The final day started with both familiar and unfamiliar sensations. The unfamiliar being bright sun shining through the window on the first sunny morning of the ride; the familiar being the stench of my damp cycling shoes.
Today was to be only a half days riding and the distance should be easily achieved in time. However having now got the hang of the slower riding speeds when fully laden I didn’t want to risk missing my booked train back home (due to leave just before 2pm). Breakfast started at eight so I got up at seven to make sure that I was fully packed and loaded and ready to set off straight after eating. As such I was on my way by half past eight.
I headed out of the town towards Telford’s Menai Bridge. Crossing it, the cycle path on the outside edge of the bridge felt a little wobbly but the crossing didn’t take too long and I was soon onto Anglesey.
Just as I did around Harlech, I chose to follow the main road rather than the official cycle route at first. As such I followed the old A5 north west towards the opposite corner of the island. Between the Menai and Britannia bridges a small climb opens up to afford some lovely views back across the bridge and the strait. The road crosses under the new A55 road at the northern end of the new bridge. The fast, dual carriageway A55 is the reason that cycling along the A5 is a much more pleasant experience than one might expect of riding on such a numbered road.
Immediately after the new bridge one enters into Llanfair PG. I managed to miss the famous station first time but doubled back for a few more classic tourist photos. Sadly I must confess that the opportunity for this photo was a major reason that I had abandoned the official route immediately upon entering Anglesey as route 8 skirts around the north side of the village. Just outside of Llanfair I picked the route back up and would remain following it for the rest of the journey into Holyhead.
From here the route is back on to quiet county lanes (with the occasional foray into marginally less quiet B roads). I probably saw about twenty cars between Llanfair and the outskirts of Holyhead (I’m excluding a short section where the A55 could be spotted to the side of the cycle route).
Anglesey is largely flat compared to the rest of the route although there was still roughly 1000 feet of climbing over this 32 mile ride so it wasn’t entirely level.
The highlights included the Bodowyr burial chamber which sits in a field just a few yards from the route; a telephone box at about the mid-way point across the Island. Now out of use someone has replaced the BT phone with an old fashioned handset purely for show; and the Valley air base. I stopped for a picture here mostly to see how long it might take before I was moved on. Interestingly it took upwards of fifteen minutes. Prince William had stopped working here a few months previously. I’m guessing that were he still here that time may have been a lot shorter. On the approach to Holyhead I had been considering a detour to the South Stacks but whilst i was making good time I didn’t feel that I had enough spare minutes to be sure not to miss the train. Therefore i was soon crossing the causeway onto Holyhead Island.
Just as the first few miles out of Cardiff are no indicator of the beautiful quiet trails ahead of you; the final two miles in Holyhead start to prepare you for a return to the real world. The route passes through some estates on its way towards the docks which are a far cry from the what has come before. There is one final short rise which would normally barely register but knowing the end was so close and with less scenic surroundings it felt like a drag; the consolation being that there was one final downhill glide to the docks and the end of the ride.
Just as there is no formal marker of the start in Cardiff nor does there appear to be one at the end. This is something of an oversight that I hope Sustrans might look to rectify. Whilst Cardiff does at least have the landmark Assembly Building as a surrogate marker there is no such location at the North end. Instead, having established that the maps indicated that I had definitely reached the end, I took a celebratory photo next to a town map and fag bin. Unlike the C2C ride I had no inclination to dip a wheel into the sea so instead wheeled the bike over towards the town centre in search of some food. I did have just over an hour so had plenty of time to walk the length of the high street twice; ascertain that there was nowhere worth stopping at, and return straight back to the station. The direct train to Euston was already waiting at the platform so I made the most of the time to get the bike secured, get changed in the toilet, get some food from the buffet car which was already open and serving, and then settle in for the journey home at the end of a most grand adventure and one that I would heartily recommend.
FOOTNOTE: If Holyhead was supposed to prepare me for the real world it clearly failed. Arriving at Euston I got back on the bike for the short ride to St Pancras. Avoiding the main road I navigated the back streets around the rear of the stations. The ride was easy enough but still in touring mode I managed to freak out a couple of other cyclists by (completely without realising what I was doing) giving them a cheery wave and a hello.
Day Five Stats:
- Distance: 31.9 Miles
- Ride Time: 2 Hours, 45 minutes and 37 seconds
- Maximum Speed: 33.8 mph
- Average Speed: 11.6 mph
- Ascent: 980 feet
- Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/658322770
- Distance: 267.8 Miles
- Ride Time: 25 Hours, 19 minutes and 26 seconds
- Ascent: 15,336 feet