It’s been a somewhat traumatic and hectic few weeks, with our first grandchild arriving, a busy time in the garden and a dear neighbour locked in a losing battle with cancer, so it was a blessing to get an invite from Steve to spend a few days with him on his cherished future territory ‘Ynys Môn’!
I really needn’t have worried about my relative lack of recent riding as Steve went to great lengths to impress on me that the focus was to be on relaxed riding, good food and banter.
The weather forecast for the first day was dire, wall to wall heavy rain, so I set off up the M6 at a leisurely pace to meet Steve at around 1pm at Beaumaris. The weather continued to improve the closer I got to Anglesey and by the time I pulled into the car park, it was bright and sunny, albeit quite breezy. We decided we’d take a steady cruise down to Penmon Point where there’s a cosy café that sells cake and stunning views across the Menai Straits and on to The Great Orme in the distance. We took in the view and then retraced our way back up the toll road (free for cyclists) and paused at Penmon Priory and St. Seiriols Priory church, and whilst neither of us are particularly devout, churches always convey a sense of history and sometimes paint an insight into life many hundreds of years ago.
Back on the coastal road and another pause for photos at the picnic area before a fascinating diversion along a gravel track to Castell Aberlleiniog, a motte and bailey fortress dating back to the 11th century, well hidden now, but at the time of its construction, it would have given a commanding view of the Straits. We followed the trail through into the village of Llangoed where we joined the road back to Beaumaris.
Time to check in at Ardudwy ,our B & B, with genial, apocryphal Welsh hostess Beryl, but not before we’d shopped for our evening’s beer and wine at Menai’s Waitrose! our plans to eat at one of Steve’s favourites, The Marram Grass http://www.themarramgrass.com were thwarted when we found it closed for the two nights we were there. Curry it was then and off to Sopna Tandoori for an early meal.
Tuesday dawned not with the bright sunshine we were anticipating, but with low cloud and drizzle, a hearty breakfast and then a strategic decision made to delay setting off until noon. Well, exactly on schedule it did brighten up, so we set off via back lanes to join the riverside cycleway towards Llangefni, Anglesey’s major conurbation and coffee and cakes at Oriel Ynys Môn, an imposing modern gallery, museum and café. Steve wanted to head back towards the south coast, so we rejoined the cycleway and made our way towards Malltraeth, stopping briefly to investigate the (sadly locked) churches at Trefdraeth and Llangadwaladr then via Hermon for the promised chips at Malltraeth (closed) or cakes at the Gallery café (also closed). Well, it wasn’t the end of the world, but pretty close!
We joined the cycleway along the disused railway line overlooking Malltraeth Sands, before a loop around Newborough Forest where we saw not one, but two posh catering vans fuelling the film crews and actors engaged in making a Netflix ‘Teen Drama’ by the makers of Hollyoaks. We weren’t needed as ‘extras’ so we headed back to Ardudwy, where we ate all the provided biscuits and planned an early tea! Seriously the resources and people needed to turn out potentially ‘low budget’ mediocre entertainment is eye watering!
Back to Menai, then for another ‘Supermarket Sweep’ of Waitrose and a well above average meal of Menai mussels and pizza at Dylans – an upmarket bistro with superb views of the Straits. A relatively early night for me – Steve of course continued his researches into quality red wines!
Wednesday should have been a half day of exploring Newborough in more detail, but it was a miserable wet start so we elected to strike for home, although I think Steve may have stopped off at Bodnant as the weather brightened, to photograph there.
Well, I really enjoyed my brief re-acquaintance with part of Anglesey and Steve’s company and depth of knowledge of the area contributed massively to it. More again soon, please!
Words – Robin Fisk.
Pictures – Steve Makin.