Porth Wen Brickworks – Industrial Heritage on Anglesey

Although we’ve lived in North Wales for about 3 and a half years now, there’s still so much we haven’t seen, even just on Anglesey. As with most things, we have fallen into routines and habits that see us returning to the same locations weekend after weekend and not venturing off to see new things. For Pete’s birthday back in February we decided to buck that trend and set off to visit the Old Porth Wen Brickworks on the north coast of Anglesey between Cemaes Bay and Amlwch. 

It isn’t the easiest place to get to and I had to do some Google Map based research before I was confident we’d be able to find it. There’s no real parking, so going on a less than glorious day in mid-February worked in our favour as we could park next to the gateway to the footpath where there’s pretty much only space for one car (or two if you’re happy to be cheeky and completely block the gateway). From the ‘parking’ there is a marked footpath which leads towards the coast, as the footpath meets the Anglesey Coastal Path there is a fairly well worn but unofficial path that diverges off down towards the Brickworks. The route is quite steep and narrow and winds between rocks and dense gorse cover, you need to watch your step and I imagine at busy times of year there might be some awkward squeezing past strangers situations to deal with.

The Brickwork buildings were constructed around the turn of the 20th Century but the site had ceased operations by the beginning of the First World War. Many of the buildings are in ruins, but two large chimneys, the domed kilns and lots of old industrial parts remain. The kilns are striking and a big part of the site’s appeal – it appears that people make use of them for wild camping, although sadly many seem to lack any respect for the site and there are large volumes of litter and camping detritus in certain areas.

Our first view of the site and the bay beyond

One of the kilns
I thought this looked like a steampunk space capsule that had crashlanded

It was such a peaceful and still place (other than the wind) when we were there and I think it would be very different and less enjoyable to visit at a busier time of year and have to share it with other people. That might just be the misanthrope/introvert in me though. I don’t expect you’ve ever played the old computer games Myst or Riven but this place reminded me so much of them, like there was some hidden mystery to be discovered and solved. It was quite surreal really and hard to imagine what it must have been like when it was a hive of industry.

We had a bit of a snack picnic in a little cove in the cliff wall and Alf enjoyed exploring and finding all the little nooks and cranies. Pete couldn’t resist the opportunity to skim a few stones either.

I can definitly see the appeal of camping here, but it saddens me that some poeple are so thoughtless that they think it’s ok to enjoy a place but spoil it for others (and the wildlife) by leaving their rubbish behind – I’d maybe even like to go back with some big bin bags and do a clear up to try and discourage others from making such a mess in future.

I love the Anglesey coast and feel very lucky to live here and be able to enjoy it all year round, often being completely alone in such beautiful and interesting places.

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