The island of Anglesey is split from the North Wales mainland by the Menai Strait. This extensive strip of water is of great value to paddlers. If the rivers are dry, or the winds too strong to venture out to open sea, the Strait provides a useful haven where fun can still be had. It is also well worth visiting, regardless of the conditions elsewhere.
The character of the Strait changes significantly throughout its run from Caernarfon, northwards to Beaumaris. The section between Caernarfon and Felinheli is similar to a river estuary, but the next section between Felinheli and Menai Bridge is quite different. Here it is narrow, rocky, and more akin to a winding river canyon. The narrowest section of the strait is crossed by two impressive bridges, the Britannia Bridge and Telford’s suspension bridge. The group of small islands and rocks between the bridges is known as the Swellies. Conditions in this popular area are variable but a grade II river standard can occur on a spring tide.
The tidal streams in the Menai Strait are strong and fast (up to 8 knots) in both directions. Accurate tidal planning is essential, although this is not that easy to do. There are a number of complicated factors which must be taken into account, such as the relationship between high or low water and slack water, plus the differing nature of the flood and the ebb.
Access to the strait can be made in a variety of places including Menai Bridge, Nelson’s Jetty, Felinheli and Caernarfon.