|View of Benllech Bay from our balcony (photos by L L Melton)|
For five days in May, I woke every morning to a view of the Irish Sea, as it shushed in and out on its regular tides.
My daughter and I stayed in Benllech, in Anglesey, Wales (UK). Since we live on the Saskatchewan prairie, right in the middle of Canada, it was a treat to find ourselves in a place where the mountains touch the seashore.
Our apartment was only a 10-minute walk from the beachfront. It didn't take us long to begin exploring this new habitat.
|Wading at the shore (L L Melton)|
On our first day, we pulled off our shoes and socks and walked on the yellow sand. It was a sunny day, with mild temperatures rising to about 12°C.
Benllech retained its Blue Flag status this year, which is a voluntary ecological label used in more than 48 countries around the world. It means that a beach follows a strict set of criteria including water quality, environmental management, safety, and services. In April, the Daily Post had called Benllech one of the 10 best beaches in North Wales.
When we waded on the seashore, the water felt warm and inviting. We noticed no one was actually swimming, though, which surprised us. We still needed our sweaters, even on this warm afternoon, and we noticed some people exploring in jackets.
|Tidal pools in Benllech Beach (L L Melton)|
Farther out on the water, people were enjoying water sports in wet suits. Canoeing, water surfing, and water skiing seemed popular. The water temperature in this part of the Red Wharf Bay averages 10°C (50°F), according to Surf Forecast. It's warmest in August (14-17°C) and coldest in February (5-9°C). Wetsuits are recommended.
Luckily, we waded in late afternoon, when the sun had been warming the shoreline for several hours. Generally, the sea takes longer to heat up than the sand, because the specific heat capacity of water is greater. This was the warmest dip in the sea my toes had ever enjoyed.
We shared the shore with a number of other creatures as well.
|Lugworm casts (L L Melton)|
For example, these strange tracks dotted one section of the sand. My daughter knew what they were, but I'd never seen lugworm casts before. These marine worms are popular bait for fishing, but we didn't see any of the actual worms or anyone digging for them while we were there.
We found treasures like this seashell all along the beach. Although broken shell and even small shards on the sand showed where seagulls and other seabirds had dined, many of the shells were intact.
This shoreline follows a section of the Anglesey Coastal Path starting at the nearby harbour village of Moelfre. The Coastal Path is a well-known walk, and this section leads along a hedged path near limestone cliffs, through wooded areas, and over boardwalks that provide many interesting views.
|Crab (L L Melton)|
We saw several small crabs in the water and on land.
This fellow seemed to have somewhere to go, so we left him undisturbed.
|Treasures from the sea (M E Powell)|
We explored the tidal pools that formed along the way as well, and were often amazed at the conglomerates we discovered.
Here, for example, we found a variety of intact seashells and interesting rocks embedded in the rocky material jutting out in a line from the shore into the sea.
Our days at the beach proved all too short. Although we enjoyed exploring, there was so much left to see and do when our visit came to an end.
By Marie Powell
Marie Powell is a professional writer, and the author of Dragonflies are Amazing (Scholastic). Her six-book series of beginner readers will be published this fall. She stayed at 7 Llys Rhostrefor, Benllech, as a guest of Visit Wales.