A Weekend in Wales
If like me you are a fair weather rider, trips to faraway places tend to be organised at the last minute. The great British weather isn’t great at all. Sunny days are few and far between and two of them together are a real rarity.
Imagine our (me and my riding buddy, Alan) delight when the forecast for the weekend 13, 14 and 15 May seemed to get better and better in north Wales – Caernarfon, in particular. The temperatures crept up and any sign of rain and even cloud disappeared from the forecast. Our first longer trip of the year was looking increasingly likely.
The pair of us covered 600 miles in September 2015, travelling from home in Reading, down to Bodmin for an overnight stay in a wooden hut, onwards to Land’s End the next morning and all the way home again. It was tiring but still a lot of fun and we were very keen to try again – covering even more miles this time around.
We were both keen to explore Snowdonia National Park in Wales so we searched the endless number of available camp-sites before deciding on the Tyn-yr-Onnen Farm in Caernarfon and their new Moel pod for two nights. I struggle with real camping holidays. Being cold in a tent, without light and power, and with little to do had very little appeal, so the pod was a bonus. At just £35.00 a night, it offered a remote countryside location and all the mod cons (including power, light and heat) and access to wireless internet as well.
Finishing work early on Friday 13 May, we are on the road shortly after 3.00pm, covering 280 miles with only quick stop for fried chicken at a motorway service station. Keen to arrive before dark, we took the quickest route possible, which also happened to be the least exciting; lots of motorways, lots of A-roads and plenty of traffic! It was a little after 9.00pm that we reached our home for the next two nights, just as the sun had disappeared below the horizon. As we neared Caernarfon, we road along a coastal road and witnessed the most spectacular sunset.
The site and accommodation really didn’t disappoint. We were in the top field (of three) and had a large pitch all to ourselves. The views from the pod were fantastic – looking at a mountain to one side and a field of sheep and donkeys to the other. The toilet and washing facilities were just a few steps behind. Permission was given for us to park the bikes right outside the pod, meaning that we could keep an eye on them.
Tyn-yr-Onnen is a working farm with lots and lots of sheep! By day, the sheep were out in the fields and by night, they were back in the barns.
After visiting the only pub in the village, we retired for the evening, first inflating our mattresses and pillows and rolling out the sleeping bags. Our pod was just a shelter (as it was last year) so it’s important to pack everything except for the tent. It was a very comfortable couple of nights – helped by the heater, which kept the pod nice and toasty through the night. A more detailed review of our accommodation can be found on Trip Advisor.
Waking up the following morning, I was surprised not to be aching or suffering with numbness following the long ride up the afternoon and evening before! Just like our last adventure, we jumped onto Google and looked for our closest Wetherspoons pub. Thankfully, one was just under 5 miles away in the town of Caernarfon, and we knew some cheap and tasty breakfast could be picked up there.
Caernarfon town is nice. It has a nice waterside location and a rather large castle too, along with lots of shops (including the everyday high street shops and the more traditional ones too). On the day of our visit, there was an event taking place around the castle so the town was busy with both vehicles and pedestrians. We eventually found somewhere to park (for free) right next to the castle. In many of the car parks in Caernarfon, charges for motorcycles apply, but we decided not to bother. Even if we tried to display a parking ticket, most probably it would have been pinched by somebody or been blown away by the sea breeze.
After a £5.00 full English breakfast, we hit the road again, heading down the west side of Snowdonia National Park to Barmouth and returning via Llanbedr and Harlech, before heading out westward to the small but pretty Aberdaron. Covering in excess of 150 miles on day two of our adventure, I lost count of the number of times I said “amazing”. Everything was amazing. The scenery, everywhere, was out of this world. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in the British Isles (or in fact the world) before.
At all stages of the trip, my new-ish GoPro Hero 4 Session was recording everything that I was seeing, so that I could grab still images later on. Beaches, hills, trees, lakes, mountains and more were picked up and many of the pictures can be found on my Instagram, which I continue to add to.
We returned to the pod after our long day out, freshening up and changing into more practical clothing before returning to Caernarfon for dinner. I had a real craving for an eat-as-much-as-you-like Chinese buffet but we couldn’t find one – and nor could Google – so we opted for something much more ordinary. In hindsight, we probably should have made use of the brick barbecue provided with our pod at the camp-site and dined al fresco, with breathtaking views in every direction.
The following morning, we packed up our stuff, loading everything onto the bikes and hit the road. We pulled up outside Wetherspoons again, decided the bacon the previous morning was a little too crispy for our liking and hit the road again. It would be four hours and 160 miles later that we would finally get to eat, having ridden from the north of Wales to the south; through Aberystwyth, Carmarthen and into Swansea. The views on the way were impressive but as Snowdonia disappeared behind us, the scenery, although good, was not quite in the same league.
After devouring a fish and chip lunch, we joined the M4, crossed the Severn Bridge and tackled the last 150 miles of our Wales adventure. Passing the ‘Welcome to England’ sign, it was all downhill from there and we were waving our goodbyes on the motorway as Alan left at Newbury and I continued to Reading. I returned home exhausted, again with an empty fuel tank and a bike in desperate need of a clean. Hundreds of specks of dust, dirt and dead flies were stuck to me and my bike.
This was a most enjoyable trip and one that I would definitely recommend. The accommodation was excellent (in terms of facilities, location and value for money) and the sights to be seen in north Wales were just brilliant. Even on two wheels though, covering so many miles is not cheap. We filled up multiple times along the way and the cost of fuel for my 600cc bike alone was around £70.00.