Fort Belan is a coastal fortress in North Wales. Situated at the tip of the Dinlle Peninsula, the windblown, north-westernmost point of the Welsh mainland, the fort is cut off twice a day by the incoming tide.

The fort was built in 1775 by Thomas Wynn, then MP for Caernarfonshire and later to become Lord Newborough. He was worried about the vulnerability of Britain's coastline to attack, particularly because of the recently begun American War of Independence. Fort Belan was the only purpose-built fort of the American Revolution on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean.

In the late 1780s, the barracks were used to ward off raiding American privateers from the Irish Sea. In the 1820s, the Wynn family turned it into a private fort for themselves, adding a small harbour for Spencer Wynn's steam yacht. Major construction works took place between 1824 and 1826. The watchtower was built in the 1890s by Freddie Wynn, and it housed a telescope.

In 1907, Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey described seeing a dock, workshops for repairing vessels, marine storehouses, winches, and cranes. During World War II, the fort was again used for military purposes as the base for the Home Guard and two rescue launches. In the 1950s it was owned by Colonel Robert Vaughan Wynn. The Wynn family sold the property in 1992 to the Blundells as a base for marine biology exploration.


The fort's innermost buildings are slightly taller than the 6.1 m stone walls. In the centre of the fort is a sheltered quadrangle; at one time, there were peacocks there. Fortified towers are located at either end of the courtyard. Each of the towers displays the two-headed eagle of the first Lord Newborough. Small two-storey houses that were used as officer and privates' quarters line the flanks, commodious barracks for the Caernarvonshire county militia. Approximately 24 cannons form a gun battery along the walls. One of the inner corridors is said to be the haunt of a phantom nursemaid.

Present use

Fort Belan formerly housed a maritime museum and a pottery, before being re-purposed as a self-catering holiday complex. Notably Princess Margaret stayed at the fort for the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969.



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Llanwnda, United Kingdom
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Founded: 1775
Category: Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Michael Rieveley (11 months ago)
Fort Belan originally built, at the behest of Lord Newborough, to be manned by his militia' to ward off any attempted invasion by Napoleon. Now operating solely as holiday accommodation. The Fort is approached from Dinas Dinlle beyond Caernarfon airport, sits at southern most end of the Menai Strait at Abermenai Point overlooking the narrow channel between the mainland and Ynys Mon/Anglesey. The Newborough estate at one time was centred around Glynllifon, the home of the Wynn Family. Within the extensive grounds of Glynllifon is another Fort manned by the private militia. There is a tower from which they could see and receive signals from Fort Belan. Helens Tower in nearby Caernarfon was also built by Lord Newborough to perform a similar function. Before its current use, it was open as a tourist attraction and as a holiday home for Lord Newborough and other members of the Wynn Family and their friends. Glynllifon came under the ownership of Gwynedd County Council. Like many stately homes, the cost of upkeep and taxation may well have been behind the decision to sell. Lord Newborough Glynllifon and took up residence at the Rhug Estate near Corwen.
Jon Smith (13 months ago)
Unique spot and surroundings. Sea, sand, wildlife, amazing views and walks on your doorstep. Accommodation is first rate and well managed. Plenty of heating and hot water plus log fires. Rest and recuperation guaranteed.
michelle barker (16 months ago)
Walked here from Dinas Dinlle beach. Is an amazing and very interesting place. Anglesey looks like you could almost reach out and touch it. You can feel the history of this place even without going in. And there are great views of the mountains. Well worth the 4 or 5 mile round hike
Dave Finley (16 months ago)
Place was lovely but we only went there for a walk and was told that you can't have a look around as it is private holidays rentals.
Ian Branston (4 years ago)
Great place to stay if you want something unusual. The Fort has a lot of cottages set around a courtyard. One was big enough for a family of 8 when I stayed. The setting is incredible, just off the corner of the mainland looking across the Menai Strait.
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