The city of Nice seen from the surrounding hillside bathed in sunshine

Home Travel StoriesSouthern Ireland 2015

Cruising To Holyhead

By Ren Withnell

Any good trip starts with the following thoughts. Have I turned the cooker off? Did I lock the front door? Have I got my tent pegs? Did I collect my Euros? I wonder if anyone leaving their home for more than a night doesn't have these thoughts? Imagine that, being completely confident that you have indeed done everything that needs to be done and packed everything that needs to be packed. Lucky them. Me, I'll find something to worry about even if I'm sure I've done everything. OH NO! Have I got my booking confirmation? Oh, hang on, it's in the folder with the Euros. I did pack the folder. I did. I'm sure I did. Didn't I?

Considering that my mindset is ready for the onslaught of rain in Ireland it feels most peculiar to be riding along on this dry morning. Dry it may be but it is windy and a little cold. With my 125 loaded to the gunnels and a firm headwind my progress down the motorway towards Chester is at best steady. It is of no concern though as I have all day to complete the 125 mile trip so even at 50 mph that is only 2.5 hours ride time. I am slightly concerned that I might not make it up some of the steeper stretches of the A55, I'm sure I'll be fine.

Ren's honda cbf 125 fully loaded up with camping gear and luggage
I don't think this is what Honda envisaged when they designed the CBF 125.

This is cruising. Once I finally accept that I will survive without knowing if I turned the cooker off or not I settle into the rhythm of the road. I'm quite relaxed at my slow pace and the miles roll by with very little fuss. I'm pondering what Ireland will really be like. I doubt that the clichés are true. In all likelihood I bet it'll be much like the UK except with more Guinness.

After 60 miles of motorway I'm on the A55 and my concentration is slipping a little, it's time for a break and a brew and a stretch of the legs. I spot a sign and pull in to "The Teapot Cafe" near Holywell. As I sip my tea in the pleasant room I overhear the lady behind the counter telling a customer that they are closing for good soon. That's a real shame, I like it in here and would certainly have come back again. Apparently the nursery (as in plants, not kids) next door is closing which means the cafe has to close too. 

Ren's bike in the car park outside the teapot cafe near holywell
Well I guess I won't be stopping here again. Shame.

The overladen CBF 125 manages to crawl it's way though the headwinds and the steep sections of the A55 and all the way to Holyhead. It's used a fair old chunk of fuel doing it though. A brief mental calculation suggests that my consumption figures have dropped as low as 105 mpg! That's appalling, terrible, shocking and quite upsetting. Pffft, curse those damn headwinds I tell ya. 

It takes me a couple of attempts to find the campsite at Holyhead. I've ridden past it twice, I was expecting a big sign and lots of tents in a field. I really really REALLY have to get a grip on my unreasonable expectations. What I find is a small sign and a small gate into a confusion of trees, tracks, a house and random outbuildings. Luckily the owner is dealing with a tradesman as I crunch up the driveway. She looks genuinely puzzled by my presence and even more taken aback when I enquire about camping. After a moment to collect her thoughts she leads me to a field, points out the water tap and the general direction of the toilets, takes £8 off me and leaves me to sort myself out. 

As I pitch the tent I can see a few caravans that look rather permanent and a campervan, other than that there are no signs of life or a thriving business. Well at least I'll have some peace and quiet tonight I guess. The toilet and shower (not plural) may be functional but they are not what I could describe as welcoming or homely. I should say this place is peculiar, but having seen the surreality of many French campsites this is just a little weird. At least it is close to the port.

A solitary caravan on an empty green field at Llanfair Bach campsite, Holyhead
It''s not exactly busy tonight at Llanfair Bach Campsite.

While the campsite itself may offer very little in the way of luxuries the location is very useful. There is a shopping centre within 5 minutes walk including a Tesco, Argos and various other common outlets. Very handy for purchasing milk for tea and a bite to eat. The port is 15 minutes walk away or 3 minutes easy ride and if the mood takes you there are pubs and nightlife to be found in Holyhead. I purchase my tea from Tesco then take a long walk around Holyhead. It's a town like many other towns and there's little to set it apart. The train station however has WiFi so I sit and surf on my tablet for a while. I feel rather modern and cosmopolitan chatting to the gf via Facebook on my tablet in a train station in Wales.

Celtic Gateway Bridge, a large stainless steel footbridge at Holyhead port
The port boasts the impressive "Celtic Gateway Bridge". Don't fancy polishing that.

Back at the tent I settle in for the night. There's a factory of some description nearby that is making a constant noise, while not terrible I decide to pop my earplugs in anyway. I should sleep well but I recently fractured a rib and getting comfortable on the hard self inflating mattress is proving to be difficult. It's going to be one of those nights, and I've got to be up early to decamp and get to the Ferry. At least I'm only half a mile away.

Prologue Ren's getting a plan together for a trip to Ireland. What can he expect and is he too tight to prepare his bike properly?
Cruising To Holyhead It's a slow ride into the headwinds as Ren heads off to the port of Holyhead on his overloaded CBF 125.
A Ferry And A Friend - Dublin The ferry to Ireland is fine but Dublin brings confusion. The rest of the day is spent catching up with an old friend filled with philosophy.
Across Ireland To Adare After a great breakfast Ren starts out across Ireland in search of what makes this place unique
The Dingle Peninsula Is the Wild Atlantic Way as wild as it's name suggests? As Ren reaches the West of Ireland will he find what makes this place special and unique?
Kerry's Ring And Skibbereen Will the famous Ring Of Kerry live up to the hype? Has Ren spotted the real Father Jack? Will the Germans ever get their Motorrad fixed? Oooooh the excitement is killing me.
The Southern Coastline Ireland's southern coastline provides a mix of beauty and disadvantage along with sunshine and rain. There's also a small ferry as long as he doesn't get lost again.
East Coast Session With time to spare Ren is meandering around the South Eastern coast of Ireland and thinking too much. He also finds a Session...sort of.
Dublin And Chillin' On his last day in Ireland Ren has time to spare and yet there's never enough time. Time is the most precious thing we have.
Holy Men To Holyhead Upon his return to Holyhead Ren is joined by a group of fellow bikers on a mission from God. This gets Ren thinking about life, the universe and everything. 42.
Epilogue - Southern Ireland 2015 Ren sums up his thoughts on Ireland. He's also coming to terms with the fact that the way he travels may no longer be right for him. Is this the end of Bikes And Travels?!

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