There’s something about the lure of the open road… with the sun high in the sky, the breeze ruffling your neck and just the songbirds for company there’s nothing quite like it. They say there’s a little of the wanderer in all of us and the thrill of the horizon and the unknown appeals to young and old alike. Add a bike into the mix and you’ve got all the ingredients for an adventure.
Many visitors to the region claim there’s no better way to see North Wales than from the saddle and they could just be right. Not only do you get to see well-known places from a totally new perspective but you do so under your own steam and at a pace that suits you. So if you – like thousands of us – love an adventure, why not mount up, spin those wheels and enjoy some of the hundreds of miles of cycle routes North Wales has to offer?
We’ve selected three of our favourite North Wales bike rides, all within easy reach of the Celtic Royal, and suitable for beginners and keen cyclists alike.
1. Lon Las Menai Cycleway
Where: Y Felinheli to Caernarfon
Length: 4.5 miles
Start: Sea front at Y Felinheli
End: new development at Caernarfon (or follow an onward route)
From the village of Y Felinheli, take the steep road down to the sea front, then from there past the yacht club and back up another steep climb to the start of the cycle path on the right.
You might have to get off and push, but the climb is short and the route from there on is quite level, so this is the only really difficult part.
The cycleway is tarmac, with a section of pavement where it joins the road, but for the rest of its length it runs parallel to the Menai Straits with views across.
Stopping point: take a break at Caernarfon before deciding whether to go onwards to Parc Menai or the Lon Eifion route (see below).
Difficulty: easy (except for initial climb) and short – a great one for families!
2. Lon Eifion Cycleway
Where: Caernarfon to Bryncir
Length: 12.5 miles
Start: car park at Caernarfon Castle, overlooking the harbour
End: small car park at Bryncir
The Lon Eifion Cycleway is National Cycle Network Route 8 and you can start from Caernarfon or connect from the Lon Las Menai route mentioned above for a total distance of about 17 miles.
It’s very wide with a solid surface, which makes for great cycling conditions at any pace, and views along the way include the Nantlle ridge and Snowdon itself, as well as the Lleyn mountains.
There are villages along the route (or close to it) too, including Bontnewydd, Dinas, Groeslon and Penygroes, so plenty of places to refuel if you need it.
Stopping point: Inigo Jones Slateworks, five miles south of Caernarfon and just off the cycleway – the cafe here is open all year round between 10am – 4pm.
Difficulty: easy with a good hard surface and wide path, but quite long
3. Porthdinllaen Circular Route
Where: Porth Dinllaen to Porth Dinllaen! (via Caernarfon)
Length: 22 miles
Start: National Trust car park in Porth Dinllaen
End: same (alternatively, start from the midway point at Pwllheli harbour)
This is a fantastic route if you’re up to the challenge of a longer distance – fairly flat, but surrounded by hilly countryside with Snowdonia on the horizon.
Follow two coast-to-coast stages:
Porth Dinllaen – Edern – Rhyd-y-Clafdy – Efailnewydd – Pwllheli
Pwllheli – Llannor – Nefyn – Porth Dinllaen
Alternatively, swap those over and spend some time in Porth Dinllaen, where a walk of just under a mile along the beach will get you to the remote village itself, which cannot be accessed by road.
Stopping point: Pwllheli is the halfway point, or if you start the route from here, then the car park at Porth Dinllaen becomes your halfway point with a viewpoint, picnic area and path to the beach.
Difficulty: moderate – country lanes with low traffic, but not well signposted and very long!
Image: © Copyright Ian Warburton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.