Angelsey Outdoors hostel and Conwy Youth Hostel
(Ordnance Survey Map Numbers:114 / 115 Grid References: SH 237 806 / SH 775 774 )
There and back again -
The Ladies Weekend 2013.
First challenge for everyone was to get to Holyhead, with an hourly-ish train service taking two bikes at a time (four if a Virgin train), and 19 women heading from Wirral/ Chester/ N.Wales. Welna and I booked on the early one at 9:58, straight through to Holyhead with only two stops.
This train got us to Holyhead station with blue skies and bright April sunshine. We left the station, dropped our bags at the hostel and met Sonia, who had jumped an earlier train, in order to make the most of the sunny day. So we set off on a little jaunt.
(This is the clock tower outside the station. Collette, somehow, did not even see this on her arrival. We still do not know where she went, or what route she took to the hostel (arriving much later at 9pm)!)
Welna, Sonia and I traced the first part of Route 5, as a reccy for the next morning, and because we knew of a nice cafe at Llynon Mill. And indeed, the cafe was as nice as we remembered, this time we were able to sit outside in the glorious sunshine.
Our return route brought us past Valley, over four mile bridge and into Trearddur Bay, where Welna spied a bargain bottle of wine, swiftly purchased before continuing along the coast and back to the hostel.
People started to arrive through the evening, and our sunny spot on the veranda with a glass of wine re-located to the Paddlers Return bar, where drinks and evening meals continued.
Day 2 - Holyhead - Llanerchymedd - Bangor - Conwy.
Saturday morning dawned as sunny as the Friday, although chilly with an 8:30 ish start. Once a certain few people handed their luggage over to a dedicated set of parents (eyes rolled in mock disdain!) then we could pose for a full photograph, with everyone present.
|At the start 0 miles, 110 to go|
We wound through the country park by Angelesy Aluminium, which is closing (see BBC News), and came out by the toll house on the old A5, built about 200 years ago by Thomas Telford.
We continued along the Stanley Embankment, the causeway linking Holy Island to main
Angelsey, and then off through the lanes. We passed yesterday's windmill and continued, at differing speeds, towards coffee stop - but before that I had a messenger from behind - three were lost, had been seen heading off after missing a turn. Despite shouting and performing elaborate dance moves in the road (so I was told) my ultimate back markers could not call them back,and had spent several miles head down trying to catch up with the main group, and me.
I decided it made more sense to get to the cafe,and do a roll call.
|Station Cafe at Llanerchymedd, the track is still in place|
on the other side of the station building.
After several phone calls and texts - mostly by Claire - the three were apparently located near Llangefni. Not too far away, but too far to re-trace. A suggested route was given, to meet up at a future point, and on we continued.
After coffee stop the route continued to get hillier (which with panniers seems a bit harder), but gave lovely views of the still snowy Snowdonia peaks in the distance.
As he mountains got larger, and we neared Menai, I said to look out for a gateway on the right as we descended a steep hill. Vicky found it, and we all stopped (those who were with me) and had a photo stop.
|Menai bridge can be seen to the left above Jane's head !|
The final descent was steep and long, all the way to Menai. By this time we knew the lost ones had been located by the first gang to leave the coffee stop, and were heading to Bangor and lunch stop.
We crossed Menai bridge, and stopped to re-group and take some photos, and then followed the main road rather than Route 5 (which takes a tenuous and very hilly meander around the lesser sights of Bangor, for no reason) and dropped down to Bangor Pier. Yes, Bangor has a pier.
|Sonia near Menai bridge|
|Lawns leading down to Garth (Bangor) Pier|
The Tap & Spile pub was our planned lunch stop, opposite some lovely lawns that some took the opportunity to sit on and enjoy the sun, others explored down to the pier. the food was nice, and not too expensive.
Soon it was time to leave, but not before the obligatory photos - so here they are...
After the corner by the pier and pub, Route 5 in Bangor slinks down and across a boat yard, before picking up a railway line up through a wonderful wooded valley.
This track continues up into Snowdonia, and along the Nant Ffrancon Valley, but that is for another day. Our route left the railway line after a couple of miles, where we joined a lane (through a gate helpfully held open by some local youths)
By now there was only three of us, all the other ladies merrily speeding along in the sun following little blue route 5 signs. We met a few more, who were returning to the route after missing a turning as the signs had been turned round - can be a hazard with permanent road signs!
Shortly after this we picked up a lane that rose slightly and then paralleled the main A55 below us, giving sea views towards The Great Orme in the distance.
We continued along the little lane, heading now for the cafe at Abergwyngregan. I met a young lady (Helen) along the way, and invited her to join us (she was also heading to Conwy, and was easily persuaded to join us for coffee and cake!).
After Y Hen Felin cafe, we headed through Llanfairfechan, and over the bridges - I recall coming through with Sonia and Roy Spilsbury, our Right to Ride rep local to the area, who was showing us the then new bridges four years ago. The track then takes a wonderful line over the top of the A55 tunnel, where you have to stop for a photo!
After a glorious ride over the tops, you come to more bridges that bring you back down to road level, and now - new to me - the route drops down a steep set of zig zags to underneath the A55, and alongside the coast side. Where who should we meet but the aforementioned Roy! He said he had seen all these 'lovelies' cycling along, smiling and saying hello (as you do). So we had a quick photo, too!
|Roy and Sue|
The second set of tunnels we skirt round the outside, before a new bridge now takes you onto the dunes above the expanse of sandy beach that leads round to Conwy. The best bit for me, however, is the path round the marina which opens up the view of the river,bridge and then Conwy castle - truly spectacular!
...And just as we stopped to admire the view, a steam train came along the bridge, blowing it's whistle. Magic.
We continued into Conwy, passing under the walls, and after splitting from the B&B girls, we headed up the hill through Conwy, and up the Sychnant Pass road, and finally up the driveway to the Hostel. Phew!
Showers, bed making, bike stowing, and large school group negotiated and we headed into town to meet all the others in Ye Olde Mail Coach bar, before our booked table at Alfredo's (Italian in Conwy).
Day 3 - Conwy - Abergele - Whitford - Home!
|At the front of Conwy Youth Hostel|
In the grand tradition of all weekends away, Sunday was grey, with more than a slight promise of rain. Still, we gathered for a photo before retracing the hill - this time down - to the river, to meet with the B&B girls.
We met up, and sent one group ahead as they were ready, and then we followed on.
Leaving Conwy over the bridge, we swung underneath and round, using a short stretch of main road, before ducking off left onto a small lane, which again parallels the main road but higher up so affords a distant view of the road. after rallying for a water-bottle stop,we continued through Penrhyn Bay to the coast once again.
The weather continued to be gloomy, but still dry. We were meeting Vicky who had stayed at Llandudno, and I had suggested we meet up at a little church on the headland, St Trillos.
We continued to the little church - smallest in Britain, and took photos and had a little explore. They still have services, and there is a note outside saying when they are to be held. You can read a little about it here.
After our little stop, we carried on along the coast, past the sad remains on Colwyn Bay Pier, with all the diggers, and on to Abergele where there is a great cafe and gift shop. Time for a second breakfast! This was where we also waved goodbye to the contingent who were going to continue along the coast through Fflint and home, cutting out the hilly section.
Now we had a bit of a dash along the front, to try to get to the Pub at something approximately lunchtime. 5 ladies were already ahead, and had gone to a different cafe a little further along the front.
|The first hill up|
After Prestatyn the route turns inland - and up. However after climbing you then have smashing views across the estuary.
It is a little hillier after the flat coast - but The Druid is a smashing pub, serves food all day (Sundays), very friendly, roaring log fire...like I say, worth the effort. And with some super downhills too (especially into Llanasa).
|The Druid Inn, Lloc.|
The far end of the table left just after we arrived - as it was starting to rain. I was very glad just to unlock my bike and release them, and head back into the pub with the roaring fire and my pint of Guinness!
We then split further, with two heading over the hills to Mold, and Wendy and I continuing on Route 5. The route is more interesting over the top, behind Pantasaph Franciscan Friary, along mined and lumpy open land, through a golf course - and by now the sun was out.
We came across a fenced off piece of land, with an information board. At the time we were experiencing some drizzly rain - but I wanted to know what it was. Naid Y March marks the spot where a chap jumped his horse across an open mine shaft (in the 1500's!)
(not sure if you can click on the pic to the right to read it...?)
We crossed underneath the A55 by a place called Dolphin, then dropped and climbed an arrow each side of Nant - Fflint (Flint Valley - this is a totally new part of the world to me!); before stopping awhile near a farm gate, with spectacular views across the estuary to Point of Ayr and Hilbre - made all the more dramatic by them being in sunshine, but with a big bank of black cloud above.
After this short stop we had the MOST ASTONISHING descent into Bagillt - Wendy, a keen mountain biker even described how she was 'mincing' down the hill, hanging onto her brakes all the way down. Not a hill I ever think I want to go up!!!
I say familiar, I have ridden them before, around a few playing fields and housing estate - can you believe this is where I took possibly the only wrong turn of the two days! Fortunately I realised very quickly and we were able to pick it back up and continue.
|Dee estuary and Fflint Bridge|
After we passed Yvonne's cafe (not open at 5pm on a Sunday!) we paused for the last photo - as the sun was back out in glory, so the Fflint Bridge was shining like a masterpiece. Gateway to Wales. The rest of the route is so familiar to us I did not take any pictures, but if I find any later I will add them in!
Something like 110 miles over two days.