Cycling North Wales September 2010

Route difficulty calculated using cycalc



We started our holiday at Julie’s parents house. Julie’s dad, Graham, joined us for the first 8-miles.


Day-1 was from Wolverhampton to The Premier Inn at Harmers Hill, Shrewsbury: 38-miles with 1730ft ascent, grade hard-B, a gentle start to the holiday. As with all of our cycling holidays, we seek out the small quiet roads. Our route took us through: Bishops Wood, Wheaton Aston, Newport, Crudgington, High Ercall, Hadnall and ending at Harmer Hill.


View 4 Sept 10 in a larger map




Sandy, Julie’s mum, enthusiastically waved us off!



The first day was the only time (honestly) that we were able to stop mid-route for refreshments



Couldn’t stop for long though, back on the trail we passed some unusual houses



A house growing out of a sandstone crag


After our night at the Premier Inn, we set off for Wales. Day-2 was 44-miles with 3300ft ascent, grade Ex-2(61W). Today’s route took us through: Loppington, Lyneal, Spunhill, Tetchill, Dudleston, into Wales at Halton, Blaenau Uchaf, Rhos-Pengwern, Berwyn, Rhewl, Carrog and finally Cowen.


View Day-2: 44-miles, grade Ex-2(61W), 1485kCal in a larger map





This was a hard day after the previous easy day: there were numerous hills at 25%, as here at Fron Uchaf!



With so much climbing we were awarded with some great views! Here looking north towards Llangollen



We were lucky to have great weather, considering how the rest of the country was in rain



It was a very tiring day, and we were glad to get to our hotel in Corwen


Day-3 was another hard day, slightly less distance, slightly more climbing: 39-miles with 3460ft ascent, grade Ex-1(66W), from Corwen to Portmeirion. Our route took us through: Cynwyd, Llandderfel, Bala, Rhyd-uchaf, past Rhaeadr y Cwm gorge, Llan Ffestiniog, past Llyn Mair, Penrhyndeudraeth and finally Portmeirion.


View Day-3: 39-miles, grade Ex-1(66W), 1525kCal in a larger map




These were hard cycling days



On route for Snowdonia



The Ffestiniog narrow-gauge railway



Until, finally, Portmeirion and our accommodation (we stayed in Trinity, one of the buildings of the Village) for the next two nights




The apartment, Trinity, at Portmeirion was very nice




Portmeirion (famous for being the location where The Prisoner was filmed) is essentially one big Folly. Started in the 1920’s, construction took decades to complete. It is now a very comfortable hotel and other apartments in the Village. Ever since enjoying The Prisoner in 1967 I have wanted to visit this place.



The site is, in fact, very small, but the architecture, layout and the use of forced perspective creates an impression of a much larger village



Although the Village is open to day visitors from 0930 to 1530, outside these times the Village was left to the residents




A couple of backdrops often used in filming The Prisoner. The right-hand image shows No.6’s accommodation in The Prisoner


It was an excellent way to spend our rest-day. The restaurants (both the main hotel and The Castle) served excellent cuisine. The staff were all very nice and helpful – we cannot recommend Portmeirion more, it is an excellent place to spend a couple of days!


Reluctantly we had to leave Portmeirion and continue our cycling holiday: 33-mile with 3640ft ascent, grade average-D(75W), to Bala; and more steep hills! Our route took us through: by train to Tan-y-bwlch, Gellilydan, Trawsfynydd, into the hills following Afon Gain and Afon Lliw, Llanuwchllyn and finally to Bala.


View Day-4: 33-miles, grade av-D, 1332kCal in a larger map




We began our day by using the Ffestiniog railway. We weren’t sure if they took bicycles, but we need not have worried, the people running the railway are all volunteers and very enthusiastic – they got our bikes on!



We couldn’t help but smile at the reference to ‘engine driver’



Another ambition satisfied



We arrive at Tanybwlch and head-off on the second half of our cycling holiday




More lovely weather as we head back into the Snowdonia National Park, here cycling towards Affon Gain




This day had some great, if hard, cycling. Stunning scenery on quiet roads: the bridge over Affon Gain




3-miles at 10%+, over the ridge to Afon Lliw: and Julie was worried about her fitness!




After 10% up, what better than 10% down, following Afon Lliw



Lake Bala, Wales’s largest natural lake



And finally our accommodation in Bala: The White Lion


The following day: 35-miles with 3670ft ascent, grade hard-D(73W), from Bala to Berriew. Our route took us through: Cwm Hirnant, past Llyn Efyrnwy (north shore), Llanwddyn, Pontrobert, Rhosfawr, Castle Caereinion and finally to Berriew.


View Day-5: 35-miles, grade hard-D, 1410kCal in a larger map





Continuing the previous day’s theme: more steep hills in spectacular scenery, as we ascend Cwm Hirnant



We were so lucky with the weather!



With the weather so good we had time to loll




The reservoir Llyn Efyrnwy, constructed in the 19th century, was built with more than just utility in mind. Only the Victorians would build a valve tower to look like a gothic castle!



The quiet roads continued, as did the great scenery



Well away from Snowdonia now, the landscape becomes one of Big Sky



And finally, our hotel for the night in the very cute village of Berriew




And what better way to finish a great cycling day!


Our penultimate day started with rain: had our luck finally broken. The sixth cycling day was 37-miles with 3800ft ascent, grade Ex-2(72W), from Berriew to Wenlock Edge. Our route took us through: over the border at Stockton, Rorrington, Shelve, a tea-break at The Bog, past Stitt Hill on the north road, Picklescott, Leebotwood, Cardington and up onto Wenlock Edge.


View Day-6: 37-miles, grade Ex-2(72W), 1535kCal in a larger map




The heavy rain lasted only half-an-hour, most of the day was intermittent drizzle




Friendly lamas



And back into England



On route to Wenlock Edge…


We spent the night at the Wenlock Edge Inn, and Julie’s parents joined us for a meal


The last day: a very easy 23-miles with 1450ft ascent, grade hard-A, from Wenlock Edge back to Wolverhaption, via Much Wenlock and Iron Bridge.


View Day-7: 23-miles, grade hard-A, 840kCal in a larger map




Much Wenlock (what a name) has numerous Elizabethan buildings, this one a little worse for wear



And down to Iron Bridge



And finally, full circle, 263-miles and 22800ft later: overall holiday grade average-D(65W).


Far and away this is the hardest cycling holiday we have ever done, and will ever likely do!



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