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Breakwater Country Park (Wales)

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Created in an old quarry at the base of Holyhead Mountain, the Breakwater Country Park provides an excellent centre for coastal walks

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      22.10.2009 20:18
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      I cannot recommend this highly enough. Visit if you're in the area.

      The Isle of Anglesey, located off the northwest tip of the Welsh mainland is an island of contrasts. The landscape is rugged, untamed in parts, and stunningly beautiful. Despite this, parts of the island have an industrial aspect (such as at Wylfa nuclear power station) with hundreds of years of history of men working the land. At Breakwater Country Park, however, the stark beauty of the coastline has been sensitively merged with the area's industrial past to create a wonderful resource for nature, locals and tourists alike. The park is about five minutes drive from Holyhead and is signposted from the main road that runs past Holyhead harbour (follow the brown tourist signs). A reasonably sized free car park sits next to the visitor centre. The car park has disabled parking spaces and the café has toilets and a RADAR key accessed disable toilet. The area was previously used as a quarry; the extraction of millions of tonnes of quartz used to create the Holyhead breakwater created a huge gaping hole in the side of the mountain. Today, with restoration sympathetic to the area's previous use, the disused quarry has been transformed. Traces of the quarry's history can still be seen today. A tall tower, used for brick making remains as a mute reminder of its past, whilst the quarrymen's hut is now used to house the visitor centre and cafe. The small lake adjacent to the visitor centre has a widened track to accommodate wheelchairs and the local ducks appreciate being fed with the visitors' leftover sandwiches or bread taken just for them. Interpretation boards chronicle the park's industrial history and showcase the wildlife that can be now seen. Apart from the remaining buildings, there is little evidence that men once toiled for hours on end, creating vast clouds of choking dust and fumes, to extract building materials from the mountain side and it's hard to imagine the site ever being busy and noisy. Nowadays, the park is calm and peaceful, and the once bare rock simply covered with rare and beautiful flowers and shrubs. In summer, everywhere one looks there are vibrant colours and dazzling combinations of flowers. Brilliant yellow gorse smelling of coconut, thrift, red campion and even the gorgeous little bee orchid can be seen; a blaze of colour against the azure blue of the Irish Sea. The wildlife which must have deserted the area for 100 years has returned with a vengeance. Following the mile long trail, the visitor will encounter rare birds such as choughs and peregrine falcons flying overhead, and spot seals gazing curiously back at them just offshore. The very rare silver studded blue butterfly makes its home here, as does the venomous adder. With luck, harbour porpoises and bottle-nosed dolphins can also be seen. This is a simply lovely place to spend a summer's day. The trail winds through the gorgeous Anglesey countryside and the spectacular coast. The rocky shore means that the sound of waves crashing against the rocks can often be heard and salt spray scented in the air. As you progress along the trail, you will notice the beautiful mosaics created by local schoolchildren and placed at intervals along the walk. Even though there is a café, this is an excellent spot for a picnic. Find a secluded spot near the rocky shore amongst the gorse and rest, eat your own food and listen to the restless sea; totally peaceful and relaxing, I can really recommend it as a way of washing one's cares away. The more popular South Stack RSPB reserve nearby acts as a magnet to visitors, meaning that Breakwater Country Park is often very quiet by comparison. During a morning's walk, the visitor may have only the birds and seals for company and it can be hard to imagine that the bustling town of Holyhead is only five minutes away. Breakwater Country Park is a stunning, award winning example of what can be created from an old industrial site. The beauty of the park, its excellent facilities and proximity to Holyhead make this a must see place for anyone visiting Anglesey during the summer. Wouldn't it be great if all old industrial sites could be transformed in this way?

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