The properties are cut-off at high-tide
A stunning “fantasy” island home may look like the dream getaway, but locals claim they ‘wouldn’t live there for £1m quid’ – because it floods every spring.
Ynys Gorad Goch in North Wales may look like your idyllic holiday get-away with its pristine views of the Menai Strait but what it takes to stay there is enough to send you packing.
Being situated in the Menai Strait made Ynys Gorad Goch an ideal spot for fishing families for more than 400 years until it was turned into a rustic holiday let. It’s now believed to be back under private ownership.
A photo shared this week showed water edging up flood walls, barely protecting the properties on the island which separates Anglesey from Gwynedd. At low tide, the 19th century stone weirs are visible and a 20-metre causeway which links the two properties on the island become accessible. During high-tide, the island is divided by water.
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One woman said: “That would have me climbing out onto the roof!” Another said: “I enjoy solitude but I wouldn’t live there if they paid me a million quid a day”. A man said he’d have a boat on standby or “sleep in inflatable armbands” if he lived there. The historic island is one of the best preserved of 20 fish traps built in the Menai Strait and includes stone weirs and a fish-smoking chamber built in 1824, according to NorthWalesLive.
Each weir faces in opposite directions to trap fish whichever way the tide flowed. The property had been in continuous use until 1959. Back in its heyday, the weirs trapped huge quantities of herring and other fish, as well as an unsuspecting human. In July 1937, Bath teacher Margaret Phillips, 25, went swimming in one of the weirs and was sucked into a gully hole by a strong ebb current. It’s thought she failed to hear people shouting warnings because she was wearing a bathing cap.
When fishing declined, the property became a get-away that could only be accessed by boat and welcomed visitors like renowned portrait artist Ishbel McWhirter. By the mid-1990s, it was given a modernised interior by the Wirral and West Cheshire Expedition Society. Before, inhabitants had no fresh water and had to rely on a 12-Volt car battery for electricity, though candles and a gas lamp were provided for light.
Engineers later fitted the island with a new substation, 740 metres of cable from Anglesey (Ynys Môn) and, for the first time, provided the place with hot showers and central heating. It was let as a holiday shack and dubbed “fantasy island”. This week’s tides were higher than usual and when Susan Hughes’ photo was taken on Monday, November 13, levels were close to peaking. At 10.22am the tide reached 7.15 metres – but it was higher on the following three days.
The highest tide recorded in the strait this year was 8.03 metres on February 22, according to NorthWalesLive. Occasional storm surges have pushed water levels as high as 11.2 metres, more than enough to swamp the island’s two properties. An ancestor of fishing families who once lived on the island said the house flooded every spring but families “knew when to expect it” and moved their belongings upstairs, he wrote on Facebook.
Another said the house was built for floods. He said the ground floor is made from red quarry tiles and all the skirtings downstairs were concrete. He said sump pumps emptied the ground floor of water once the tide had receded. He added: “All they have to do is rinse all the floors with fresh water and it dries within a couple of hours.”
That was more than enough to turn people off. One person said: “Who the hell would want to live in a predicament like that?” Another said: “I would be up the tree by now!” referring to the smokery house tree so visible from the A55 Britannia Bridge. A third added simply: “OMG, that’s mad!” Others pondered on more modern-day problems like where to put the bins and safe places for Amazon Prime deliveries. “Quite a unique place to live but not for everyone,” noted one person. “Not convenient if you need to pop to the shops!”
Researchers at Bangor University think the Menai Strait became what we know it to be today between 5,800 and 4,600 years ago around the time the first farmers began cultivating land in North Wales. It’s also thought the Menai Strait was dry and easily accessible to humans and animals some 14,000 years ago. That ended as the climate warmed and ice melted, causing seawater to encroach on either end of the strait.
Anglesey was finally cut off by a high spring tide 8,600 years ago. As the waters kept rising, by 2,000BC only a tidal causeway near Ynys Gorad Goch linked Anglesey with the mainland.