Travel StoriesNorth Wales 2011 Short Break - By Ren Withnell
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Criccieth to Trearddur Bay
I suprise myself. Considering I went to sleep last night at 2230 I've managed to doze right through to 0730 before I decide to get up. I've slept pretty well considering I'm in a tent. I've tossed and turned a little and had the usual dead arm that you get when sleeping on a thin mat, but overall I've done OK.
After visiting the toilets I am pleased to hear rumbling from the tents nearby, it means I can take my tent down without disturbing them from their slumber. Some tents are huge, I imagine it's the lap of luxury in there and I'm somewhat jealous. This new tent is a bugger to crawl in to and out of and my knees are green with grass when I finally get all my gear out. That said, the tent is as easy to dismantle and pack away as it was to erect.
On my walk last night I'd grabbed a small flat stone to place under the bike's side stand to stop it sinking into the grass. With the bike reloaded I grab the stone and place it in my pocket, it may come in useful at the next campsite. There's still no real plan, except that this time I am going to get up to Anglesey. Where on Anglesey I don't know, but somewhere. The weather's clear and dry but not warm, I'm glad I've packed a jumper.
I head west, towards Abersoch. At this time of day the roads are lovely and quiet and the sea comes into and out of view as I travel along green countryside. In my mind I think of last night's boredom and wish I could find a site with things to do. The problem with that kind of site though is they are usually costly and full of screaming kids. It's never a perfect world. A shop and a bar would be good, just to while away an evening.
With those thoughts in mind before I get to Pwllheli I see a sign for Abererch Sands, showing camping, shops and a swimming pool. I pull in. I've no intention to stop here but it may be good for future reference. It is as I'd expect. There's a small shop with a few basic supplies, hundreds of statics and a large field with hundreds of tents in it. I don't drive around to see what else there is as there's security on the site, but I make a mental note that the camping field seems close to the beach and there's a shop. Probably a bit chaotic for me in the high season but this could be a good place to stay when it's a little quieter.
Back on the coastal road I skip Pwllheli. Last time the gf and I were there we decided Pwllheli is a bit of a dump. I carry on along the A499 and just before Llanbedrog I pull into a Londis supermarket for breakfast of some kind. Outside there's plenty of fresh fruit and veg, but no nice green apples, only those red ones and I don't like them. Instead I grab a Satsuma and a Kit-Kat for breakfast. Not very healthy I know, but all the large supermarkets with cafes and green apples will be shut this being the Easter Sunday.
The Londis at Llanbedrog, probably the only place open at this time on an Easter Sunday
Somehow I've got it in my head that Abersoch is where the gf and I spent a pleasant anfternoon at a warm sunkist and quiet beach. It's not. It's another bland holiday resort and port town full of static caravans and holiday tat shops. I do recall riding down one street looking for a BnB as I ride around, but soon I pick up a sign for Aberdaron and follow that. As I ride along I wonder where the hell that picture in my memory comes from and resolve to look at this website to see where I've gone wrong.
Anyhow, now I'm into unchartered territory, heading towards the tip of the Llyn Peninsula. I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following my front wheel. I end up at a place called. Cilan Uchaf, south of Abersoch. I'm at the end of a long single track road. This is perfect territory for the 125. The 600 could have navigated the road but the 125 being a pretend off-roader feels more sure footed on the patches of loose gravel and dried mud. The narrow lanes with high banks means the riding is slow incase there's oncoming traffic, the 125 just loves pottering along at 20mph.
At Cilan Uchaf there's nothing but a couple of farm houses and a caravan site with a mere 5 caravans on it. This place feels very remote even though we're only a few miles from the town of Abersoch. I take a few pictures then a lady with a yound kid in the back seat pulls around the corner into the site. She stops and asks me how to get to the beach. I tell her I've no idea, but maybe that couple just coming out of the caravan might. As she saunters towards the van the kid looks at me curiously as I put my helmet on and start the bike.
There's only a handful of caravans at the small site at Cilan Uchaf
I climb a long steep hill to a place called Rhiw and I'm stunned by the beautiful views across Cardigan bay. I stop and take a few snapshots before venturing into Aberdaron. On the other side of the hill I'm still troubled by where that picture of the gf was taken, I'm sure it was Wales, I'm sure it was Abersoch. Then I get my answer. As soon as Aberdaron comes into view over the crest of another hill it all comes flooding back. This is where the picture was taken, the tiny hamlet of Aberdaron. I'm pleased to have anwered my question, but then I'm dissapointed that I must have been here before. I thought I was being adventurous, it seems I'm covering old ground.
Cardigan bay - I think - seen from the hill at Rhiw
This is the view that refreshes my memory, and makes me realise I have been here before
It's a lovely place is Aberdaron, but I'm feeling a little deflated. I consider stopping at the same cafe me and the gf dined in 3 years ago, but I decide to carry on, I guess I'm sulking with myself a bit. I ride and ride along single track lanes, down back roads that lead nowhere and on and on until I see a sign for Nefyn, another place I've been to, dammit. It seems I'll never be the next Ranulph Fiennes. In my frustration I push the poor little 125 a bit and I'm starting to enjoy curving a few bends and tipping into and out of the sharp corners.
At Morfa Nefyn, just before Nefyn, I'm ready for a rest and follow a sign to the beach. There's a large gravel car park and a sign stating that parking is £4. Cautiously I approach the woman manning the car park cabin and ask if we poor poor bikers need to pay. She suggests I stick my bike over in the corner and maybe we'll forget the payment. I smile behind my helmet and park where she suggests.
There's an ice cream van so I purchase a 99. It's great, so creamy and soft, really very tasty. I wander a short distance to the bluffs and see that the actual beach must be 50 or 100 feet below and a fair walk from the car park. If I'd paid my £4 to park a car I'd expect to be parked on the beach not have to make a long steep hike to get there. The beach is quiet save for a few jetskis and brave bathers.
As you can see, it's a fair way down to the beach.
I hit the road again. It's not long before I pass through the complex of roundabouts and confusing junctions in Caernarfon and cross the Britannia Bridge onto Anglesey. There's plenty of signs for Holyhead so I follow these. Along the A55 my bladder demands my attention and I spot a sign for local services. This takes me to the tourist hotspot of...ahem...Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch... The car park is full of coaches loaded with old folks and foreigners and outside bored coach drivers talk to each other and compare vehicles. After a brief visit to the gents I get out of there as quick as I can.
The A55, now dual carriageway, leads me through gentle countryside with broad fields full of bright yellow rape seed and green fields populated with a variety of sheep and cattle. Holyhead seems further than I thought, but at 50mph I guess everwhere's a bit further than I think. Eventually the town comes into view. Holyhead itself is like any other UK town, except today it's very quiet. Easter Sunday means all the major shops are shut so I head towards the port in search of perhaps food and signs of life.
I end up at a marina, from which I can see a couple of ferries parked up in the distance. There's plenty of people here, coming and going and milling around but I can't find anywhere to eat. I stop to stretch my legs and take a few more photos and decide to head back into town in search of a Subway or similar outlet. The town is empty save for the odd car and pedestian. The main shopping road is closed to cars and I don't want to leave the bike out of view. I decide to take the easy option and head to a McDonalds I'd spotted on the way into town.
Holyhead Marina in the glorious sunshine. Note the ferries in the distance.
As I pull into the Mcdonalds I notice 2 bikes, a Hyosung 125 and a Gixer of some description. I park my bike nearby and by the time I've removed my lid there's a chap milling around the Gixer in leathers, I assume he's the owner. The conversation starts in the usual biker's manner - "Have you come far...?" It turns out that this chap is called Mark, has been camping nearby for over a week and hails from Wigan, just 6 or 7 miles from where I live.
It's a small world isn't it. That said, Wales is an obvious holiday destination for the people of the North West. Mark's been coming to the same campsite for a few years now and seems to know the place well. Thinking of last night's boredom I ask if there's a shop or a bar near the campsite he's on and he says yes. He gives me clear directions to the site but advises me he'll be off fishing for the remains of the day. As we have been talking a couple arrive on a big burgundy Pan Euro and as Mark heads off on the Gixer I start the conversation with the Pan couple in the usual manner.
This couple have also come from Criccieth today, but that is because they live there. The chap is obviously ex services as his stance is straight and his manner firm but courteous. I learn that the lady has lived in Bolton and once worked at an Aldi just down the road from where I live and again I remark about how small a world it is. Inside the McDonalds I eat my hamburger. I know it's not real food but it'll do for today.
I follow Mark's instructions to the campsite. It's only 3 or 4 miles from the McDonalds but it's off a road down a side road. I pass by a large beach that's full of sunbathers and screaming kids, then a couple of smaller beaches which are a little quieter. The campsite is called "Bagnol Caravan Park" and this time the reception is much easier to find.
The reception is easy to find, but there's no-one there. After a moments wait a heavy, tanned bloke with a south-african accent advises me that someone will be with me soon. We talk and it turns out he's caravanning here with his family and he too lives in Bolton. I keep the small world comment to myself, I'm tired of it now. I wait a little while longer, feeling more dissapointment that the brave adventurer in me has managed to be so wild as to find himself on holiday with the rest of the North West. I try to console myself that I'm doing it alone, on a 125, but I'm hardly the hero I'd like to be.
I find Mark's tent, next to his bike, on the camping field. He's at the crest of a hillock and I ride up as he waves to me. He greets me and suggests I camp nearby. As I pitch the tent I learn that Mark's been here 9 nights. He's living in luxury as his father brought all the camping gear and luxuries down in a car. Looking at my farty little 2 man tent next to Marks large 3 man and lving area affair, I miss my 3 man tent too. Not only that Mark has a luxurious new airbed from Argos, heating, cooking facilities and all the mod-cons.
Mark heads off for the rest of the day. He and a few friends have chartered a boat to go fishing until dark. He leaves the bike at the site as a friend is collecting him. All of a sudden I'm alone again, the day is still young and I need to figure out what to do with the rest of the day. Oh no, not again.
My tent and my 125 seem a little overwhelmed by Marks 750 Gixer and tent...and wind break...
The first and most obvious thing to do is take a walk. I change into my shorts and follow a family loaded with beach towels, buckets and spades down the hill and through a gap in the fence. This brings us out on the road I came in on and right next to a small beach nestled inbetween rocky outcrops. On the beach a few families bask in the sun while the kids play with balls or make sandcastles. There's a few young people in the water and out in the bay in the distance jetskis, water bikes and power boats zip up and down leaving white wakes behind them.
It seems using your powered toys int he water off Wales is acceptable, maybe even encouraged. I walk along the beach then notice a path that leads over the rocks. I take that path which leads me over some sharp craggy promentories. At the top of one I can see the whole bay. I use my fancy new phone to work out where I am, it's called Trearddur Bay. It's suprisingly lovely. There's another small beach between the rocks then the final outcrop drops me down to a long curved beach that is full of holidaymakers. In the water kids and parents play. I'm concerned that the powerboats and water bikes come into the shore very fast and land very close to the beach.
At the far end of the beach I can hear sea shantys being sung. I initially think it's some corny DJ or street show but as I get closer there's a live group singing outside a pub. After a couple of shantys the group break out guitars and drums and start to play various 60's and 70's anthems. Around the pub and along the promenade people stand in the sun drinking and watching. By now the sun has warmed up well but there's till a brisk wind that takes the heat away. I am warm enough in my shorts but there's a definite chill in the air.
One of the rocky outcrops, behind each lies a small beach.
I walk back along the road. Not far from the gate back to the campsite there's a Range Rover parked rather poorly on a bend. On closer inspection I realise why. There's a trailer behind the Range Rover with a large powerboat on the back. The trailer has a broken axle judging by the jaunty angle of the offside wheel. I can only imagine how much hard work and lifting will be required to fix that problem.
Back at the campsite I'm faced with the next problem, tea. I decide to hop back onto the bike and ride up to the shop back towards Holyhead. I could probably walk it but I've just finished my walking for now. I ride to the shop and purchase a nice green apple, sorted, a tin of tomato soup and some crisps. This time I'm pleased to find I've only spent £2. Instead of heading straight back I take the time to ride up and down a few of the local roads.
Back at the campsite I eat my apple and drink my soup, cold. The crisps stick to my teeth so now seems like a good time to go and get another shower. This being my second day it would make sense to get changed too. Damn. That's the next thing I've forgotten. I've got fresh pants and a fresh t-shirt, but no blooming underpants and no blinking socks. It's probably a good job I'm on my own.
There's a queue for the showers. Only 3 chaps and one young lad before me, but when each takes 10 minutes in there it means a fair wait. I wait my turn whilst other people walk in, see the queue and walk back out again. It's tea-time so many will be returning from the beach and wanting to wash off the sand and sea salt. The shower is a mere dribble. It's no wonder each person is taking so long, it takes 3 minutes just to get my hair wet enough to wash it.
After my shower...there's nothing to do again. I had passed a restaurant on my walk, and then there was the pub with the singers by the main beach. I consider these for a while but think to myself, nah, I'll take a walk around the campsite and then turn in for an early night. As I walk around I see plenty of static caravans. From a vantage point I see several other sites full of statics too. As I walk I ponder, who can afford these? They cost over 10k to buy then there's another 2k in site fees, and most sites don't want any caravans over 15 years old on them. As I walk I see 4 by 4's parked next to the caravans, flash cars and I wonder where I'm going wrong. Here am I, too poor to go out for a meal at a restaurant let alone to then come back to my costly holiday home. Who says times are hard?
It's turning dark when I get back to the tent. I've no idea when Mark's coming back and its turning quite chilly. It never got hot today, but now there's a definite nip in the air. I put on my lumberjack shirt for warmth and sit in the cramped tent, playing solitaire on the new phone. As I'm lying there I start to nod off and drift into a light sleep. What seems like moments later I hear noises from Mark's tent so I get up to say hello.
Mark's fishing trip has been a success and he proudly shows me some already filletted fish of some description. I know nothing about fishing but he assures me it'll taste great. Hmmmm. I'm not a fan of fish but I politely say nothing as he starts to prepare his small fire to cook said fish. I sit there and politely talk about his friends, this holiday, his family and our respective motorcycle accidents and incidents. I'm hungry and Mark says we can also have some burgers he's got, but the fire is loathed to get going.
He tries lighter fluid and fanning the charcoals, but to no avail. He apologises profusely about his lack of preparation and inadequate fire, but I'm not bothered, it'll save me having to eat the fish at least. I could have murdered a nice quarter-pounder though. Part of our conversation revolves around this website and my writings upon it, he promises to find me and sort me out if I slag off his fire starting skills. Erm.....hi Mark!
It's very cold now. Mark produces a canister gas heater which will keep the tent warm whilst he nods off. He shows me his sleeping bag and large duvet. I'm not worried, my sleeping bag is rated down to minus something-or-other and I turn down his offer of extra bedding. I'll be fine, I've slept out on colder nights than this. We talk a little longer about how bikes are so dangerous and yet so much fun, of our girlfriends and our lives then we decide it's time to turn in. I say goodnight to Mark and climb into my pokey tent and zip myself into my super sleeping bag.
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Prologue
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Going To Criccieth
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Criccieth to Trearddur Bay
Roaming around North Wales and the Llyn Peninsula Ren is killing time and exploring. This is what 125s were made for.
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Going Home From Trearddur Bay
North Wales 2011 Short Break - Epilogue and More Images
Mark said :-
Hi there ren it's mark here the biker you met at Bagnol camp site at treaddur bay over the bank hol. Yes the one with the self confessed shittiest campfire that ever disgraced the campsites of Wales.!.I(nice to see you've glossed over that particular part of your trip.. Thank god) I trust you and your trusted steed saw you home safely and in good spirits ?. As for myself Wigan ain't treaddur bay and and the familiar thud of the front door closing behind me on my return only confirmed what I already knew, holiday over back to work!. I hope the campsite met with your approval and the company wasn't to dull ( not bumped into a two wheeled travel reporter before only seen them on tv) I shall check in again soon mate may see you on the yam next time. Cheers mark
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Mark. I think you read this page...before I finished it! I can forgive the camp fire. Maybe see you there again some time.
edo said :-
Ciao,mi chiamo edoardo sono italiano,ho appena comperato una honda clr volevo chiederti quanti km hai percorso per l'intero viaggio.....
Ren - The Ed said :-
The above translated via Google -
Hello, my name is Edward I'm Italian, I just bought a honda clr wanted to ask you how many km path for the entire trip .....
My entire trip from Manchester and around North Wales would be approximately 400 miles. The actual milage around North Wales itself would be less than 200 miles.
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Travel StoriesNorth Wales 2011 Short Break - By Ren Withnell