Porthmadog – Great orme 98km 972m ascent –
Great Orme to Chester 84km
Instant tea what a way to end a day, bivying on a cliff top watching the last of the sun give in.
The start of the day was harsh though with a 5 am start and a four and a half hour train journey, 2 changes, “this better be a flipping good weekend”, I thought to myself as I left the house, dazed.
I really felt I needed something a bit more punishing than last week, if i could equal the miles on tougher terrain and get a night out under the stars in, I would be a happy boy. And some more personal processing time on my bike would be a bonus.
looking at options all week, I thought about heading out somewhere, about 100k beyond Llandudno and riding there, bivying out on the first day and then heading back along the coast path then onto and down the River dee home about another 97k. Porthmadog seemed a good starting point, but a 4.5hr train journey.
Gear packed and bike kinda serviced quickly, I headed out at 5.50 in the morning and was welcomed to a beautiful sunrise over the Dee. I knew I would be chasing this sun to get to my bivy spot by sunset, it was going to be long day.
The train ride to Porthmaog was beautiful, wales is proper gorgious, I eyed lots of future bivy spots I would like to explore just from the train.
Once at Porthmadog, the ride out along trails and such was cool, I spotted some climbers at Tremadog and wondered if it was likely to be anyone I knew. It was cool to see the mountians ahead, riding towards them with the sea only just behind me, felt like I was off on something cool, this was going to be good weekend, I had that feeling.
The ride up the The Aberglaslyn Pass was stunning, through the road section I had to take is a bit sketchy in places with narrow lanes and fast drivers. Seeing the water cascade down the gorge, in sunlight was pretty spectacular. I would have loved to take the bike up the path alongside it, but its so narrow, it wouldnt take a bike with bars at some points.
Once in Beddgelert, I quickly got back on the trails and headed up with Moel Hebog on my left through the forests, the colours of the trees, with a mountain backdrop was harmonious. I decided to have a blast around one of the newish mountain bike trails, rude not to, as I was passing. It was nice, nothing technical, just gravel trails and fire roads mainly, but stunning, the lake at the top, although I have visted it before, was on form today, with the sun out. I sat on a rock in the lake, ate some food, pondered, got water bottles filled and was off again. The blast down on a loaded bike had me grinning ear to ear.
leaving Beddgelert I followed the route up to Rhyd Du with Snowdon over to my right, sitting with a cloud cap on it, and lit up on my left Y Garn, beautiful and lit with the strong sun all along it Eastern face. The trail was breathtaking, North Wales in all its glory, listening to the roll of my tryes with no other sound around was magical, a moment I will not forget.
At Rhyd Du I had to take the road option, I had checked out the track alongside Llyn Cwellyn but seeing there was no bridge crossing the other end, I gave it a miss. I loved looking up at the Nantile Ridge and remebering the last time i was up there, good times. Fortunately the road section was only to Waunfawr where I picked up a bridlepath that led me to Caernarfon, which was pretty lush, so many trees, to either side and above, the sun trying to penerate, made a glitterball effect as I rode through them, nice..
Riding into Caernarfon, I had no idea, that there was a festival on and rode right into the middle of it, it was the food festival, bugger, people everywhere. Needing to make some miles and aware the sun was fast on a onwards slant, i did not stop for food. Then I got silly, I picked up a cycle trail out of the centre towards Bangor, riding through a sweet forest, I was stopped by a guy who asked what I was doing, who informed me the trail i was on would take me in the wrong direction. Tired and knowing I had quite a bit of riding to do before my designated bivy spot, I took his advice and back rode the way i had come, stupid, I didnt check my map, I rode on, eventually hitting the A55 i realised that the guy had no idea what he was talking about!!!!. Shite why didnt i check my map, i cussed my stupidity. Having checked the map and found a breaking point on a trail, setting off, only to find the junction to the trail which i was orginally on, leson learnt, listen but check in the future. After a few more km’s I stopped, exhausted, flat, tired and hugry. I considered giving in and bivying right here on this shingled beach. I sat watching the sun illuninate the water and sand banks for a while, had some grub, hydrated and eventually relaxed. As I sat there I pondered, all the screw up’s I had made the last few weeks in all aspects of life, work and personal life and how I can learn from them and go from here.
Rested, plans and goals set I set off with the mind, that even if I dont manage to get to my spot for sunset at least I will get to acheive my main goal.
As I rode on I began to regain hope that maybe my sunset bivy was possible if I worked hard here on in, I could see my bivy spot on the orme headland, well i could see the area and guess where it was, though it a long way off.
The race was on and needed to get there before the sun departed. As I rode, the lower the sun got, the more spectacular it was, the more photos I needed to take, doh, !!!! i was torn between taking pics and making my spot in time, fortunately i managed both.
Bivy set up and food hydrating, mug of tea in my hand, I did it, 98km, 972m of ascent plus extras for when i forgot to restart my watch, 9 hours and 48 minutes riding, mint, happy happy boy.
I nestled into my bivy and watched the stars, with the sound of the waves rolling on and off the pebbled beach at bottom of the cliff edge. after a bout of really bad cramp in my left leg I chilled and drifted to sleep, as i did i wondered if any of the habitat ould be frightened off by my snoring.
Much prefer a night in a bivy for experiencing being amoungst nature, it was special and a whole different experience to the last time I used it in switzeland, where it froze inside.
I woke to some stunning views, its amazing being able to just open your eyes and already be wrapped up in nature, no doors to open. Eventually motivated I got up for breakfast, add water porrage and some instant tea. Problem I have one pot and I want to have a drink and food at the same time, doh. I settle for the porrage and added too much water, bugger, after drinking that and having a brew, I stuck camp and headed off.
I dropped down into Llandudno and set off along the coast, 84km along a selection of trails along the River Dee, home, finding things to lean my bike on along the way. Pics and description of the coastal section are the same as those on last post source to sea river dee. It was a easy day, 6 hours 20 including stops, but i remeber being 30k in and not feeling it, fortunately this didnt last and I was home in time for a kabab and chill.
It was a ace trip, I really enjoyed it, i got to see some amazing views and experience a mini adventure I will not forget ever i hope. I got to clear my head of some stuff and exercise, bonus.
My bike held out again, amazingly, fully loaded I am even now considering this as a capable bikepacking rig, odd.
appologies, peace and happiness x