Abermenai Point

Looking over Traeth Abermenai towards Abermenai Point (top left at the end of the thin dark strip visible below the mountains - this is the peninsula Braich Abermenai)

Date

19 November 2011
Location

Newborough, Anglesey

SH 44146 61360; 53.12654°N, 4.33073°W

Information

Abermenai point sits at the end of Braich Abermenai, a sand bar extending out into the Menai Strait from the dunes of Newborough Warren. Shortcuts to the point across the flats of Traeth Abermenai are possible when the tide is out, but the Ordnance Survey map warns of the danger of these public rights of way under tidal conditions. The southwestern entrance to the Menai Strait narrows to a channel 350 metres wide between Abermenai Point on the Anglesey side and the tip of the Dinlle peninsula — location of Fort Belan — on the mainland. Abermenai Point was once the location of a Ferry House. With 12th-century literary references (Life of Gruffudd ap Cynan), this route is possibly the earliest documented Menai ferry service.

Abermenai (The Menai Straits 2000 years of history)

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Fort Belan

'1865' cannon. Looking over the Menai Strait to Traeth Abermenai on Anglesey

Date

13 November 2011
Location

Dinlle peninsula

SH 44093 60989; 53.12320°N, 4.33135°W

Information

The southwestern end of the Menai Strait, which separates the Isle of Anglesey from mainland Wales, narrows to a small channel between the end of the Dinlle peninsula and Abermenai Point on Anglesey. With the strait affording access to the North Wales coast and to the port of Liverpool beyond, the strategic importance of the location prompted Thomas Wynn — then Lord Lieutenant of Caernarvonshire and later to become the first Baron of Newborough — to build a fort at the tip of the Dinlle peninsula in 1775.

Originally known as Fort David, Fort Belan, which is now a Grade I listed building, served as a coastal defence battery and garrison for Wynn’s Caernarvonshire Militia. He built the fort because of concerns over coastal security arising from the ongoing American War of Independence, and it is in fact the only fortification expressly built for that purpose on this side of the Atlantic. It also served as a deterrent against American privateers active in the Irish Sea in the 1780s. Its strategic importance again came to the fore during the Napoleonic Wars amidst fears of a French invasion via Ireland. The last military use of the fort was during World War II when it was used as a base for the Home Guard. Throughout its history as a defensive position, however, it never actually saw any active military engagement.

During the 1820s Belan became the Wynn family’s private fort and the buildings were extended and the adjacent dockyard was constructed during this period. The watch tower was built in the 1890s.

The Wynn family sold the fort in 1992 and it became a base for marine biology exploration. The new owners later developed the fort as a holiday accommodation complex offering six self-catering cottages. A short causeway leads up to the fort, which is cut off by the tide twice a day.

Fort Belan (fortbelan.co.uk);
Fort Belan (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales);
Fort Belan (Wikipedia)

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