Pilgrims have sought love on Llanddwyn Island for millennia. Inspired by the story of Saint Dwynwen, Wales’ patron saint of lovers, some may get down on one knee on Llanddwyn Beach; others may cast their unrequited wishes into her ancient well as lovelorn disciples of Dwynwen have done for centuries.
Who Was Dwynwen?
Supposedly, Dwynwen was the most beautiful of the 5th-century King Brychan’s 24 daughters. However, she was very unlucky when it came to love. In one version, Dwynwen loved a man named Maelon but was betrothed to someone else. As a result, she prayed to God for help in forgetting him, with the result that he was turned into ice. In compensation, Dwynwen was granted three wishes. First, she wished for Maelon to be restored to his previous form. Second, she wished for God to help out true-hearted lovers. Third, she wished that she would never have to get married. Afterwards, Dwynwen became a nun at a convent that she founded on Llanddwyn, thus putting her on the path to becoming a saint.
What Is St. Dwynwen’s Day?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dwynwen became a patron of lovers. For example, a well that bore her name became a place of pilgrimage, which became particularly popular because it was believed that its fish inhabitants could predict whether a romantic relationship would turn out well or not. Similarly, St. Dwynwen’s Day on January 25 has become a very romantic time for the modern Welsh, meaning gifts, outings, and other shows of affection.
St Dwynwen’s Church
The ruin of St Dwynwen’s Church still stands in the centre of Llanddwyn Island. This relatively small church dates from the 16th Century, and all that now remains of it are some fallen rubble and parts of three of its walls, with partially intact stone carved window frames.
Llanddwyn Island is barely an island but at high-tide it is cut off from the mainland by a 200 metre stretch of water and becomes a tidal island. Apart from the glorious view of the mountains and the giant blue sky that meets the gloriously blue sea, Llanddwyn Island present you with wonderful little cove beaches and plenty of decent fishing marks.
You can walk straight along the centre of the Island on a well-constructed path. Or you can take the gentle coastal path that circumnavigates the entire island.
West coast of Anglesey, northwest Wales. The nearest town is Newborough. Post code: LL61 6SG – Please note: Postcode may be approximate for some rural locations.
Follow the ‘Traeth Beach’ sign, the road continues into Newborough Forest. Eventually you reach a coin-operated toll machine – the charge at the time of writing is £5 per vehicle. The car park is about a mile (1.6 km) further on. This is a very short walk from Newborough beach. Llanddwyn Island is off to your right.
The island can be cut off from the tides in exceptional circumstances – just be aware! Llanddwyn Island tide times
Photography © Gurcan Sarisoy