The Watery Pleasures of Cycle Camping in Wales by Colin Holt .

posted in: cycle tours, Personalities

A splashing good tour of north and mid Wales.

Leaving home.

Saturday 8th June 2019
I eventually left the comfort of my Llansanffraid Glan Conwy home late morning after delaying the start of my trip by 24 hours due to severe weather conditions; very heavy and persistent rain. I made my way along the North Wales coast cycle route before heading inland to Llanelwy and on to the Vale of Clwyd. The river Elwy was brown and swollen following the heavy rain which persisted until early afternoon. I meandered along the fairly flat terrain quite easily, my all up weight of 100 kilos not making its presence too obvious!
I arrived at The Three Pigeons pub and campsite at Craigfechan mid afternoon and pitched my tent in the dry! An excellent meal was had together with some rather nice local real ale. A pleasant afternoon and a gentle start to my holiday, 37 miles.

Three Pigeons,Craigfechan

Sunday After my first overnight I departed the Campsite at the Three Pigeons Graigfechan and meandered over the Horseshoe Pass in pleasant conditions. I took the canal towpath from Llangollen to Chirk with a lunch stop at the canal boat cafe at Pontcysyllte; very nice. The afternoon was spent mainly studying the map as I tried to navigate the network of minor roads to Pentre, near Shrewsbury avoiding the main roads at all cost! Thundery showers kept me fresh and a pleasant meal was had in the Royal Hill, Edgerley – 39 miles.

Monday began dry and bright and I enjoyed the views as I climbed over the Breidden hills and Long Mountain on NCR 81 – Lôn Cambria. A long and steep descent into Welshpool for some lunch and then on the pretty Montgomery Canal towpath to Newtown. The heavy rain had now arrived as I pushed on to Llanidloes – 49 miles. The hilly route 81 was now more like a log flume ride as the torrents of surface water turned the lanes into rivers! I pitched the tent in ‘monsoon’ conditions and pondered over the weather forecast… ‘severe weather warning’ for the next 3 days with up-to 100mm of rain daily on high ground and widespread flooding likely!! I decided to abandon my intended route to Aberystwyth and run north to the coast!

Tuesday, I took To Lôn Las Cymru and over the tops to Machynlleth In weather as predicted! Exceptionally wet and cold and requiring use of lights throughout the day! I continued to a campsite in Tywyn, Gwynedd where I camped for free! The site owner saying ‘I can’t charge you in these conditions’! 41 Miles.

Shell Island

The torrential rain continued into Wednesday morning but was forecast to ease later in the day. With everything I owned pretty wet by now, I planned a short hop to Shell Island via Barmouth for lunch –   28 miles. My plan worked and by tea time the rain stopped for the first time in 60hours!! The hospitality was good on the Island and the quietest I have seen it… lovely!

Thursday, I had a rest day… the cold and wet conditions were playing havoc with my arthritic knees! It was cold and grey but NO rain… fab! I dried my kit and enjoyed a walk around the island. A pint or two in the bar also!

Friday dawned grey and wet as I continued north on Lôn Las Cymru but dried up by lunchtime. I had a tailwind and enjoyed the pleasant ride on relatively flat roads. Coffee in Porthmadog, lunch in Criccieth and then the lovely Lôn Eifion to Caernarfon in the sun… wow! A final push to Bangor on the stunning Lôn Las Menai as my planned campsite in Caernarfon was closed. More rain late afternoon but a pleasant meal was had in the Anglesey Arms Hotel Menai Bridge, Sir Fôn. 48 Miles.

Saturday was the only sunny morning I had, I made the most of it brewing tea and removing mud from inside and outside my tent as swallows darted around me.
A short hop home along NCR 5 to Conwy and on to home in the Conwy Valley by late afternoon. 22 Miles.
Apart from the severe weather that hampered my progress, I had a great week. We are so lucky to live and cycle in such a beautiful place and blessed with quiet lanes and traffic free routes- thanks to the good work of Sustrans and Cycling UK.  The latter, under the ‘Cyclists’ Touring Club’ (CTC) banner, having for the past 140yrs been defending cyclists rights.
I completed a very leisurely 270 miles over the week averaging 38 miles daily… I enjoy the views, chatting to locals and taking pictures (hope you enjoy the few below)… Oh! and the odd pint of beer too! Iechyd Da / Cheers!