Having an Audax for 215 km (133m) on the near horizon I needed to do a lengthy bike ride to reacquaint myself, mentally, with long distance cycling. I guessed that if I could do 80 mile comfortably then I can squeeze the extra out on the day.
I had a number of routes to choose from, depending upon the weather, and with an Easterly wind prevailing on that clear and sunny morning I decided on the North Wales Coastal route.
This route has many advantages – it’s mostly flat, so the miles can be accumulated quickly, and there are plenty of cafes en-route. It is also picturesque.
Leaving Chester by the Dee cycle path, I joined National Cycle Network route 5 (NCN 5) as my route crossed the river at Hawarden Bridge. The riverside and old docks at Connah’s Quay are another fascinating spot. A short stretch of busy road followed before arriving at Flint, and turning off to visit the Castle area. This is such an interesting spot, and the recent addition of two wooden characters – one a fisherwoman sitting on a bench, filleting fish; the other an RNLI seaman, looking to the wider estuary with his binoculars, adds to the atmosphere and are a uperbly characterised.
Ignoring the inland section of NCN 5 I kept on the main road through Mostyn and visited the memorial to the Point of Ayr Colliery at Ffynnongroyw. At this point a good cycle path leaves the main road and makes for Talacre – a bit of Rhyl that’s broken off and landed upstream.
A lovely dunes path and a section through a golf course and extensive caravan park leads in to Prestatyn.
NCN 5 has rejoined by this point and hugs the shore through Rhyl and Abergele to Colwyn Bay. Onwards to Rhôs-on-Sea before a stiff climb up the shoulder of Little Orme before a grateful drop down to the promenade at Llandudno.
The road around the Great Orme is quite exciting and feels quite alpine as it hugs the rock face, with drops down to the sea on the right. The views are superb. A long drop down to Delaney followed and a few busy roads needed to be negotiated before arriving in Conwy for a well-earned break.
On the map the next section looked confusing, as NCN5 criss-crosses the A55 numerous times before taking to a country lane parallel to the main road, before dropping into Bangor. In practise, the execution of the first section was brilliantly engineered as long cycle bridges ducked and dived around the busy A55 and the tunnel entrances. Plenty of climbing but always interesting.
After passing through Abergwyngregyn the route hugs the hard shoulder of the A55 for a short spell before taking to a parallel country lane. Unfortunately a bridge was being replaced further along this road, so NCN5 was diverted to the SW, climbing high into the foothills before a steep descent into Llandygai to regain the route.
The last few miles to Bangor station pass the splendid University Buildings, and I arrived at the station with 15 minutes to spare before the next train to Chester. Thankfully there was room for my bike, and so ended a superb ride. (79 miles, 3000 ft)