This is a walk round the fascinating and unusual landscape of an old copper mine, which I did a couple of years ago while on my regular summer camping holiday on Anglesey. I’d driven past part of Parys mountain a few years previously and thought at the time that it looked like a huge ugly blot on the country landscape, but after reading a photography book about Anglesey and seeing a photo of an old windmill somewhere up on the mountain I was now on a quest to find that windmill and take my own photo of it.
My walk started at a rough-surfaced and rather pot-holed car park just off the road, and a short distance from there a wide footpath went both left and right. I’d seen the windmill in the distance as I drove up the road but once I reached the car park it was out of sight, so not knowing exactly whereabouts on the mountain it was I decided to take the left hand path and work my way round in a clockwise direction. After a couple of minutes I left the main path and took a narrower one winding up and round the mountain through a rough terrain of grass, rocks and loose stones, and as I climbed I was glad I was wearing my trainers – anything less on ground such as that just wouldn’t be sensible. Eventually the old windmill came into view and the path widened out again – another few minutes and I was at the highest point of the mountain.
The Summit Windmill was built in 1878 in the hope of reducing pumping costs for the ever-deepening mine shafts, and it was unique on Anglesey in that it had five sails; in later years it was connected by a system of flat rods to a steam engine at the head of a 270ft shaft nearby. I was quite surprised to find that the inside of the windmill was accessible on two levels and though there was nothing to see in there the view from outside was good – I could see for miles across the Anglesey countryside, with the Menai Straits and Snowdonia mountains in one direction and Amlwch and Point Lynas lighthouse in the far distance in front of me.
Continuing in a clockwise direction I wound my way gradually round and down the mountain; there were many paths going in various directions and they all offered the chance to explore the mountain at length but it was very late in the afternoon by then so I didn’t want to stay up there too long. It was hard not to linger though; with such a fascinating landscape and diverse range of rich colours there were photo opportunities everywhere I looked and the camera was getting some serious use.
As I got further round the mountain I came to the huge open cast area which, in the late 18th century, was deemed to be the largest copper mine in the world. It was a very barren area and it reminded me very much of a strange and rather desolate lunar landscape or maybe somewhere from Lord Of The Rings, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to see Dr. Who’s Tardis landing somewhere nearby.
Further round from the open cast section I came across a large lake and several smaller lakes and ponds; the water in the large lake seemed to be very clear but that in the smaller lakes bore testament to the zinc-and-copper-rich landscape in which they lay. Hawthorn bushes and clumps of buttercups and other wild flowers were dotted here and there, so with much more greenery around the area it didn’t look quite as desolate as the open cast section and it was hard to believe that all this was halfway up a mountain.
From the lakes the footpath was wide and straight and with the final few photos taken I continued my downward route, eventually arriving back at the car park. Distance-wise I hadn’t really walked that far, maybe just a mile or so, but this walk wasn’t about the distance it was about what I’d seen. I had to admit that I’d been surprised and somewhat amazed by Parys Mountain; it was far from being the blot on the countryside I’d previously thought it to be and in its own way, with its unusual landscape and diverse range of colours, it was strangely beautiful. I knew I hadn’t explored as much of it as I could have done so it would certainly be one place I would return to in the future.
Linking this with Jo’s Monday Walk where she’s still in Florence – do pop over and join her for a walk round some fascinating gardens with some fabulous views.