Aberlleiniog Castle: Anglesey’s Hidden Norman Fortress

Aberlleiniog Castle

Nestled within the woodland that runs from Llangoed to Lleiniog Beach is Aberlleiniog Castle. This hidden gem makes a great outdoor activity for all ages when you’ve exhausted things to do in nearby Beaumaris.

So if you’re looking to escape the crowds of Beaumaris and Penmon Point while taking in a slice of Welsh history, then Castell Aberlleiniog (as it’s known locally) more than fits the bill!

Aberlleiniog Castle (Castell Aberlleiniog) History

Of course, before visiting this hidden fortress, it’s worth learning a little bit about the castle’s role in what was a turbulent period in Welsh history.

This castle is actually a Norman motte-and-bailey fortress that was constructed in approximately 1088. The person overseeing the building of this castle was Robert of Rhuddlan, who acted on behalf of a prominent 11th-century nobleman, the 1st Earl of Chester, Hugh D’Avranches.

Castell Aberlleiniog
The stone walls and turrets were most likely added in the 17th century.

North Wales, and the isle of Anglesey in particular, was seen as an important strategic outpost. It was considered the “breadbasket” of the region thanks to its rich, fertile soil. As a result, the 1st Earl of Chester (Hugh D’Avranches) instructed an invasion.

The sitting Welsh Lord, Gruffudd ap Cynan, was overthrown, and work began on the castle immediately to secure the area.

However, Norman superiority would not last long. After being imprisoned by the Normans, Gruffudd ap Cynan was subsequently released shortly before the turn of the century and promptly raised an army to invade the isle of Anglesey.

His raiding party reached Aberlleiniog Castle and burnt the structure to the ground. The castle, in its motte-and-bailey form, was never rebuilt. The reason Aberlleiniog Castle wasn’t restored to its 11th-century glory has a lot to do with Beaumaris Castle being built just a mile away a few centuries later.

castell aberlleiniog
The inner square of the castle, which is often quite overgrown in the summer.

Almost half a millennium later, the castle witnessed a return to occupation during the 17th century. Thomas Cheadle (the Constable of Beaumaris) adapted the site into an artillery fort to maintain control of the Menai Strait during the Second English Civil War. It was likely at this point that the stone towers we can see today were added.

Why Was a Motte-and-Bailey Castle Built Here?

This impressive structure was primarily an earth and timber construction in its first iteration. The site was chosen due to its height (it sits on top of a small hill) and the natural defences that it afforded. It was surrounded by steep drops and a deep dry ditch.

aberlleiniog castle anglesey
On-site information boards tell you more about the castle’s early structure.

There is also a small mound positioned much closer to the shores of the strait, which may have hosted a fortified lookout tower.

Getting to Aberlleiniog Castle

The only way to reach the castle is on foot through the surrounding woodland. There are a couple of car parking options. Where you park will depend on whether you want only to visit the castle or intend on making it a pit stop along a longer walk.

What’s the Best Car Park for Aberlleiniog Castle?

The closest car park to Aberlleiniog Castle is the Lleiniog Beach car park. It’s a beautiful location in its own right, affording you stunning views of the mountains across the Menai Strait. Better still, as of the time of writing, there is no charge for this car park.

There are plenty of picnic tables if you fancy a spot of lunch before or after visiting the castle.

However, please note that there is a height barrier, so you won’t be able to gain access if you arrive in a camper van or another oversized vehicle.

aberlleiniog car park north wales
This is the best car park for accessing Aberlleiniog Castle.

Alternatively, you can continue along the same road and park one of the lay-bys before Penmon, or at the Priory car park. There are several options for a walk from Penmon to the castle, with most routes taking roughly an hour to get to the castle.

Where is Parking for Aberlleiniog Castle?

The postcode for this Aberlleiniog Castle car park is LL58 8RN. However, note that this local postcode is for the following hamlet. If you’ve gone past the Pines Residential Park, you’ve gone too far.

Take the B5109 out of Beaumaris until you reach the village of Tre-Castell. As you approach the edge of the village, you notice a crossroads where you’ll need to take a right hand turn off the main road (signposted Penmon). Follow the road as it winds through the woodland until you see the entrance to the car park on the right-hand side.

Alternatively, you can continue along the same road and park one of the lay-bys before Penmon, or at the Priory car park. There are several options for a walk from Penmon to the castle, with most routes taking an hour (or longer) to get to the castle.

Lastly, you could find somewhere suitable to park in Llangoed and walk down one of the paths that link up with the main walkways to the castle.

Aberlleiniog Castle Walk

As mentioned, there are several ways to reach the castle. However, by far the most common and easiest way is from the Lleiniog Beach car park.

The route is a nice, flat walk that tracks the river Lleiniog and you can make it into a circular route should you wish. In total, the walk from the car park to the castle is roughly one kilometre.

Once parked, up head back to the car park entrance. From here, turn left and follow the road back towards Llangoed before crossing over to the gate and signpost on the corner. Go through the gate and follow the path as it runs parallel to the river and the road.

aberlleiniog castle sign anglesey
Look for this sign after setting off along the road from the car park.

Eventually, this path meets another coming in from the road. Continue along this path until you see a bridge on your right. Cross over the bridge and continue to follow the path for a few hundred yards. Then bear right and follow the wooden boardwalk up towards the castle.

castell aberlleiniog gate
The gate you are looking for from the car park.

The boardwalk performs a switchback as you continue to ascend and once it runs out, continue on the path (bearing slightly right) until you encounter another raised boardwalk on your left.

At this point, you’ll be able to see the castle. Head up the boardwalk and climb the steps to arrive at the entrance to the castle.

aberlleiniog castle walk
The boardwalk switchback.

Once you’ve done walking around the walls, main central square, and towers, you can return down the boardwalk and turn left, following the path until it opens up into a grassy meadow. This is a great spot for a picnic if you have one handy.

You can exit the grassy meadow in the north corner to access alternative paths and complete a circular loop back to the car park.

aberlleiniog castle walk
The steps leading up to the castle entrance.

Aberlleiniog Castle FAQs

How Long Should I Spend At Aberlleiniog Castle?

You can spend as long or as short as you need walking around the castle. You can easily walk the castle perimeter and inner square within 10-15 minutes, and the walk to get there from the Lleiniog Castle takes roughly the same time.

Therefore, it makes sense to make this an add-on activity to time spent either at Penmon or Beaumaris, rather than having it as the main focus of your day. As mentioned, there are plenty of picnic spots at the castle, car park, and nearby, so it makes for an excellent lunch break.

How Much Does it Cost to Enter Aberlleiniog Castle?

Nothing, the castle is free to enter for all ages.

When is the Best Time to Visit Aberlleiniog Castle?

When weighing up when to visit the castle, it’s best to consider your own preferences. The castle is rarely busy. However, you may want to get there reasonably early in the morning to secure a space at the car park and enjoy a quiet visit.

Alternatively, you may want to leave it until later in the afternoon, once again when the car park and visitors numbers have receded.

If you’re a family, arriving around lunchtime shouldn’t present any issues. However, be aware that school holidays may cause issues with parking. Since this location is so popular for picnics, it may be better to arrive before 11 am and after 2 pm to increase your chances of a hassle-free experience.

What Time of Year Should I Visit Aberlleiniog Castle?

While summer is the most popular time of year to visit the castle, the spring and autumn months may provide better visiting experiences. In summer, the foliage is quite extensive (hiding the castle), and the site can become extensively overgrown in places.

The castle isn’t as obscured in winter, so it doesn’t belie that “hidden” feeling quite as much. The path can often be flooded or muddy during the autumn and winter months, too, so that’s something else to bear in mind. Walking boots or wellies are recommended!

On a nice sunny day in late spring, you can smell the wild garlic carpet of the woodland floor and have birdsong accompanying you on your journey. Whereas in autumn, you can soak up the castle in a beautiful array of autumn leaf colours.

Does Aberlleiniog Castle Have Toilets?

No, there are no toilets or washroom facilities at the castle. In fact, there are no facilities at all, so please bear that in mind when visiting.

Is Aberlleiniog Castle Pushchair-Friendly?

No, the walk to the castle involves quite a few steps, and the paths around the castle perimeter are very narrow. Since there is a bit of a walk to the castle from the car park, this attraction isn’t suitable for young infants unless you intend to carry them.

Is Aberlleiniog Castle Accessible?

No, unfortunately, Aberlleiniog Castle is not disabled-friendly. There are several steps to climb to reach the castle entrance, and there is no ramp or stairlift facility provided.

Is Aberlleiniog Castle Dog-Friendly?

Yes, you can bring your dog on your visit to Aberlleiniog Castle.

Who Owns Aberlleiniog Castle?

The castle is owned by Menter Môn, Anglesey’s Enterprise and Rural Development Agency. It is managed by a steering group of local representatives.. The management priorities for the site include its historical and cultural interest, nature conservation, and public access.

Joe Roberts

Joe is a keen runner and loves exploring new places to stretch his legs within North Wales. Particular favourites at the moment include Newborough Forest and pretty much anywhere in Snowdonia.

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