3 day Anglesey Tour

Discussion in 'Family and Recreational Cycling' started by Crackle, 17 Aug 2012.

  1. Crackle

    Crackle Squatter

    Son2 presented me with his summer bucket list fairly early on in the holidays and included on it was a bike tour and walking up Snowdon. The latter, he was miffed about not completing on his school residential due to most of his class wimping out.

    Turning my mind to the bike tour I needed something close, not too long but interesting. Ideally I wanted a hostel tour but it's getting quite hard these days to put a hostel tour together not involving big distances as so many have closed. After some mulling and a bit of research I decided on Anglesey. Easy to get to for us, quiet and the right size to get around in a few days.

    After our first tour experience last year, son1 had decided he didn't think it was for him and though he didn't want to miss out, it didn't take much persuasion for him to stay home and do something with Mrs Crackle, who wasn't coming as she didn't have the time. With this in mind I decided to use the train to and from Bangor as our start and finish point.

    Inevitably a few days before we were going son1 changed his mind and lobbied me to go, to which I said yes to of course because I wanted him to give it another go before he made his mind up. It presented me with some problems though, the first of which was not being able to book another bike space and the 2nd was not having another suitable tent as we would be camping. The first meant abandoning the trains and using the car instead to get us to Bangor. I discovered I could leave it in Bangor station for the cost of £3.40 a day, so that was problem 1 solved. Problem 2 was solved when I remembered I'd impulse bought a £15 Lidl tent and then threw it in a cupboard when I realized it was a shoddy single skin thing. Initially I was going to give it to son1 but thought I'd survive it's hardships better in the event of it being totally crap. I should say at this point that I can say nothing positive at all about this tent other than it allowed us to go. It will be a dark and desperate day if I ever need to dig it out and use it again!

    The other two tents were single man Argos ones, now sadly no longer sold as they are really quite good. They only thing they lack is a good porch area and with that in mind I bought a Vango adventure tarp to provide a decent porch. It says Tarp but it's really a porch extension for a tent and as that it worked extremely well. The supplied pole is a bit heavy but you could replace it with a lighter one or even a walking stick and on the tour it provided us with enough space to sit together and eat, kept the rain out and acted as a sun shade, not too shabby.

    The Route

    This is the route we eventually took. I'd planned it slightly longer but a wet 2nd day saw us shorten one day and the third day got changed when we finalised our plans to stay on or go home. If we'd stayed our route would have taken us to Beaumaris for a few nights into the weekend but a lousy weather forecast meant we decided not to bother doing that.

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    Day1 (35 miles) - One of the reasons Anglesey was chosen was because of the plethora of cycle routes that exist on the island. You can see them all clearly on Bikehike if you click on the OSMcycle button, top right. There are also some dedicated pages on the visit Anglesey website. Here you can also print maps and guides out. I printed out NCN566 as my OS map didn't have that route on.

    Our route would mainly use NCN8, 5 and the Copper trail, now NCN566. The first challenge was getting out of Bangor. NCN8 does have a route to get you to the old Menai bridge, which we found on the way back but missed on the way out. It's worth finding as it is quieter than the A5 route we used, which was OK but busy'ish with a number of pinch points created by pedestrian islands. Both mine coped with this but a few years ago I wouldn't have taken such a route.

    There's a cycle path over the Old Menai bridge which continues on to link to the NCN 8 but once over the bridge it's a bit rubbish and went back on the B road which you are not on long before NCN8 directs you to quieter lanes and a better cycle path along another busier B road. It's all uphill out but it isn't far, a few miles and it's manageable and then you are on the lanes, barely wide enough for a car in places.

    Crossing the Menai Bridge

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    Anglesey lanes
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    IMG_0057.JPG

    It was a hot day and our water bottles emptied rapidly. Which is a good time to point out that the NCN routes on Anglesey, rarely take you past a shop. It's as well to be stocked up on essentials before you set off.

    We were aiming for just short of Holyhead mountain and our first stop at Blackthorne Farm. As the day wore on and the heat took it's toll, for some reason, best known to ourselves, this became known as objective Emu, due to the fact I kept telling them to keep their heads down and pedal. It was some relief when we reached the site and could finally pitch the tents and the sense of achievement was palpable.

    Camp taking Shape
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    Day 2 (32 miles) - Pack up went remarkably smoothly, much to the surprise of one camper, who stopped to tell us he'd doubted we'd get it all back on the bikes. Son no2 and I had not slept well and were woken at 1.30 by the sound of a rescue helicopter, or so we thought. It wasn't until we got back to the main road that we realized they'd resurfaced it overnight, so not a rescue helicopter after all.

    We retraced our route back to NCN8 before picking up NCN5. At this point it began to rain and set in for the rest of the day. We continued on to pick up NCN566 and as the rain was so miserable we decided to detour down to Church Bay were my rapidly dissolving printed sheet said there was a cafe. When we reached the turn off for Church Bay we had to make a big decision, because it was down a steep hill and we weren't sure if there was actually a cafe there but we were wet and miserable enough to take the chance and I can happily report for future travellers, there is.

    It's good this innit?
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    Despite the rain, NCN566 was quite a beautiful ride. We did shortcut the end to head down to campsite two because we'd had enough, which was a shame but moral was at stake, so...

    Our campsite turned out to be a C&CC certified location and as we weren't members we thought we might not get on. A quick pleading phone call sorted things out though and the owners were happy to accommodate us for a night and as we started to pitch up the weather Gods smiled and it stopped raining and the sun came out.

    Drying out after a miserable day
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    Day 3 (22 miles) - The previous evening Mrs Crackle had sent us a weather update which didn't look so great. We therefore decided to stick to the original plan of keeping it at three days. Son1 wasn't so keen to follow NCN5 slavishly back to Bangor and picked us a shortened version and then spent the ride navigating. It was probably as well, as there were some tired legs: Mine! Both of them kept leaving me behind on the hills. In my defence, I'd had two poor nights sleep in that tent and I was carrying more. Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    A midday lunch stop
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    Equipment and logisitics

    We are not, as the pictures show, set up for cycle camping. Large sleeping bags and mats needed to be strapped to the back of the bikes. There wasn't much weight penalty for that but it's an ungainly ugly set up, requiring plastic bags and hope.

    Bikes and panniers remained as I originally wrote up for last years tour (see earlier link). Son1 gained a better seat though and a pair of Polaris bike shorts which were superb. They were originally for son2 but they didn't fit and I didn't have time to rectify that before we went.

    I needed to carry four panniers simply because none of the sets I have are very large.

    All of this could be rectified by buying proper gear, which we might now as I'm confident it will get used again.

    Cycling on Anglesey

    Due to the plethora of lanes and bike routes it was a pleasure and we encountered no problems. Following the NCN routes was easy. They are well signed and it's obvious if you miss a sign,which we did once or twice. If you get to a junction and there's no sign, well, you've gone past it.

    Anglesey isn't flat though. You are either going up or down and rarely level. None of the hills are steep or long, apart from the odd one or two but you do need to be prepared for it's rolling nature.

    So?

    Both boys really enjoyed the tour and never stopped saying how good it was. Of course they didn't like the rain but that's all part of learning to take the rough with the smooth and not dwell on bad moments and let them colour other moments. In that regard it was a success. Son1 in particular gained the most out of it in that regard.

    Both want to do it again and even mentioned higher mileages, which is a bit of a bugger as it means I might actually have to do some proper preparation next time!
     
  2. lukesdad

    lukesdad Guest

    So glad the boys enjoyed it crax, before you know it they'll be joining us on the "staircase"... just before leaving us on it ! :sad:
     
  3. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    Well done Crax and the boys for putting up with you!
    Even if they stop enjoying these things in the next few years, you can be sure that you're instilling it in them for the future. They'll be family stories round the christmas dinner table one day!
     
  4. Sandra6

    Sandra6 Veteran

    Location:
    Cumbria
    Looks like you had a great time.
    I'm impressed with your boys managing to cycle with their "loads"
     
  5. lukesdad

    lukesdad Guest

    Wasn't their "loads" Sandra, have you not seen crax' cake box ? :ohmy:
     
  6. Great post. Particularly enjoyable as i was in/on Anglesea this very day.
     
  7. gavroche

    gavroche Getting old but not past it

    Location:
    North Wales
    very good report as I live close to Anglesey and coud relate to it. Personaly, I stick to the road as the surface is cleaner and never find it dangerous ( So far!)
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Squatter

    Aye, son2 now wants to join a club, something I know nothing about and will need to look into.
    Heh, you mean how their daft old dad who carefully researched the whole trip, failed to notice campsite two was members only...
    The bulky load on the back makes it look more than it was, nevertheless they carried their fair share. Own clothes, own tent, sleeping bag and mat and some food.
    Where?
    We didn't use many sections of cycle path but some of the lanes were far worse in terms of road surface. Most cyclists we saw were on the B or A roads which I would be fine with but I wanted a slower more relaxed route for the boys.
     
  9. Stephenite

    Stephenite Membå

    Location:
    OslO
    Great! Can't wait for my 18 month old to get a bit bigger. Loved the 'its good this innit?' photo.
     
  10. We drove from Prestatyn to South Stack in the pishing rain without a stop. Nearly got blown off the cliff and couldn't see our hands in front of our faces in th low cloud. It was very awesome.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Crackle

    Crackle Squatter

    Ah, well that justifies our decision to leave on Thursday then. Although we wouldn't have been cycling on Friday
     
  12. threebikesmcginty

    threebikesmcginty Corn Fed Hick...

    Location:
    ...on the slake
    Nice one crackers!
     
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