Day 12 – Along the North Coast

Bangor University open their spare rooms to paying guests. £70 for a decent sized room with a good bathroom and more electric sockets than you could ever need and a full breakfast in the morning. Middling value for money but better than anything else I could find in the area. They have a restaurant where I dined on good tomato and basil soup, a chicken and ham pie and a chocolate gateau washed down with a couple of bottles of ale whose name escapes me but was Welsh and very drinkable. Dining in these Covid times is a dismal experience. Everyone wears masks and the food and drink are left gingerly on the edge of the table or on a tray. The food may be terrific but without any sort of service it is hard to fully appreciate what you are eating. We are all being treated as suspicious and not to be trusted despite the incredibly small numbers of positive cases nationwide. It’s all rather depressing. Breakfast this morning saw a similar lack of service though one of the girls was friendlier. The full breakfast was fine but not tremendous and I left at 0915 with a full stomach.

The north coast of Wales is generally flat so I set myself the task of cycling 80 miles to a Premier Inn just outside Wrexham. However this included cycling round the Great Orme, the limestone peninsula that sticks out into the Irish Sea north west of Llandudno.

Great Orme

This was about 8 miles of cycling that I could do without, especially as there are slopes of up to 9% to contend with so I skipped it and cut across to Colwyn Bay, but I’m geting ahead of myself……

The Management Centre of Bangor Uni sits part way up a hill and I made may way down to sea level before climbing back up again to join the main A55 North Wales Expressway. I hadn’t really meant to do so as there is an alternative but, finding myself on it I was able to bat along quite well on the wide hard shoulder until I found the turning off onto the cycleway. In many ways I should have continued on the A55, in that the cycle way wound itself up some quite steep slopes with little benefit apart from being away from heavy traffic. This first 8 miles saw the heavy climbing out of the way apart from odd very steep but short pitches later in the day. After this I was on dedicated cycle tracks for the next 10 miles to Conwy. At one point the cycleway was taken up an overpass to the mainroad which then disappeared into a tunnel while the poor bloody cyclist had to cope with some of the steep pitches I have referred to. The forecast had been for sunny weather but there was not much sun to be seen. There was, however the forecast wind which was blowing a good Force 4/5, fortunately from the North west which was in my favour.

Choppy seas

I pressed on to Conwy with its magnificent Castle, probably the most impressive I have seen. The sun had come out and there were lots of people taking pictures and wandering around

Conwy castle

I now had to thread myself through roadworks and back roads via Llandudno Junction to Colwyn Bay where I joined the promenade cycle way that went all the way to Prestatyn 16 miles east. It’s generally very well surfaced and wide and would have been a joy to ride along in the absence of the howling gale: at least it wasn’t in my face but there were occasions when I felt as if I was being sandblasted. I passed a forlorn travelling funfair that had been mothballed among the sand dunes near Abergele: I don’t suppose they will be operating for a long time to come.

The most extraordinary thing that I have seen today is the enormous windfarm that sits about 10 miles offshore and stetches from Colwyn Bay to Rhyl. Gwynt y Mor consists of 160 turbines and there are plans for more. There has been considerable opposition to the building of them but I find them strangely attractive and today they must have been supplying significant ammounts to the Grid. It is hard to get a photograph that does them justice and this is the best of several that I took

Gwynt y Mor

At Rhyl I was forced off the promenade by building works. Balfour Beatty had closed the cycleway and I found my way onto the coast road which was not busy. This was a blessing in disguise because I was largely sheltered from the wind by the houses along the road. I found a Co-op and bought lunch which I ate in the sunshine and out of the wind before carrying on on the coast road through Prestatyn. I was now turning south east down the Dee estuary and the cycle ways ran out. I either had to stay on the carriageway or take to some very narrow pavements, neither of which was great but I had to put up with it for the best part of 15 miles.

At Flint I took a look at another ruined Edwardian castle. Most of it has disappeared but according to the signage it took 1800 men to build it over a period of 11 years. It was the first of Edward’s Iron Ring of Castles, built to control the rebellious Welsh and played its part in all the major conflicts since.

Flint Castle

I continued on the main road through Connahs Quay and at Shotton crossed the canalised River Dee on a wooden track on a railway bridge.

This brought me onto a superb cycle track with the wind plumb behind me and I made very good time for about four miles before I had to leave it, and went through Saltney taking, most inadvisedly a narrow path between houses, with several kissing gates which were a pig to get the bike through. However I managed and kept going towards my destination at Wrexham. The last three miles of the journey were substantially uphill which was a bad way to end what had been a relatively easy day’s cycling but I landed at about 5.30pm. Tomorrow I make my way down the first section of the English border.

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