A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


From Snowdon to the sea

Day 2, part 2

Today’s cycling: 90 km / 56 mi

We had a good early start to the first proper day of the trip, so we were back down from the summit of Snowdon before lunchtime. Once reunited with our bikes, we headed back the way we had come, back towards Capel Curig - but this time we were heading down Pen y Pas, and we had the road stretching before us, down into the forest. We decided to eat before we left the mountains proper, so we stopped for lunch by the side of a small lake It was only a brief stop, and I felt rushed; we could see the clouds behind us with the rain chasing us down the valley, and the air felt cold and ominous. It was as if the grey sky was reflecting the grey slate, and hiding a malevolent spirit brewing a storm like we were brewing our tea. A flying descent put us back among the trees and following our route north, to the coast. We were following a river down to the sea, but somehow - surely defying logic - the road seemed to wind up and up, even while the river was flowing along the valley floor in the same direction.

This seemed like a fairly safe road, and we were ticking along quite nicely, when the collision occurred; it is to my knowledge the only road accident I’ve been involved in that has resulted in a death, and I suppose I must take the blame for this one. I was coming down a hill into a village, when they ran out in front of me. I had no chance to brake; they had no chance to avoid me, and moments later the rat lay dead in the road. I was distraught: I had always proclaimed cycling as the most benign, environmentally-friendly mode of transport around, and here lay a harmless creature, slain by my tyre. No longer could I claim that cycling’s environmental impact was minimal; perhaps I would even have to modify the special contempt I reserve for those who drive at the slightest excuse. Still, at least it was a quick death. Polly, meanwhile, found the whole incident hilarious.

The rain finally caught up with us as we ascended the last hill before Conwy. We donned our jackets, but to little avail - it was a truly torrential downpour, and we were soaked to the skin in minutes. DSCF2322.JPG Once in Conwy, we stopped briefly to replenish our supply of cereal bars, and then we picked up the blue signs of the national cycle network. These took us across the headland and out towards the sea on the western side of Colwyn Bay. Now this was a part I was unsure about: I was looking forward to getting off the roads and onto a dedicated cycle path, as marked on the map. However, maps generally give no clue as to the quality of the surface, and a cycle path can be anything from a smooth tarmac finish to a a muddy track impassable to anything but a mountain bike. The alternative had this been an example of the latter was 20km along a busy dual carriageway. Fortunately we were in luck - very much so! We reached the sea front, and the blue signs pointed along a newly-built tarmac path, threading its way between the seashore and the road. DSCF2326.JPGUtter bliss! Especially now that the rain had stopped, the sun was shining, and it was generally turning into a lovely day. We continued along, with our way alternating between cycle path and seaside promenade - all car-free, and generally wonderful. [Later note: looking back, this was perhaps the most thoroughly pleasant ride I have ever been on; it just seemed to go on and on, along a part of Wales I had never expected to enjoy quite so much!] However, like all good things this had to come to an end, and it was with reluctant hearts that we finally turned away from the sea, following the blue signs onto the back roads of north Wales and climbing once more into the hills. A stop in a village gave us chance to refill our water bottles (from a house belonging to a very friendly couple, who even offered to let us use their shower; we couldn’t quite decide if this meant that we already looked atrocious less than a day after our last showers!). Soon, we stopped to cook up dinner, as we were both feeling rather hungry by this point and cereal bars and chocolate could no longer quite cut it. By the time we’d finished the light was fading, so we agreed to stop at the next convenient point and find somewhere to spend the night. A couple of miles further on, we found an ideal spot, tucked away in some trees well away from the road. We flattened down a patch of grass, and pitched the tent looking out across the water to the lights of England, and tomorrow’s journey.

Our tent:
England by night: