Epic Welsh Runs – Newborough Forest and Ynys Llanddwyn

Starting Point: Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest Car Park, just beyond the small village of Niwbwrch. LL61 6SG

Parking: Ample parking but can get busy at peak times. £2.00 for first 2 hours then 40 p for every additional 20 minutes.

Type: Circular

Length: Commonwealth Trail – 8.5 miles (follow red signposts)

Elevation Gain: 433 feet

Terrain: Trails, sand and short section on tarmac. Trainers ok if it has been dry. Trail shoes probably better if wet.

Facilities on Route: Toilets at car park.

The famous cross on Ynys Llanddwyn

This is a route that we had been eyeing up for a long time and therefore when holidaying in Anglesey it was on the top of our list. It is around a half hour drive from Bangor and 20 minutes from Llanfairpwll where we were staying.

Newborough Warren and Ynys Llanddwyn was declared the first coastal National Nature Reserve in Wales in 1955. According to Natural Resources Wales the Corsican pine trees that make up Newborough Forest were planted between 1947 and 1965 to provide timber and to stabilise the shifting sand dunes. It has created a quite unique landscape with tall trees forming a dramatic backdrop to the rugged coast.

The site sits within the Anglesey Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Traeth Llanddwyn is one of the most picturesque beaches in Wales. It truly is stunning. Llanddwyn Island juts out into the sea and includes two prominent large crosses, a whitewashed terrace of cottages and lighthouse which you will no doubt recognise. The name Llanddwyn means “The church of St. Dwynwen”. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, making her the Welsh equivalent of St. Valentine. The island bears the ruined remains of St Dwynwen’s Church.

Newborough Forest was the location for the Commonwealth Ultra Trail Running Championships in 2011. This was a 55km race that consisted of a numerous loops around Newborough Forest and Ynys Llanddwyn. Interestingly Wales’ men finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in this race courtesy of Richard Gardiner, Andrew Davies and Nathaniel Lane. The winning time was 3 hours 29 minutes.

Natural Resources Wales who manage the site has handily marked out the Commonwealth loop on timber posts with red logos. The directional signs are frequent and well placed which means you can just switch off without having to think about the route. The only place we lost the signs was in the last 500m or so where they seemed to disappear but we were so close to the beach and starting point it wasn’t an issue.

Beach section on the way to Ynys Llanddwyn

The route starts with a loop of the picturesque Ynys Llanddwyn which means a couple of miles on soft sand which can be energy sapping. However it’s worth it for the scenery and views that await you on the island. If you don’t fancy this loop or if it’s cut off by the tide it can be omitted which probably cuts the run down to around 6 miles – this alternative route is well signposted.

Run back from Llanddwyn

Once back on the mainland you run within the dunes and woodland of Newborough Forest. It is a mix of undulating sandy, gravelly and muddy (but firm) trails and some grassy areas so a real mix of terrain which is quite nice if you are used to road running. At around 5 miles it starts to get pretty undulating but it’s not too bad really and the hills are quite short and sharp. We encountered a diversion on route but again this was very well signposted and rejoined the main trail after a couple of minutes.

Uphill forest section

This was an epic run that had just about everything you want in a run (including a sighting of the rare red squirrel!). We went early (7am) and had the place to ourselves which was nice. The run is tough but not too challenging and we managed to keep the pace at sub 8 minute miles for a pretty leisurely run. The best part is the first 4 miles onto Llanddwyn so you could just do this if you want a shorter run. Also the Newborough Forest 5km parkrun route is also brilliantly signposted so this is another option.

Ynys Llanddwyn and its famous cross and lighthouse

Would definitely recommend if you are in the area. Strava link below.

Strava Route.

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