Day 10. Over the Hill to Anglesey

Woodlands Hall Hotel is a 13 bedroom hotel that sits on the edge of the village of Edern in the middle of the Lleyn peninsula. It has vast rooms downstairs for functions and events which, when the place is mostly empty, are a bit soulless. My bike was put in an unused bar and I had a decent shower and came down for something to eat. There is a surprisingly large choice although soup was not available, so I opted for tacos with guacamole and cheese and, as I was quite hungry, ordered garlic focaccio on the side with fish and chips to follow. What arrived was a huge pile of tacos and 4 large slices of focaccio, really too much but, being me, I finished it all. The fish and chips were again very generous and I left most of the chips and left the table feeling over-full. It was all well cooked and served but I think they could cut back on portion sizes without complaint.

During the night there was a heavy rain storm at about midnight and an over-flowing gutter outside my window made a lot of noise as the water hit a flat roof so my night was a bit disturbed. However the bed was comfortable, the electric heater dried my clothes and I felt rested by morning. For breakfast I decided to cut back and went for poached eggs on toast which were well cooked.

There is a substantial range of hills between Edern and the coast road to Caernarfon and my route showed some alarming gradients. I had another look and found that by increasing the distance I could reduce the climbing so this is what I did and had a pleasant ride along the wide A499 which is the main road between Pwllheli and the north coast. Once on the coast there was a dedicated cycle track the full 15 miles to Carnarfon which made life very easy, though I turned off and went across country to the coast as the main road turned inland, which meant that I approached Caernarfon Castle from the south.

Unfortunately the pedestrian/cycle bridge that you can see to the right of the castle was, unbeknownst to me, closed for maintanance meaning that I had to take a two mile detour upstream. This was very annoying because I had considered staying on the main road for the full journey and would have avoided the inconvenience and extra distance although it did allow me the opportunity for my Welsh word of the day.

On the way back down into the town I was able to take a more spectacular picture of the magnificent castle, one of the main Edwardian castles in North Wales and the site of the Investiture of the last two Princes of Wales, Edward, later Duke of Windsor, at the instigation of Constable of the Castle and later Prime Minister, David Lloyd George in 1911 and Charles in 1969.

There is a cycle lane of varying goodness between Caernarfon and the Menai Bridge which is where I was heading. However the Britannia bridge, a tubular iron structure originally built by Robert Stephenson to carry rail traffic in 1850, and now double decked to carry both rail and road, is closer. There is, however, no cycle lane so it was a somewhat nervous cyclist that joined the North Wales Expressway, the main A55 road from Chester to Holyhead.

In the event there was no problem and I even stopped in the middle to take a picture of the Menai Bridge and will probably return the compliment tomorrow when I cross the Menai Bridge on my way to Bangor: traffic was relatively light and the carriageway is wide so I was soon turning off to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll. It would have been unthinkable not to stop and take a picture of the railway station that, with 58 letters, has the longest single place name in Europe. The name has also been adopted by the adjacent shopping centre.

I bought my lunch next door at the Co-op that was undergoing refurbishment and stopped and ate it outside in the sun, exciting the interest of a man of about my age, a retired geography teacher, who was intrigued by my journey. He said that about 60 years ago his father gave him a bike, without gears which he rode from Walton-on Thames to Anglesey in three days – a remarkable feat. He wished me well and we went our separate ways.

I now debated what to do. I had intended to follow the coast of Anglesey as closely as sensible but I am pretty saddle sore and did not relish the 75 mile journey entailed. I looked at the map and reckoned I could shave about 10 miles off and not really miss much, so that is what I have done, arriving in Holyhead feeling much better than I have for the last couple of days, chiefly because I have done little energetic climbing. The forecast tomorrow is for strong winds and rain so I shall cut out most of the north coast of Ynys Mon on my way back to Bangor. The only “must” is Beaumaris Castle and I have three optional routes to get there. I shall decide in the morning.

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