Last night I considered my options for ending up in Bangor on the opposite side of the Menai Strait from Anglesey. I was staying centrally in Holyhead at the Stanley Arms, a nice boozer with rooms, run by Ivor Thomas who has been in the pub trade all over England and Wales for 37 years, the last seven at the Stanley Arms in his home town. Ivor finished serving food at 6pm and, as I arrived at about 5.40 I wasn’t going to get fed at the pub unless I sat down in my smelly cycling kit. I fancied a proper curry anyway and Ivor rang Nuha in the High Street who said that they could sit me down at about 7pm. The alternative was a takeaway which I didn’t fancy. Having done the usual offices I went down for a pint and a chat with Ivor who was interested in my journey. He has a scooter and has been off travelling in Europe for the last few years with a couple of mates. Next year they are planning to go to a scooter riders rally in central Portugal and he was interested in my RidewithGPS navigation system for their trip. He seemed quite relaxed about the new Covid regulations although they are bound to have an effect on his business. At 7 I wandered down to Nuha and had a very good Chicken Chat, a prettly good Lamb Biryani and a not very good onion bahji but it satisfied my curry yearning and was not expensive. However it was a strange dining experience: I was the only diner and the waiter tentatively pushed the plates across the table at me as if I was going to infect him. There was a very overweight man who came in to collect a takeaway and sat huffing and puffing until it was ready and there were a few orders going out through the door. Ambience zero.
Ivor doesn’t do breakfast, providing cheap but good accommodation. The enormous bed was comfortable and the shower worked well. I was able to rig a line up to dry my clothes which were ready in the morning. At £38.30 for the night it was good value.
As I said, I spent a bit of time last night looking at different routes to Bangor. My original plan was to go around the north coast of the island but 65 miles of hard riding didn’t appeal in my current state. The most direct route, about 25 miles, was on the main road but I wanted to see a bit more of Anglesey so ended up with a journey of about 45 miles.
I set off at about 9.30 without any breakfast apart from a couple of plums that I had left over from my Lidl lunch and a cup of tea. First port of call was South Stack on the opposite side of Holy Island from Holyhead. It involved a bracing climb in a strengthening wind which was to stay with me all day. The forecast was for sunny periods and showers but as I rode up to South Stack the sun peeped through though by the time I took the paicture of the lighthouse below me it had disappeared behind the clouds.
There were some walkers about and bird watchers with binoculars at the ready. I turned round and continued south with some easy riding to Trearddur Bay, by which time the sun had re-appeared and there were some happily noisy dogs on the beach.
There are two bridges linking Holy Island to Anglesey island and I had arrived yesterday on the main A55 causeway so, for a change, I went over the other at Four Mile Bridge before heading north, crossing yesterday’s path at Valley, heading for Llyn Alaw, Anglesey’s main reservoir that was created out of marshy ground in the 1960s. It’s about two and a half miles long and the catchment is mainly winter rainfall, though it looked fairly full today. It is an SSSI due to the large numbers of over-wintering birds and is an active fishery with good stocks of brown and rainbow trout. My route took me high above the reservoir with sunlight reflecting off the water. The countryside was full with sheep and cattle and there are several wind tubines which were working hard today
The wind was trying and I had three layers of clothes and was not feeling hot despite some brisk climbing at times. Eventually the inevitable rain came, not heavy but cold and I stopped behind a hedge and put on my waterproof jacket. The storm only lasted a few minutes and by this stage I had done about 30 miles so I pressed on to join the main road to Pentraeth. Here I stopped at the large Spar shop attached to a filling station and bought some lunch: having had no breakfast I scoffed a cheese and ham baguette, a sausage roll and a couple of egg mayonnaise sandwiches as well as buying some Jaffa cakes to keep me going later. Revitalised I slogged uphill on the cycleway by the road, through some traffic lights controlling a tree felling operation and then very steeply down into Beaumaris with its Edwardian castle. Unfortunately Cadw the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage who manage the castle don’t open it on Thursday and Friday so I could only stand and stare. It has been described as Britain’s “most perfect example of symmetrical concentric planning”, as can be seen from the picture below. As I don’t have either wings or a drone I have nicked this picture from Wikipedia.
The castle was built to tame the inhabitants of Anglesey who had rebelled against the king. The Natives were expelled, and an English town grew around the castle which was never completed but changed hands several times over the centuries. As the castle commands the Menai Strait it became an important fort against invasion from Scotland and vast sums of money were spent on it.
It is now a glorious ruin which I was sorry not to be able to explore more fully, especially as I had a bit of time to do so.
I now had about seven miles to travel along the Strait and over the Menai Bridge. This suspension bridge was designed and built by Thomas Telford using wrought iron chains suspending a wooden platform and completed in 1826. All but the original stone towers has been replaced over the years to allow for the increase in weight of traffic. It is a fine Grade I listed structure and when you stop in the middle of the cycleway to take pictures, as I did, there is an appreciable bounce up and down as traffic passes.
I am staying the night at Bangor University and arrived at about 3.30 pm giving me a good rest before tomorrow’s 80 mile journey to Wrexham.