immediately obvious. I walked on a bit further then ahead of me and to the right, a distance away from the path, I saw a long line of stones, possibly the ground level remains of a wall, crossing the open land; other large stones and boulders were dotted about here and there but the shape of a certain one caught my eye so I went over to take a look. And that was the one I was searching for – Tyger’s memorial. With no indication anywhere that it was there, anyone not knowing Tyger’s story would quite easily continue along the designated path without ever seeing it.
A large slab of stone with a flat surface, it had been turned on its end and sunk into the ground. It was less than 3ft tall and had a simple inscription chiselled into its surface, though there was no indication as to who Tyger was or why the stone was there. Situated where it was, close to many others of the same kind, it was a very ordinary piece of stone but it signified so much. From there I made my way over to the cliff edge and I didn’t need to walk far before I found the White Arch, and though a big part of it was in shade it was still worth taking a few photos. I even met a couple of friends in the form of two white goats which were wandering along the cliff top.
When I’d taken all the photos I wanted I went back to spend a few minutes at Tyger’s memorial; sitting on the grass in the warm sunshine with my own two dogs at my feet, I thought about Tyger and the reason why the memorial was there. Growing about twenty yards away were several large patches of wild flowers so before I left I went across and picked a small posy then laid it in front of the stone in memory of a very brave dog who gave his life to help his master and crew.
I didn’t know how far it was from the beach car park to Tyger’s memorial – and I still don’t in spite of trying to find out from several different sources – but I guessed it to be about two miles, although because of the undulating terrain and meandering path it seemed to be longer than that. So it was another two miles or so back to the van but in the sunshine it was a very pleasant walk and anyway the distance didn’t really matter – I’d found Tyger’s memorial and I’d got some good photos so I was more than happy.