Page images
PDF
EPUB

carriage window, so thickly was the fine dust wafted about by the wind. The contrast which a few miles of travel present in the scenery is, perhaps, better shown in Wales than in any other country. A few minutes back, and we were surrounded by hills, with richly cultivated valleys lying, as it were, in their very bosoms, presenting those beautiful alternations of scenery in which the eye so much delights; and now we are in the midst of swamps filled with rushes, and common-land, whose dreariness is scarcely relieved by heather, or ling, or fern, so ungenial is the rocky or swampy soil; and now we are in the midst of desertsands, where not a single blade of grass can find nourishment for itself. To the stranger, however, this want of natural attraction is somewhat compensated for by the glimpse which he gets of a new kind of life. The train stops at several stations on the way; and if you are so lucky, as we were, to make the journey on Holyhead market-day, you will find a varied collection of men and women waiting to be picked up by the train. At some of the stations scarcely a house was in sight, so that the market folks must have come from scattered farm-houses, probably miles and miles apart. At Ty Croes, Gaerwen, the Valley, and other places, you find the Welsh women wearing the high hats, and their largebordered, closely-quilled caps, which we see in prints. And hale, hearty, clean-looking women they are; strong too; for some of them bore burdens which would bow down most of our town-women. pleasant sight to see them rushing here and there,

It is a

shouting, laughing, chattering in their strange tongue, with all the bustle of busy women on a market-day.

Holyhead is an island; but unless you take particular note when the train crosses a narrow arch which joins it to Anglesey, you will not from actual observation be aware of that geographical fact. It is separated from the large island by a very narrow strip of water; and we dare say that hundreds cross it without being aware when they have passed from the one island to the other. The principal town bears the name of the island, and is now of considerable importance, containing at the last census some 6,000 inhabitants. "It is straggling and irregularly built, but has some good houses. The road from the railway station to the lighthouse is lighted with gas. The parish church is mostly of the perpendicular style, and has been enriched externally with a good deal of rude but curious carving. The churchyard appears to be a portion of an ancient fortification; and is partly surrounded by a very curious and interesting Roman wall. The Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, Independents, and Baptists, have chapels. There are National and British schools, a library, and a savings-bank. The inhabitants are principally employed in the coasting-trade, and in ship-building, and in rope-making. Holyhead is the station of the Dublin mail and steam-packets. The harbour is formed by a pier nine hundred feet in length, constructed chiefly of hewn limestone; and at the pier-head there is, during ordinary tides, a depth of fourteen feet at low water. The pier is a prolongation of an islet

[ocr errors]

ز

which is connected with the island of Holyhead by a swing bridge of cast iron, and by a viaduct for the railway, laid down to convey material to the new harbour works. At the head of the pier is a lighthouse; on the land side is a triumphal arch, of Anglesey marble, erected to commemorate the landing of George IV. in 1821. A wooden jetty is carried into the harbour. Holyhead has been selected by government as the site of a harbour of refuge. The works, when completed, will enclose about 316 acres, with a depth of more than six fathoms of water."

Such is a brief description of the place; but no words can convey a correct idea of the gigantic nature of this breakwater. When we paid our visit, seven years had been spent in its construction, and it was far from being finished. Hundreds and hundreds of tons of rock had been sunk in forming the base of the work. It stretches far into the sea; and it is a noble sight to behold the rough waves dashing themselves to pieces against its walls, lashing them in their fury, pouring all their wild rage upon the impassible and indifferent stone; while all within is as calm as a lake, and the vessels remain at anchor as secure from the rage of the sea which rolls and roars outside, thirsting for its prey, as if they were placed high and dry in dock for repairs. Holyhead would be worth a visit, were it for nothing else than its harbour, its lighthouse, and its breakwater.

About three miles and a half from Holyhead, and situated at the northern extremity of the island, is the object which chiefly caused us to visit the place,

a

the South-Stack Lighthouse. On leaving Holyhead, the best way is to proceed to the new Market Hall; leave this to your left, take the main road, and a most glorious ramble of a few miles awaits you. After passing through the village of Llangorke you have two miles of the most magnificent rambling obtainable in the three kingdoms. On the right hand rise the rocks which form the northern coast of Holyhead, crowned almost to their summits with rich gorse, heather, and ling; fields of purple and gold basking beneath the rich glory of an autumn sun, and covered with the delightful insects which love and haunt such scenes. Brown butterflies, and he, their chief glory and pride, the peacock, at their head, were there in numberless thousands ; busy and buzzing bees were toiling wich joy among the rich honey-giving flowers; now and then a stray sea-bird swept over the hills, pausing for a few moments on some barren rock, which projected, sparkling and white, from amongst the bright colours which adorned its body; or sought some crevice in which to deposit her eggs, two of which, of a light green colour, curiously marked with black spots, we succeeded in bringing away; and as we mounted higher,—for the walk is an ascending one all the way, -we met with a few specimens of the small delicately blue-winged butterfly that frequents such lofty spots, delighting in the rarefied air, and the vigorous breezes. On our left the land was lower than the road, and well cultivated; and there the harvesters were busy reaping, or gathering up the corn into sheafs, or conveying to the barns, or building it into ricks, or weaving the strong and neat covers for its protection. Thus were the brightest works of nature on one hand, and on the other her most useful, with man doing the most attractive, necessary, and at the same time most picturesque, of all his labours. Right before us was

the sea, whence came a welcome breeze, refreshing us with its sweet kisses; for the day was intensely hot, and but for this invigorating wind the walk would have been very fatiguing. As it was, everything was in keeping, and made up a perfect whole of enjoyment and pleasure, upon which it is most delightful to reflect.

When you have walked almost three miles, you come to where two roads meet. Take the one to the right, and for another half-mile there is a fine walk, with the same glorious heather, ling, and gorse on the right as before; but on the left, wild and barren rocks to the sea, and the sea stretching out to the horizon beyond. We must now be close to the South Stack; yet not a glimpse have we had of it yet. Still the road keeps rising, and we keep walking on, but no lighthouse is in sight. We cannot have mistaken our way, for it is too direct for that. We know we must be right; so on and on we go, pausing every now and then to look at the rich scene by which we are surrounded. Absorbed in this pleasant work, and not thinking of the object of our visit, we suddenly reach a point of the rocky coast; and there, on a separate rock below us, is the famous lighthouse: and what a sight to look down upon!

The coast is here extremely wild and rugged: in

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »