I thought Beaumaris Castle was the most beautiful of the three castles I saw. The castle takes its name from the 'beau mareys', or 'beautiful marsh' in which it's built. They built a lake around it, and there is an inlet connected to the sea. Supply boats from England could sail right up to the castle and deliver their supplies without ever touching the sands of Wales, a thought which I'm sure was as much comfort to the Welsh as to the English. To ensure that the boats were protected, there is a wall, called Gunners Walk, which overlooks the inlet. From there, gunners with cannon could protect the boats.
Even today, the castle is impressive, with its grey stone towers rising out of the still water. Inside, there is an outer wall surrounding the courtyard, and then an inner fort. I walked all around the outer circle of the castle, stopping to spend some time at each of the 16 towers and to look out at the water beyond the wall. At the back of the castle, I discovered a gate which led to the water. Here, I thought, someone living in the castle might have been able to slip away for a few moments of peace, or perhaps even slip away more permanently if they had a boat waiting.
As I finished my tour I saw that the castle has become a picnic spot for the locals, and many of them were in the courtyard just relaxing. One of them told me that the castle was started in 1295, the last of Edward's great strongholds.
Having finished my outer tour of the castle, I went for a walk around the inner wall. The wall itself is filled with passages, so that I walked most of the way around the castle without ever coming out into the daylight. When I did enter the inner courtyard, I saw that a king could have lived comfortably here. There is plenty of space, and none of the claustrophobic feeling of some castles. None of the old buildings remain, but I could imagine a king and his entire entourage living well here, with fresh meat on the fire, and entertainment every night.
At the north end of the inner courtyard is a massive stone building which, I was told, was originally to have been a great gatehouse, but it was never completed. The design is based on the great gatehouse at Harlech, but the one at Beaumaris was to be twice the size. The gate leads to the gate I had found in the outer wall, which is called the LLanfaes gate. I wondered if the original plan had called for another bridge from the castle.
Though the castle was never completed, it was a wonderful place to explore. As I was leaving, I saw a swan with her cygnets, five or six of them, very small and fluffy. Some were swimming, while some sat with mama on what looked to be part of another ruined building or courtyard, a flat grey paving stone in the midst of the lake. Though the ships come no more to Beaumaris, it was nice to see that the docks are still being used to this very day.
Come again after you've explored some more of Esmerel, and I'll tell you tales of some of the ancient mysteries of Anglesey.
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